Forget Kindergarten! I Learned About Workplaces From Batman!
Some people learned everything they needed to know about life in kindergarten — but I learned everything I needed to know about life — and the workplace — from Batman! I’m not talking that Dark Knight guy; I’m talking about Adam West’s Batman — that fun, campy Batman from the 1960s.
So slide down the Batpole with me, and let’s explore!
There Are Villains in Our Workplaces
There are Jokers in the workplace: people who purposely toss obstacles in front of you, hoping you’ll make bad decisions. They’ve put super glue on the steps of the corporate ladder in hopes of keeping you from climbing — while climbing right over you!
Worse, they are usually there to point the finger — AT YOU — when things go wrong. You’ve been warned!
Batman taught me there are Catwomen in our lives — or should I say, “Catty Women.” And Catty Men! I learned that these Catty people are out there talking smack about others. They gossip and speak of you in a negative light.
Why do they do this? Is it something you represent that they cannot have? Is it your brilliance? Your ability to take risks? Is it because you took the honest road? A different road? An unconventional road?
Whatever the case, beware! Sadly, these Catty people have nine corporate lives.
Remember Mr. Freeze? He’s right there in the corner office. The Mr. Freezes of the workplace are those stone-cold, cold-hearted people who just won’t let you into their lives (or offices) no matter how hard you try. They shut you out. They’re always on the defensive. They’re guarded. They share nothing personal and usually have limited interpersonal skills. While they’re often good at their jobs, they can make for a very unhappy workplace when in manager/leadership roles — especially when they are your manager/leader!
Look around right now. Who in your workplace wants to rule and dominate the kingdom? Who expects you to take their word as law of the land? Who believes that your ideas and opinions don’t matter? Yes, this is the Corporate King Tut. King Tut will tell you you’re empowered — the keyword here being “tell.” What you actually are is “empowered” to do things their way! Navigating the King becomes a job in itself.
Remember the Riddler? How he teased and tormented! How he would give clues to keep Batman and the police confused! Sadly, there are those in the workplace who think (withholding) information is power. Withholding information is not power — it kills employee souls and stops great things from happening.
Even today, 50 years later, such characters are walking halls and entering conference rooms across the globe. And for whatever reason, leadership keeps them around at the expense of organizational happiness and productivity.
But, There’s Good News!
We all have a Robin (or two) out there: those people who have your back; who are with you through it all. They are business partners, mentees, teammates, BFFs, spouses, and coworkers.
Is there a Robin in your life? Or two? The ones that look out for you, care for you and want you to succeed? They know your next move and are one step ahead of you, making you look good. They let you teach them while at the same time offering you advice — even though you kick and scream at times. They’ve shared youthful wisdom that helps you grow and keeps you relevant and current.
And we all (should) have our version of Batman’s utility belt — but ours may not include cans of shark repellent, Batarangs with five-story-high ropes attached, or 6 ft. x 6 ft. bulletproof shields. Still, Batman’s utility belt taught me the importance of having — and taking advantage of — the right available resources.
Today, from my utility belt I might pull a bicycle. My bicycle is my place to escape, think, create, and solve problems — a process I call “Bikestorming.” Smartphones have become modern-day utility belts, too! They make us more efficient (with productivity tools) and smarter (with knowledge and reading apps).
And of course, my beanie cap (uh, my costume?), on which I have built a brand. It’s a reminder to go out every day, be who I am, and do the one thing I believe in: fight the crime of unhappiness in the workplace while infusing fun (with a purpose) into as many aspects of the employee experience as possible!
Kindergarten taught me to take a nap. But that campy fun 1960s show taught me life and business lessons. After reading this, I hope that you remove — or better manage — the villains in your life, stock your utility belt with the right success tools, and surround yourself with lots of Robins.
Oh, and if you ever run into me carrying a turkey baster and a package of clay, you can bet your life I’m RECESSitating an organization before it needs to be resuscitated!