I spent three days at the CultureSync Leadership Unleashed last week and the time I spent here impacted me in some scary ways. In one session, we spoke about the Batman effect and used that story to help us identify our great gift. My great gift was something I did not expect and this had a strong effect on me this week. To learn more about the Batman effect and the impact of learning my gift, I invite you to read on.
I will write another blog post about the Leadership Unleashed event but I wanted to keep this separate because for me, this was the best gift I got out of the entire event. Let’s start by talking a bit about the Batman effect. To learn more, I invite you to listen to this clip of Dave Logan explaining the Batman effect in one of his talks. The relevant piece is between the 12:40 and 14:00 mark of the video.
During the live event this week, Dave Logan spoke about the Batman effect in similar manner to the clip above. After his talk, we needed to work in triads to identify the great gift we bring to the world. As I often did in the last few years, I brought it up in terms of the stuff I can do. Specifically, I spoke about my ability to communicate difficult concepts in layman’s terms that most people could understand easily.
Someone at my table challenged me on that and told me that something did not sound quite right about it. He could recognize my communications skills were possibly good, but that was not the gift I bring that can change the world and that somehow, it just sounded hollow. Unable to think of anything else, I invited one of my approval stage triad mates Carrie to chime in and help me.
The first thing she asked me was for me to name what I thought was my greatest gift. So I told her about the communication aspects, she looked at me and smiled and told me something close to: “That’s not it, your gift comes from a different place, look inside yourself and you will find the true answer.”
So she asked me if I trusted her and I answered yes. She asked me to close my eyes, put my hand on my heart and ask to see what would come up and the answer I got was “empathy”. This may seem like a good thing, but realizing this is my great gift occurs to me like giving Superman a bar of Kryptonite and telling him to use this gift to change the world. Carrie was amazingly sympathetic when she saw the effect this realization had on me. We had a fun moment lying outside on the ground looking up at a gray sky with light rain falling on us and talking through it.
Remember in the Batman story above, there is a point where Bruce Wayne, locked in a box, desperately waiting for Batman to come save him suddenly remembers that HE is Batman. Once he realizes this, he breaks out of the box and beats up the bad guys.
That specific moment came to me at 4:00am the next morning. Unable to sleep, I remembered my great gift is much larger than just empathy it is the ability to read people and feel their emotions. My gift is also finding the words that give them courage or inspire them to try something they would not dare to try before. Remembering this also resurrected how much this gift can hurt because you do not always feel positive energy, you may not want to feel it and these things may deeply hurt you.
I also realized that I consider this Kryptonite because of what I associate to leadership. Leaders must be strong for the people surrounding them. I realized this needs to change to “Leaders must be strong for others when they need it but strong leaders must be vulnerable to inspire people to greatness”.
At that moment in time, at 4:00am, I reflected on the past day and it occurred to me that I finally fully remembered the gift that turns me into some form of “Batman”. I finally learned what I need to step into and accept to powerfully change the world around me.
Today, I decided to change how this emotional side occurs to me and instead of considering it weakness I found two new ways to help myself accept. The first is what can happen with people taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medicine for a long time. These will make you numb emotionally and when some people get off them, feeling what they were no longer used to feeling seems like something very raw and overwhelming. They feel this way until they can manage their own feelings again.
I also found that I could look at it as a radio that startles me because it is always at maximum volume when I turn it on. Eventually, I will learn to check the volume knob but until I do, I need to accept the sound may initially startle me and I need to turn the volume down a few notches.
On my last day at Leadership Unleashed, I shared much of this with people around me. I had a very emotional day in service to myself and others and learned people found me to be different and much most present.
Thank you to Carrie and David. Both of you truly bring out the best in me and push me in unexplored territory!