Superman: Know your weakness.
Jessica Jones: Embrace your flaws.
The Flash: Be quick.
Rogue: Some things you're better off not knowing.
Iron Man: Keep up with the latest technology.
Jean Grey: Be empathetic.
Invisible Woman: Shield your team.
Captain America: Inspire.
Batman: You can do more with a good partner.
Wolverine: Heal thyself.
Wonder Woman: Only speak the truth.
Huntress: It’s never too late to do the wrong thing
Comics, movies and TV shows have taught me a bunch of lessons. For example, growing up without much diversity in my community, I learned about racism from reading the X-Men. But the most surprising lessons relate to the business world.
A list of some lessons that can be taught by a dozen of our favorite superheroes:
Most interesting comic book characters come with cool powers but, more importantly, with flaws that humanize them. Jessica Jones is truly flawed. She was stalked, she was mind controlled. She drinks and smokes. But she protects people. And when she screws up, she’ll own it. Sometimes we make mistakes in business. Only by admitting a fault can you communicate authentically that you’re fixing it.
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is the leading contributor of technological achievements to the Marvel universe. An absolute truth in business is that having the latest technology can really set you above competitors.
Every leader needs a Robin. A strong No. 2 tends to be essential in a company. The leader can’t do it all.
Wolverine will get demolished by his enemies but heals faster than a normal human so he always comes back and kicks the crap out of them. Businesses can do the same. Failure can teach lessons and toughen a company to overcome adversity.
The Huntress is not a good character at first. She’s the daughter of a mobster, and while she falls in love with the Green Arrow and stops killing people for awhile, she invariably turns toward the dark side again. In business, even if you’ve gone down the wrong strategic path, it’s never too late to change course. In the startup world, we refer to this as “pivoting.”
The next time your kid wants to watch their favorite superhero movie again, smile to yourself and think of it as a good career primer. It’s amazing how these imaginary creations can inspire and teach us in our work.