I love Batman.
Most will agree that the best Batman movies were Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. There are tons of life & career lessons to learn from Batman and Bruce Wayne in all the 3 movies.
And the quotes are phenomenal, they are one of the best you will find in movies.
How can anyone forget The Joker by Heath Ledger; and Bane played by Tom Hardy. And who doesn’t want to see a movie with Liam Neeson or Michael Caine in it?
All-in-all one of the best movie packages ever!!
This post is a tribute to one of my favorite superheroes – Bruce Wayne/ Batman. I want to share what I thought were some of the best career lessons to learn from Batman.
1. Actions Speak Louder than Intentions
“It’s not who you are underneath, its what you do that defines you.”
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne tries to open up to Rachel by telling her how he is different from the image he projects that of a spoilt & self-entitled Playboy Billionaire. However, Rachel quickly teaches him about the importance of one’s action. She tells him that one’s actions define himself or herself, rather than his/her intentions. (Of course, we all know that Bruce Wayne is not a lazy Billionaire – he is f***ing Batman. And he kicks tons of bad guy ass to save Gotham City.
You have the best of intentions, the best of hopes, the best of wishes, and the best of dreams. But none of it matters unless you do something.
Are you a good person? Do you consider yourself to be a hard worker? It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do.
Yes, your actions do speak louder than your words.
You are unemployed. Don’t waste your energy fretting over how things suck. Instead, do something about it. Update your resume and start applying for jobs. Talk to everyone in your network and ask them for suggestions. Go out to events, job fairs, breakfast meetings. Put yourself out there.
You are ambitious. and you want that promotion. Good !! that’s a good start. But how do you manifest that?
Go speak to your boss or mentor and ask them for their suggestions. Tell them about your intentions. Most people are more than willing to guide you.
You want to be the best at what you do. And you want companies to start knocking on your doors to offer you the best career option. It’s possible. But get to work. Sharpen your skills. Learn more. Become sharper. Do whatever it takes. The more good you become at your job. The more confident you become, and the more opportunities you open for yourself.
Nothing changes until you get off your ass, and get to work. Unless and until you take action – your work or career won’t improve.
2. Face Your Fears
“What you fear is inside yourself. You fear your power. You fear your anger, the drive to do great or terrible things.”
And perhaps this is why Batman is one of my favorite superheroes ever. And perhaps why most of us relate to him. Bruce Wayne was not born with superpowers – but he built himself up and became Batman by facing his fears.
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne spends time with Ra’s-Al-Ghul and his henchmen training & learning how to fight. Most importantly, he learns what his true fears are, and how to face them squarely. Bruce slowly evolved into his alter ego by confronting his fears head-on.
We are all afraid. The only people who are not afraid are either dead or in asylums. Yes, we all have fears in one way or another.
However, in many cases, our fears aren’t as big as they initially appear to be. In most cases, they are our bogus assumptions.
Either you analyze what you are afraid of, break those assumptions, and eliminate it. Or you go out and face that fear. And you will learn that it was not that bad after all. In many cases, you will become stronger because of facing your fear.
Are you afraid to get a raise? Are you afraid of picking up the phone and calling that hot-shot prospect? Are you trembling with the thought of having to present in front of the board?
Whatever your fear – trust me, you are not alone. Others have faced it. But few of them decided to do something about it. Few of them have got raises at work, few have got promotions, few have nailed that presentation, few have quit their jobs for better ones.
So can you. Just face your fears squarely. Unlike Bruce Wayne, you do not have to enter a dark Batcave to confront your fears.
3. Learn From Failure
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
The Nolan-Bale Batman Trilogy starts with an epic motivational scene, doesn’t it?
Young Bruce Wayne goes out playing with Rachel Dawes; and then he falls into the well. That’s when he is the most scared in his life. He is attacked by bats dwelling in the well.
As young Bruce is rescued by his father and being taken home we hear the most epic quote ever. We learned about the importance of learning from failure. Throughout the 3 movies in the Trilogy – Bruce/Batman faces tons of failures, heartaches, and pain. But every time, he learns from it and comes back stronger than before.
In your career, you will face disappointment. Trust me you will. You will be fired, downsized, laid off. One day you walk into your office and you will learn that your job is no longer relevant. You will lose your promotion to another incompetent colleague. These things have happened to tons of people, and you are not immune. There are lots of things that will happen outside of your control.
