Killing Clark Kent

Written by
Michael Wells

Killing Clark Kent

To Free Your Superman

Written by
Michael Wells

Killing Clark Kent

To Free Your Superman

Written by
Michael Wells
Self-Development
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QUESTION
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When I co-founded BROJO, this was the very first piece of art that I made. 

Awesome, yeah?

It was an attempt to describe what we’re about.

In my view, self-development is all about bringing your best self to the front of your world, and making it your everyday self. 

This idea is just as relevant to me now as it was then.

When I look at the world, at the people I coach, and at my own life- I’m confronted with this reality every day.

We’re capable of so much.

We even know exactly what our ideal self would do right now... and yet... we rarely live at that level of possibility.

It’s not that we’re bad or pathetic [ most days ], it's that the choices we make are so... mediocre.

So what holds us back?

Superman v. Clark Kent

When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the DC character Superman, he was pretty much perfect. Indestructible. Infinitely strong. He could freakin’ fly. He was born with a level of greatness and capability at which humans would just drool at.  

Yet, he did a very human thing... he spent most of his time hiding it, in the form of an alter ego he called Clark Kent.

Why? 

Was it because he wanted to fit in well with family and friends?

Was it to make others comfortable?

Was it to protect himself from public reactions of fear, and envy?

If we’re honest, Superman was a bit of a people-pleaser. He cared more about what others thought about him, than he did about being his best, most authentic self, all the time. 

Why is this a Problem?

In your mind there are two YOU’s.

There is the YOU that you are most days, and there is the YOU that you are at your very best- the version of yourself who you’d ideally like to be all the time.

These two YOUs somehow aren’t the same person. And yet they’re both you.

So... which one are you most of the time?

Are you usually the lazy guy who wants to drink beer and watch Netflix after work? Or are you the adventurer who travels and climbs mountains?

Are you the quiet guy who stays home and plays video games, or the social guy who goes out and immerses himself in life, meeting new people everywhere you go?

Do you stand back from competing? Try not to stand out, or “win”, or do you push yourself to be your best self, with zero anxiety, even while everyone else is watching? 

Do you look at others with envy, or do you chase your dreams?

You've been both of these people, but which one are you really?

One possibility is that you’re both of these people, and you switch back and forth. Your energy level, life circumstances, etc, cause you to flip from one YOU to the other.

Another answer is that you’re the “everyday” version of you, but sometimes, you don the superman outfit, and you’re something different. The ideal you. 

But I think those are both wrong.

I think the right way to understand this internal dynamic is to realize that you are that ideal version of yourself, always. But, things hold you back, distract you, disrupt you, derail you, because you let them

We hide that version of ourselves for lots of reasons;

  • Fear.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of standing out.
  • Fear of looking like we have a superiority complex 
  • Laziness- instant gratification v. long-term goal rewards 

But living as Clark Kent isn't free.

What happens when you stop caring about what others think, and embrace the fact that some people might just not like you?

The closest examples we have today are Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, people who aren’t constrained by public opinion. They don't seek approval, and just pursue their own dreams to accomplish everything they can with their lives.

In the past, people like Gandhi and Michelangelo come to mind, among many others.

Certainly these people are not flawless. But they stand out today, and in the history books, simply because they did not hold themselves back from what they were capable of.

Who’s your Clark Kent?

Grab a piece of paper, or open your favorite note taking app, and answer these questions.

  1. Who are you, really, on a normal day? 
  2. Who do you want to be, on your best day?
  3. Why are they different right now?

Who’s your Superman?

Now write down a complete description of your best self, on an ideal day. 

Nothing holding you back. Not caring what anyone thinks.

Who are you? How do you behave towards others? What does your day look like? How do you approach the challenges, and the challenging people in your day?

Write that list carefully, and think about it. 

And then when you’re done, just above it, write...

This is who I am.

Because this is the real you. 

Killing Clark Kent

The difference between you as your Clark Kent, and you as your Superman, is your behaviors, your priorities, and the decisions you make.

Every moment of your day, you’re making choices like what to do right now, what to eat, whether to go to the gym today, or to study for that exam, or say hi to that cute girl.

I’m thirsty. Should I drink water, or another diet soda? I’m hungry. Salad, or hamburger? I'm bored. Should I challenge myself to grow, or entertain myself into a coma?

But before you make any of these decisions, you're making a much more fundamental choice first- which is this...
You are choosing who you make these decisions as.

Most people I know see themselves as 99% Clark Kent, 1% Superman. 

But that choice is up to you.

Does pretending to be Clark Kent make your life better somehow?

I can't see how.

Perhaps it's time to consciously choose differently.

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First published on 
. Last updated on 
October 30, 2022

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    Addendum

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