If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Me? It took me well into adulthood to realize my answer.
When I was a kid, I collected comic books.
My favorite superhero?
It was a tie.
Wolverine – impulsive, savage, nigh-invulnerable bad-ass.
Batman – human, no superpowers.
So still theoretically obtainable if you happened to be born into obscene wealth, with piss poor luck, and the right genetics.
I have none of those things.
Today, I’m an adult.
And my favorite superhero?
Daredevil is blind.
His super power is ostensibly his increased reflexes and “radar sense” that more than compensates for his lost sight.
But that’s not his true superpower.
The real reason Daredevil wins out?
He’s the Man Without Fear.
This—more than flight, more than invisibility, or super strength—whatever – This is the ultimate superpower:
The ability to act, to execute.
On some level, most people live in fear.
Fear of losing their job, their spouse, their freedom.
But what if you could turn that off?
Act with pure instinct, based on nothing more than the reality that our lives are vanishingly short so in the cosmic sense, you literally have nothing to lose.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you felt no fear – that you had nothing to lose.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
Some of the greatest U.S. entrepreneurs of the modern era have cited as their motivation, FOMO.
Fear of Missing Out.
Aka, a realization of mortality.
Jeff Bezos cited his “regret minimization framework” for his decision to leave his Wall Street job to start an online book-selling website called Amazon.
In his famous commencement address at Stanford, Apple founder Steve Jobs said:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
When I was a teen I liked Daredevil best among all the 1960s superheroes because
- Spider-Man was too whiny;
- Thor was a god; and
- While I loved the duality of the Hulk, ultimately I didn’t like the trade-off between off-the-charts intelligence and brute strength.
But Daredevil was flawed. His lack of sight forced him to compensate – confront his demons and act anyway.
And that, my friends, is my greatest wish, both for you, and for myself.
Imagine everything you could accomplish if fear didn’t hold you back.
If you had no shame associated with approaching a stranger, or a company CEO, and simply asking for what you wanted.
The capacity to risk,
Far too many of us are handicapped by fear, by social mores that prescribe “that which is proper, that which is appropriate.”
I’m a weenie.
But, I’m proud to say that I don’t always play by the rules.
I believe in ticket scalpers.
For instance, I’ve attended no less than ten sold-out concerts (including one of Madonna’s, in her prime) without tickets, and been able to either procure tickets on the spot, or (I kid you not) talk my way in.
But the broader point is what the scalpers represent — I lean on the side of going after what I want, and asking for official permission later.
I learned this from my mom, Peggy.
In 1991, she and I took a road trip out west – to Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. I was 12.
And I learned that my mom doesn’t believe in reservations.
Rather, she believes in karma.
So in the middle of summer we arrived at the Old Faithful Inn without a reservation.
The Old Faithful Inn is the premier hotel in Yosemite National Forest – as the name implies, it overlooks Old Faithful.
People reserve rooms there a year and a half in advance.
But not my mom.
We drove right up, checked with the front desk to see if there were any last-minute cancellations.
As it turns out, there weren’t.
But she was able to negotiate our stay for the next two nights in a private office, where we laid out our sleeping bags and still had access to all the amenities of the sold-out lodge.
I’ve never forgotten that.
So much of life is about risk, but much more of life is simply about making the ask.
Ask for what you want – negotiate, no matter how outlandish.
Make Daredevil proud with your lack of fear.
The results may surprise you.