By Jim Whitt
Time for a multiple choice test. Take a look at the graphic on the left and tell me what you see:
B. Clark Kent
C. Jim Whitt on steroids
This is similar to a test I pose to audiences whenever I’m speaking. The graphic is the cover of my book, The Transformational Power of Purpose: Finding and Fulfilling Your Purpose in Life. I will show the book to an audience member and ask him or her what he or she sees on the cover. The answer is always Superman. I’ll ask another and the answer is Superman. I’ll ask another, and another and another and they all say Superman. After half-a-dozen or so Superman answers, someone will say Clark Kent. And of course, I’ll get a Jim Whitt every now and then which gives everybody a good laugh.
There is only one incorrect answer and that would be C (I’ve never taken steroids). A and B are both correct. Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same. In an article entitled Why I Love Superman*, best-selling novelist, Brad Meltzer writes, “The best part of the story has never been the Superman part. It’s the Clark Kent part: the idea that all of us are so plain, so ordinary, but we know what it’s like to want to rip open our shirts and do something to better the world.” I agree. So, how are we seemingly plain, ordinary people transformed into superheroes?
The answer can be found in the brilliant Italian film, Life is Beautiful. Guido, the lead character, has gone to work in the restaurant of a hotel owned by his uncle. In one comical yet poignant scene, the uncle is tutoring Guido on the finer points of being a waiter, “Serving is a supreme art,” says the uncle. “God is the first servant.” Super and supreme share this common definition in the dictionary — superiority over all others. Since serving is a supreme art, it is a superhuman desire to serve others. All of the superheroes in literature are selfless, tireless servants. They expect nothing in return for their noble acts. They are motivated not by reward and punishment but by the fulfillment of their purpose. They understand who they are in life’s big picture. Their service to others is a “supreme art.” They are representative of the image in which they are created — a Supreme or Super Being.
Take a look in the mirror. What do you see? Like Clark Kent, that ordinary looking person is not the real you. A superhuman is trapped inside your mild-mannered mortal body crying out to be liberated. Hey, it’s me — the real you. I’m faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. But I am bound by the kryptonite of purposelessness. Free me so I can fulfill my destiny! While your superhuman may not have X-ray vision or be able to bend steel with its bare hands it nevertheless possesses unique supernatural abilities. The real you is ready to rip off your shirt and assume your superhuman identity so that you can fulfill your purpose.
What’s your true identity? What’s your purpose? Well, I wrote the book so that you can find the answers to those questions.
*USA WEEKEND, Aug. 29-31, 2008