Not All Heroes Wear Tights

by | Aug 24, 2021

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.


Ryan Reynolds isn’t very funny…said no one ever. Summertime and Ryan Reynolds never fail to deliver awesome movies.

My girls are excited to see his newest movie, Free Guy! A story about your average Joe who courageously chooses to be the hero of his own story, despite being just a “background player.”

Life can be a lot like that.

We may not be running around saving the world from evil supervillains, but each of us can choose how we show up to our challenges in and out of the workplace.

What makes a hero a hero isn’t their tights or even their physical strength (though, I’m sure having these things doesn’t hurt). Their heroism, as Ryan Reynolds’ character “Guy” will tell you, comes from their internal Strength. Their ability to choose consciously how they show up to their challenges.

That same quality is what makes a Thoughtfully Fit leader in the workplace.

Heroes Don’t Always Feel Like Heroes

During quarantine, while facilitating a virtual Thoughtfully Fit Increase Your Impact series, I met Mia.

Like many of us, Mia was feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic. In addition to managing her own work, she also had to look after her kids and make sure they kept up with school. All this from a home that was packed like an episode of Full House—six people and three dogs.

It would’ve been enough to overpower even the strongest hero.

Still, she put on a brave face for her employees and her family. That’s what leaders (and parents) are supposed to do, right? Whenever someone asked how she was doing, she’d respond, “Fine!” I mean, what other choice did she have?

Ultimately, though, that didn’t make her feel like a leader. Instead she felt dishonest, exhausted, and alone.

Mia felt like there were only two options—either wear a mask of bravery or completely break down in front of her team and family. The reality is, there are a slew of choices available to us when it comes to how we show up to a challenge. Mia just had to unlock them.


Find Strength by Unlocking Your Choices

The challenges and villains that heros face can strike fear in them, and often do (I mean, have you seen the joker? Chills!). But in their final battle, heroes make the conscious choice to override their fear and show up intentionally with courage.

Similarly, Thoughtfully Fit leaders can prevent stress and frustration by strategically choosing their actions and how they want to show up to their challenges. The first step is unlocking the choices. When we aren’t aware of all the choices we have available to us, it can limit our ability to Act intentionally.

How do we unlock our choices? By engaging our Thoughtfully Fit core.

When we take time to engage our core—Pause and Think—before fighting our battles, we can unlock the choices we have. Then we can show up to our battles with Strength and Act thoughtfully.

Fighting Your Battles with Strength

We may not be up against some bad guy or fighting a supervillain, but our workplace challenges can make us feel just as intimidated or powerless. However, like heroes, we can override that feeling and choose how to respond.

Maybe your challenge is a staff meeting. Depending on the agenda, they can be just as horrible as the joker. The next time you’re feeling stressed about a meeting, keep that feeling from taking over your actions. Unlock your choices by asking yourself, How do I want to show up?

Your choices may include showing up:

  • Prepared by Pausing to take 15 minutes to review the agenda and write down any notes or questions
  • With confidence by Thinking about your body language and practicing how to give feedback and respond to questions
  • Engaged by Acting with asking thoughtful questions or offering valuable input throughout the meeting

By taking time to unlock the choices we have, we can choose consciously how we want to show up to the battles that test our Strength. Moreover, we can take thoughtful steps forward to prevent ourselves from reacting purely out of emotion.

The Power of Strength

After exploring all the options, Mia chose to show up with more honesty and vulnerability. She resolved to stop saying she felt “fine” when she didn’t. She decided to be more open with her kids and colleagues about her frustrations and expectations.

The result? Ironically, she felt more like a leader.

By being honest and vulnerable, her employees appreciated the transparency and showed her support. And her kids didn’t seem as anxious or annoyed with her.

It can be hard not to give in to feelings of frustration and let those feelings Act for us. But that’s why the practice is called Strength—it can be a heavy lift. Having Strength means acknowledging our feelings, unlocking our choices, and showing up thoughtfully.

As Ryan Reynolds (or any Thoughtfully Fit leader) will tell you, building Strength takes practice. But after a while, defeating our supervillains—or attending our staff meetings thoughtfully—becomes easier. Watching heroes in a movie for inspiration doesn’t hurt either. Speaking of which, I have some Free Guy movie tickets to buy!

One-minute-workoutOne-Minute Core Workout

The next time you’re up against a villainous challenge at work, try engaging your core and unlocking the power of Strength.

  • Pause. When a workplace challenge has you feeling frustrated or stressed.
  • Think. What about this challenge is frustrating or stressful? How do I want to show up to this challenge? What are some actionable steps that correlate with how I want to show up?
  • Act. Slip into your hero suit and face your villain with Strength.

When we choose our actions consciously, we can bring out the hero inside of us and lead with intention.

“You are stronger than you believe. You have greater powers than you know.” – Wonder Woman

I’m here cheering you on….in my own superhero suit (big thanks to the person who anonymously sent it to me for my playfulness challenge)!


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