5 Career Lessons to Learn from Superman

He stands 6 foot 3 inches, weighs 235 pounds, has blue eyes and black hair.  His biceps bulge, his abs are rock hard and he fights the baddest of the bad on a daily basis.

For a guy celebrating his 75th anniversary – and who still makes the ladies swoon – that’s not too shabby.

Superman burst onto the scene in June 1938 as a superhero in Action Comics #1. Clad in his trademark boots, cape and body suit, there’s been no stopping him since. (Check out this cool video on his anniversary.)

He’s appeared in comics, on radio, on television, in the movies and video games. The “S” that adorns his chest is a widely recognized personal brand. His career has survived villainous attempts to derail it, and there is never a lack of demand for his talents and skills.

So, what can we learn from the guy who has inspired us and continues to have a thriving career three-quarters of a decade after he landed on the pages of our imagination?

Here are some ways that the Man of Steel has stayed in the lead of the superhero pack:

  1. He maintains personal appearances. You’re not going to see Superman fight Lex Luthor in a pair of Uggs and pajama pants. Wrinkled khakis while saving the world? Forget it. This is a guy who values the power of appearances, and he keeps those boots shined, the cape ironed and the biceps buffed.  It’s estimated that people make judgments about you based on your appearance within about six seconds of meeting you. Superman knows how to make an entrance.
  2. Change doesn’t daunt him.  Superman knows he has to change with the times, and his persona has reflected the different moods of a nation going through various wars, upheavals and cultural shifts.  He embraces differences and leads through example by treating everyone fairly and with respect.
  3. He maintains his moral compass. Corrupt leaders make great headlines, but lousy bosses. Superman has drawn his line in the sand and never crosses it. Can you say the same about your career? Or, have you succumbed to office politics, bottom-line pressures or other factors that have you breaking a personal and professional morale code of conduct? Maybe it’s time to take a page from Superman’s book and figure out what you stand for – and stick with it.
  4. He knows how to market his skills. OK, so leaping over tall buildings with a single bound and being able to fly are not skills everyone can emulate, but you have to admit the guy knows how to make others appreciate him. He’s not afraid to offers his skills to a wide range of industries, and isn’t afraid to take risks. Being able to always demonstrate your value is critical throughout a career. You don’t see Superman resting on his laurels from 1954, do you? The guy is as viable in the marketplace today as he was when Harry S. Truman was president.
  5. He knows his weak spots.  One word: Kryptonite. You’re not going to see Superman embrace Kryptonite, but instead find ways to work around it. How many times have you found yourself making the same mistake over and over because you keep embracing your Kryptonite? If you’re a lousy writer, for example, then get some help before you write another crappy report that has the boss screaming for your dismissal.

We’ve all grown up with Superman, and maybe we take the guy for granted because he’s been around for so long. But it’s that longevity that we shouldn’t take for granted – and instead see it as an opportunity to learn from one of the greatest careers around.

What has Superman taught you?















Photo Credit © HollywoodReporter

Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is a syndicated columnist for Gannett/USA Today on workplace issues and the author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy.” She has been on the Today show, and quoted in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self.com and BusinessWeek.com. Her website, 45things.com, is listed on the Forbes top 100 websites for women.

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