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Heroes Love Failure

by Derek LeBlond

Version 2 - Create Date: 2022-05-31, Last Update: 2022-08-26

It is tough to be Captain Proactive. Always resourceful. Always figuring it out. Always saving the day. Then, when it's your turn for help… queue the tumbleweeds. No help. No resources. No recognition. Maybe some advice on things you already tried. Maybe some small pat on the back for the encouragement to try again.

Do you constantly save your team, company, or more only to get no recognition? If there is no threat to life, law, or limb:

Let. It. Fail.

Can't get help before things go wrong? I am here to tell you if there is no threat to life, law, or limb:

Let. It. Fail.

Humans are a funny lot. Our tendency towards optimism bias drives behaviors to be more reactive than proactive. Consequently, Cassandra Syndrome grabs hold should you proactively warn about needs or risks. Cassandra, of Greek myth, was given the curse to tell true prophecies and no one would believe her.

Your proactivity probably leads to resourceful solutions; and anxiety as you constantly focus on the future; and then burnout as you solve all the problems all the time before they happen. Worse, you probably don't even get recognition for all the problems you prevent. In everyone else's mind they never happened.

Being this forward thinking makes you a hero. But did you ever think about how heroes in our comics really operate?

Ever see Superman at the town council meeting for better building codes? No? Superman only shows up when the building burns and collapses.

Batman doesn't use his infinite wealth to better finance things proven to prevent crime, like educational access. He fights crime one mugger at a time.

Spiderman profits off his own activity with the photographs he sells to J. Jonah Jameson. No payments to clean all his webbing. And, Spiderman makes infrequent use of a journalistic platform to shine a light on systemic corruption and abuses.

We call them heroes because they save us when things go wrong, not because they prevent problems. Proactive problem prevention carries less excitement, glory, and spectacle.

So, take a cue from our comic book heroes. If you can recover and there is no risk to life, law, or limb, let that thing fail. It will get everyone's attention. Then, show up when things go wrong. They can watch you work or help. If no one decides to do anything, you have also learned a lesson: it was probably not that important, so don't worry about it. Otherwise, you will be seen as the hero you truly are.


Minutes to Read


Flesch Reading Ease


Difficult to read.