The Superman Syndrome

Have you ever watched a superhero movie where they show the origin story of the hero? It’s often a journey of going from ordinary and wanting so much more, to being extra-ordinary and not being able to cope with all of the responsibility.

A sense of overwhelming obligation can both distract and dilute the hero from being truly powerful in exacting the change they would like to see. And, although we’re not superheroes we can sometimes relate to this on a profound level.

There’s a quote by Robert Jordan that goes like this: “He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.”

If you are feeling constantly overwhelmed, almost to the point of drowning, it could be because of the extent to which you’ve allowed other people’s expectations to rule your life. On the website,, they have a blog that helps us understand and deal with The Superman Syndrome.

One of the helpful tips that they offer is this: Honour your priorities

We are creatures of habit, and old patterns are hard to change, even when they no longer serve us well. Health care professionals note that we are so addicted to our fast-paced lives that it often takes a life-threatening crisis such as a heart attack or cancer to slow us down enough to gain the work-life balance we desire.

If you struggle to live a life based on your priorities and values, here are some concrete action steps you can take, beginning TODAY!

Action Idea #1: Discover what you love to do.

  • If you had a terminal illness, what would you want to do with the time you had left? Write down your response.
  • What’s holding you back from doing this now? Do you choose to wait for a terminal illness to come along before you make time for what you love most?
  • Get your calendar out now, and schedule a time to do some of the things you wrote down.

Action Idea #2: Articulate your values.

  • Jot down the names of 10-20 people whom you admire. They don’t need to be living, and you may have never met them or known them personally.
  • After you’ve completed your list, write down the qualities that you admire in each person you listed. For example, if you listed Mother Teresa, you might describe these qualities: compassion, generosity, and unconditional love. The qualities that you admire in others are YOUR values.
  • How do you honour your values regularly? What’s getting in the way of you honouring them?
  • Pick at least one value that you choose to honour in the coming week. How will you honour it? If you will honour it in the form of an activity, be specific about what the activity is and schedule time on your calendar to make it happen.

Action Idea #3: Identify your priorities and passions.

  • Pretend that you are attending your 100th birthday party and your closest friends and relatives have gathered to honor you. What would you want them to say about you? What would represent a life well lived with no regrets?
  • What matters most to you? What are you most passionate about? Write it down.
  • What one thing could you do–that if you did it regularly–would make the biggest difference in your personal life? How about for your professional life?
  • Get out your calendar and begin planning to do these things regularly.

If you’d like a fresh perspective (and someone to help you design the life you want by aligning your vision, priorities, and actions), then let’s schedule a discovery call today.

Posted in Blog, LIFE.