Emotional Intelligence and Superman

I went and saw the latest Superman move, Man of Steel, last night. I found it to be very entertaining and a nice new spin on the old Superman story. It even kicked up a few moments of emotion (yes, I cried during Superman!), as well as some afterthoughts and inspirations about emotional intelligence…yes, emotional intelligence.

First were the father-son relationships, both between Clark Kent and his foster human dad Jonathan (Kevin Costner), and Kal-El (Superman) and his biological father Jor-El (Russell Crowe). No doubt about the level of love in both relationships. Both dads wanted the best for their son. The sacrifice and lessons that the dads displayed were full of integrity.

Great pre-Father’s day lessons, and this was part of the emotionally cathartic stimulus the movie had for me. I still miss my dad and wish I had gone to him for more of his wisdom and guidance. I wish I could talk with and interact with even just his “consciousness.”

If you’re a dad, I invite you to share everything you can with your son, even if it feels awkward and even if he seems to be resisting it. You never know how those seeds may germinate into some greatness the world truly needs.

If you’re a son, I invite you to spend some extra time with your dad. Ask him the questions you’ve never asked him. Invite him to share his experiences and wisdom. Yes, even it feels awkward and uncomfortable. He could be gone tomorrow.

(This works equally as well and as powerfully for daughters, too.)

We may not have thought of our dads as being very emotionally intelligent, but if you look, you’ll likely find plenty of tidbits of EQ lessons.

The second a-ha was the love Lois had for Superman. She understood, accepted, supported and encouraged Superman. This wasn’t the old Lois Lane who was only enamored by Superman; this was a woman who “got” his struggles.

There is no greater act of love than to understand, accept, support and encourage another. We all need these cornerstones of love and when we get them, we shine…we become the super persons that we truly are.

Emotional intelligence IS relational intelligence. Period.

All of which brings the third insight of this cinematic therapy: Even Superman needed some help. As mighty and invincible as Superman was, he still needed the help of both the military and Lois.

No matter how great and wonderful, smart and talented, creative and self-sufficient each of us might be, we still will never truly reach the height of our potential without a powerful support network.

One of my mentors has repeatedly reminded me, “Your net worth is based on your network.”

One of the most emotionally intelligent things you can do for yourself is ask for help and build a powerful and reliable support system around you.

The forth and final Superman lesson I left the theater with can be summarized in one word: Humility.

How easy it would have been for Superman to be grandiose and arrogant because of all his super powers and indestructible nature, but instead, he almost always played the more humble role.

I have to admit that this one smacked me between the eyes. How easy it is to let power, prestige and position go to one’s head and inflate the ego to a “look at how great I am” level.

Superman, however, played it cool. Not passive, just cool.

Emotional intelligence is humble and yet powerful. When you know how to effectively blend humility with power and gratitude, you have an unstoppable force.

So, my four primary emotionally intelligent Man of Steel lessons and action steps:

1.)   Appreciate the lessons, experience and wisdom of your father. No matter how great or dysfunctional the relationship might have been, he gave you your life. Now it’s your turn to make the most of this life and live your father’s legacy.

2.)   Work out the love muscles of understanding, accepting, encouraging and nurturing. You didn’t learn any of this in your traditional schooling so it may seem and feel foreign. Do it anyway.

3.)    The Beatles were right: You get by with a little help from your friends. If you don’t ask for it, you’re likely to not receive it. Likewise, when you see a friend in need, offer a hand or a shoulder.

4.)   Practice humility. Something else you likely didn’t learn about in school. This doesn’t mean being passive or invisible, it just means that you have gifts, talents and roles to play in this lifetime of yours. Use your capacities and opportunities for the betterment of humankind, not to inflate your ego.


That’s all I’ve got for now.
Make it a Super Emotionally Intelligent Day!


And Marry YourSelf First!



About Ken Donaldson

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