Lessons From Superman

James Altucher explains how anyone can be Superman in his self-empowerment manifesto Choose Yourself  

Published 7 years ago on Jan 28, 2017 3 minutes Read

From the age of four to the age of 44, I’ve been reading Superman. If I weren’t writing this book, I could sit down today and write 50 sample scripts to submit to DC Comics.

Why is the story of Superman so appealing? It’s of course the idea that we are all Superman. We are all shy and awkward and IF ONLY PEOPLE KNEW the real us. The one underneath the suit, the glasses — the one who spreads the plain, white shirt apart to reveal the bright colors, the superpowers, the unbelievable intelligence, kindness, the moral and physical strength.

It doesn’t have to end. We’re taught when we transition from childhood to adulthood to leave behind the stories of our youth. Don’t listen to that advice. The stories of our youth, if we all hold onto the hidden gems inside, can help us navigate the world like a superhero. The Choose Yourself-ers are the new superheroes. The ones who never lost their Kryptonian heritage. Start off by realising you still have a secret identity. Acknowledge it. Wake up very day and say to yourself, “I’m a superhero — what can I do today to save the world?” And there will be answers. And you’ll see opportunities. And you’ll figure out next steps. You’ll figure out how to fly where you are needed. How to lift the car, how to use your X-ray vision to see solutions that nobody thought possible. If you think about it, Superman actually had no useful powers. We all have the same powers, but we’re afraid to admit it. People always say Batman had no powers and Superman did. But it’s actually the reverse. Think about it: When would you ever need super strength? Are you really picking up a car anytime soon? No, of course not. Heat vision? What for? I have a microwave. X-ray vision? I can see the most beautiful woman in the world naked anytime I want. All of my neighbors are hideous even with clothes on. And we all know that women in general are sexier with skimpy clothes on than totally naked. And super hearing? I already know what everyone thinks about me. I think I would be horrified to hear them say what I already know they think.

What else? Oh yeah, flying. Where would you fly? And people would see you. And you’d eat flies and run into birds. Ew. Forget it. I’m not flying. I don’t even have a driver’s license. I’ll walk. Or take a train and watch a movie on my iPad. Oh, and bullets don’t affect Superman. To be honest, nobody has ever shot at me so this doesn’t seem like a useful power to me.

But just knowing I’m Superman, with secret powers, is enough to make me happy. I AM Superman. I’m above the worries of Earthlings. And I believe that with everything inside of me. That’s my secret. The secret has power. The only superpower you really need is the one to constantly cultivate the attitude that forces you to ask, from the minute you wake up, to the minute you fall asleep, “What life can I save today?” It’s a practice. Often we forget it. We resist it. Instead of saving lives, we worry about saving ourselves too much. “How will I pay the bills?” “What do I do about my boss saying bad things about me?” And so on. 

Instead, superpowers are given to you if all day you try to save at least one life. Try it. Wake up tomorrow and say, “I’m going to save at least one life today.” Even helping an old woman cross the street counts. Even responding to an e-mail and helping someone make an important decision saves a life. Even reaching out to a distant friend and asking, “How are you doing?” can save their life. You can save a life today. Don’t let the sun set without doing that. 

You are Superman.