The key lesson here is not to let any of that demotivate you or deter you. It is painful at the moment.
However, strive to learn from those situations. What does not kill you does make you stronger!!
You can reinvent yourself. You can learn what your weaknesses are and build on them. You can learn to maximize your strengths and profit from them.
You will fall, sorry!! All of us have. But the important lesson is to learn to pick yourself up again and keep moving forward. Embrace failure and pain as your friend. Accept that it will happen. And when it happens you will learn from it and grow stronger.
4. You Will Face Bigger Challenges as You Grow
“You fight like a younger man, with nothing held back. Admirable but mistaken.” – Bane
Bruce Wayne in his quest to becoming Batman faces many challenges. It starts with a prison fight where he shows that he is stronger than a bunch of thugs. And then he trains with the League of Shadows and becomes stronger.
Then he starts riding Gotham of criminals. With each enemy he faces, he is faced with bigger challenges. And that teaches him to adapt and become stronger.
Of course, he faces the unpredictably dangerous Joker. He learns to fight the Joker too.
Then he faces his strongest enemy Bane and he is beaten down physically and mentally, and stripped of everything.
He learns to overcome all his challenges and enemies.
I know I summarized all the 3 movies in the last few paragraphs. And I did miss some enemies he faced in the process. The point is as Bruce/Batman moved through this journey – he was confronted by bigger challenges.
That is life. The more you grow, the stronger you become – you will face bigger challenges. And as you defeat those challenges – you get more challenges. The complexity of the problems and challenges increase over time, and they become bigger as you move up the food chain.
As you move through your career you will see bigger and bigger challenges. As an intern, your challenge might be to win the employer’s trust to get that full-time job.
Then you become an employee and you are provided tasks that are simple but not easy. You overcome them, you learn, you become better and then what? You are promoted.
One day you become a manager. You need to learn to handle your subordinates, and also your upper management. You need to sharpen your people skills and competencies. Then as you become good at that -you reach the top. (Trust me, it is not easy, you will put in long hours).
Yes, the CEO gets paid much more than the intern. However, he/she is faced with bigger problems. Keeping shareholders, suppliers, investors, employees happy, and maintaining the health of the company. And on top of that taking care of your family if you have one.
Adopt the mindset that to reach the top, you will do whatever is necessary. You will face your Ra’s Al-Ghul, your Joker, and your Bane head-on. You will overcome those challenges. Expect them, anticipate them, Face them but don’t let them stop you.
5. Strive for an Ideal
“If you make yourself more than just a man if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely.” – RA’s al-Ghul
Bruce’s metamorphosis to Batman began when he met his mentor (and later his enemy) Ra’s Al-Ghul.
Mr.Ducard or Ra’s Al-Ghul took Bruce Wayne under his wings and trained him. He helped him understand his deepest fears and also helped him to confront it. But the most important lesson that Bruce received was the importance of striving for an ideal. And that is the reason he chose a symbol rather than just Bruce Wayne to fight injustice & criminals in Gotham City.
Batman is the idea that Bruce Wayne strived towards. Batman is incorruptible, and he is tested multiple times. He does not kill his enemies, he imprisons them.
He does the right thing. Despite, all the hurdles and challenges – he is not broken. He knows what is right for Gotham, even if he does not get the credit or no one knows who he is. That was his ideal.
Do you have an idea that you strive towards? Are you OK with the cards life deals you, or do you want more?
When you start in your career- you do not have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve. Most people don’t.
But as you get older and get more exposure -you will eventually discover what you want.
Clarify your wants, your desires. Also, clarify your values, what do you stand for, and what you do not stand for.
Do you want to work for or build a company that only cares about profits? Or does it matter to you that what you do has an impact on the world?
There are no right or wrong answers here. Only you can define these. Get crystal clear on who you are, who you want to become, what you want to have. And start building your career based on those answers.
Most people become frustrated with their jobs or career when there is a misalignment between one’s core values and the values of the company they work for.
If it is not aligned, find an environment or a job where the values are aligned. If you never find that ideal company, create one.
There is a Batman in all of us. And that is why we love Batman. No matter how many Batman movies they make – people will watch them. Because we can relate to Bruce Wayne. We strive to be Batman in our own lives. Maybe we don’t wear a cape, but we do strive towards something better.
And in closing, I want to leave you with one of the most profound quotes from the Batman Trilogy…