Originally published on Medium < https://medium.com/@jesse_irizarry >
“Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.”
I have a word poster with that written hanging on a wall in my office. My girlfriend got it for me a while back. She thought it was cute and very fitting for me. It is. I’ve recently been thinking more about it, though. And so, knowing full well that I’ll expose just how much of a nerd I doubtlessly am, I’m going to give a commentary on why, and how, we should all be a little more like Batman.
To answer the question before it’s asked — I haven’t been carried so far off by my eccentricities that I’ve let myself become disjointed from the material world. Yes, I’m aware he’s a fictional character. And yes, writing something like this is more than a little offbeat. But many of us can learn and pull more insight from stories than from hearing a lecture on how we should or shouldn’t live.
A carefully crafted character in story can be an embodiment of the qualities we understand as most significant. Having models that we try to align ourselves with when our legs are a little heavy and our eyes a little blurry can get us up and moving, and it’s about movement.
We don’t need to obsessively compare ourselves to someone or something and get all pissy when we screw up. We can just study how our standard acts with and lives from these ideals and then practice creating something similar of ourselves, with all our unique and standout authenticity.I prefer to study the ideals I find in the story of a fictional person, less chance of being disappointed with the human behind the principles. The Batman has no lack of idyllic traits. Here’s three.
Batman Has Learned A Skill For Every Task
Obviously he can sneak up completely undetected and engage, disorient, and skillfully incapacitate a small army sized group of psychopathic criminals one by one. But let’s move past the skill he built to be the most dangerous combatant who can beat the living crap out of any poor soul who thinks it smart to challenge a guy who jumps off rooftops wearing head to toe body armor complete with a helmet that has two pointy things sticking out for no other reason than to resemble a bat.
Whatever the situation or need, Batman is qualified to deal with it. He’s learned a skill or technique or tactic for just about every problem he could be faced with. There’s not much he hasn’t studied, at least a little. He’s intently studied psychology to help him think like sociopaths and catch criminals that no one else could. He studied under genius engineers to learn how to build and repair all the technologically advanced machines and gadgets he uses. He’s learned how to maneuver cars at high speeds under any condition from professional drivers. He knows how to pilot almost any aircraft. He’s studied acting to go undercover in disguise and to pick up on the subtleties of human interaction. He’s become an expert linguist so that he’s never in a place where he can’t communicate with or listen to the other’s conversations.
There’s even a story in the comics that shows how he’s mastered some form of meditation that makes it possible for him to sit up all night in some eerie, partially awake state where he’s still completely alert to any noise or movement but his body and mind are resting so that he’d feel refreshed (as if he’d slept) to deal with the riff-raff that was bound to show up where he was waiting for them.
There’s more, but the point is that he’s made himself capable and skillful in many, many different domains. When people think of Batman, they usually just think of how good he is at roundhouse kicking people to the face, and yes he’s known for that too. He wouldn’t be Batman though, if he was only great at that just one thing.
Lots of driven people get caught up in obsessively focusing on one thing. We’re told that you can’t get great at anything if you’re not focused on only one thing. That’s not wrong. There can be directed times where you try to improve in one area and be the best you can be.
You, like me, most likely won’t be the best there is in whatever we direct our effort no matter how much we focus. But say you’re very good at one thing, and then kind of good at a few other things. Well, then you, yourself, are something new and different. Unique, helpful, and fit for many situations instead of only one.
There’s a limit to this. The extent to which Batman has made himself adept is far beyond what’s reasonable. That’s the point of an ideal though, it’s something to give you direction so that you can see where you end up.
Batman Has Something Useful To Offer Everyone
When the Justice League, Batman’s group of superhero friends that periodically band together to save the world and stuff, run into some complicated situation, Batman usually already has a plan. Or if there’s no need for a plan, he has what they need to solve the problem.
That huge scope of skillful ability and education gives him the resourcefulness to be useful in any crisis. So even though he’s the only one in the League with literally no superpowers, they often listen and follow everything he says.He provides insight, experience, and tech to prevent catastrophe or control the outcomes.If one of Batman’s allies is in need of some piece of data or information, he’s usually able to provide it, or at least knows someone who can. He’s made it his business to collect information on everything and everyone important to the work he does and has files stored one everything he’s learned.
If there’s one thing any member of the Justice League needs to beat a group of super-powered psychos, you bet your ass
Batman has that one thing in one of his vehicles, utility belt, or hidden in his batcave. And like him, we don’t need to be super-powered to be useful to more people in more situations. We just need to do a little more than most will, and really that’s not all that much.
Batman Has “More”
Yeah, more money. More money than us all, which means he can afford to build more technology, weapons, and battle vehicles. But by more, I mean that he has a reserve to take from if need be and not just of things you’d need to be a billionaire to have.
He always has a backup, and often the backup is useful under specific circumstances that brought on the need for it. If his armored suit gets damaged, he has others stashed away. Some of these back-ups have different protective or tactical capabilities for those special situations he may be in. If a group of criminals ambush him in a congested part of the city and blow up his car, he has a motorcycle he can use that maneuvers better through narrow city streets.
The weapons and tech does call for that off-shore bank account but this reserve also applies to his personal abilities and physical traits. When he fights, he’s actually holding back. He’s learned just about every way to kill someone so that he can effectively incapacitate people quickly, without killing them. Point is, that there’s more there if he needs it. More ability, more skill, more technique, more strength, more sharp resourcefulness.
Why’s it there? Because he intentionally reached for it. Too many of us learn just enough to get by or be seen as competent in or qualified for something. We may be able to do what’s asked of us or can at least say the right things to save face so that people think we’re in the know. When we learn some new skill, we pick up the basics but never push to learn more about it, how it relates to something else, or how some ability we already have can be applied to this new skill.
There’s no need to be an expert in everything, and trying to do that will drive you to turn out more like the Joker than the Batman. But we can try to push just a little beyond just OK, and we can try to learn a little more than the superficial layer that keeps us from looking like simpletons. We can try to dig a little deeper and collect a little more than what’s needed just to get by. That way, if we are called out, called up, challenged, asked to help, or needed to be helpful, we can be. Maybe when no one else can.
Like Batman, always like Batman.