When you’re at the top of your game, sometimes it’s hard to see the potential for failure. Superman once fought a beast in the Comics known as Doomsday and when all was said and done the most powerful character in Superhero lore was beaten to death. And quite frankly, he deserved it. Much like the Man of Steel, we often consider ourselves more powerful than a locomotive; impervious to the dangers that rise up to defeat us because we feel that we’re indestructible. But even the mightiest of giants can be felled if the stars align just the right way. Superman made 5 fundamental mistakes that cost him his life.
1. He was too full of himself
Why wouldn't he be? He’s Superman. Historically there didn't seem to be anything that could stop him; Kryptonite aside of course but realistically he conquered every obstacle thrown at him. The fact was though, Superman failed to see that one day someone (or thing) might come along that was just simply better than him. It was that complacency that prevented him from seeing impending danger and asking “What if I can’t do it? What if I fail?”
What’s the lesson here? Don’t get cocky with your abilities. They may fail you in the end so learn to adapt.
2. He was everybody else’s “Go To” guy
When the world was in trouble or the rest of the Heroes couldn't handle the situation they called in the big guns! Superman would swoop in to save the day whether it was something as simple as saving a Kitten in a tree or stopping an interstellar armada hell-bent on destroying the Planet. He could be counted on for just about anything. Then one day he was gone; buried under 6 feet of earth and those people that had come to rely on him were left to fend for themselves. While they eventually got things under control there were struggles and hardships. Had Superman helped more people to help themselves they wouldn't have been in such a predicament and would have been able to carry on without him.
What’s the lesson here? Share your knowledge. Create everyday Heroes that can stand up to challenges if/when the Major Leaguers are nowhere to be found. Take a step back and let others shoulder the weight for a time.
3. He didn't know when to say “Enough!”
Although he was put on this Planet to do great deeds and help people there had to be a point in time where he just got sick of it all. When he was tempted to just hang up his cape, put his feet up on the couch and watch re-runs of the Brady Bunch. The man worked relentlessly. He was always on the move and never took a day off. He worked himself to the point of exhaustion and when the time came for him to dig deep and draw on those extra energy reserves….he couldn't.
What’s the lesson here? Take a break every now and then. The job will still be there when you get back. A break will help you refocus your energy on tasks and your output will improve exponentially.
4. He couldn't think ‘on the fly’ (Sorry for the pun)
Superman was a man of action but that didn't always work to his advantage. While he was more than capable of solving Lex Luthor’s puzzles, he failed to use this same brain power to conquer the monster Doomsday. Instead, he resorted to duking it out like a kid on the playground. Had Superman taken the time to strategize rather than rely on a skill like his brute strength it may have saved his life. When cornered, he opted to be physically defensive instead of tactically offensive.
What’s the lesson here? While we all have certain skills that are stronger than others, sometimes using a skill that people don’t know about can lead to a tactical advantage. Always keep them guessing.
5. Nobody ever really dies in the Comics
Superman can never really die. Death in the comics is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Kill off a Hero and people simply scramble to buy the next book to see what happens next. They rush online to read blogs and leave comments on message boards and fan sites. Online traffic spikes, SEO and SEM specialists rub their hands together in anticipation. Store shelves run out merchandise before the ink has even dried on the page. Death reinvigorates a stalled product. The industry thrives on the death and rebirth of these icons because the Customers demand it! It works for that Market, but the same approach may not work for yours.
If your product or service doesn't have the rabid fan-base like the comic industry has then avoid killing off your ‘Hero Product’. If there’s one thing that fans hate more than an obvious marketing cash grab it’s when a company takes away something Customers have come to know and love just to make it ‘New and Improved’. Superman will always be Superman. Can you say the same about your Product or Service?
What’s the lesson here? Don’t change your Hero Product just to make a quick buck. Build brand value and a loyal Consumer base by offering consistency and a solid return on their investment. Customers will tell you when they want a change. Your Customers are your biggest fans. Don’t ever treat them like just another source of income.
When all is said and done Superman made bad decisions by failing to see his shortcomings and pushing himself too hard. In many ways, he is us and we are him. We constantly push ourselves to show our worth. We fall into patterns that can lead us into danger because we become complacent with our abilities. If Superman is fallible, what chance do we have?
You don’t have to wear a cape to be a Superhero. You just need a sense of humility and enough common sense to understand when to help others step up to the task; when to cultivate other people’s powers while not overshadowing them with your own. This is a lesson that will take your entire life to master but with practice the legacy you leave behind will be larger than the person who left it.