I came across an interesting term called “Superman Syndrome”. [Picture Courtesy: frazer4eos] If you try to google the term, you will be surprised by the lack of single concrete definition. You may find many books with title containing this word, but not a single definition. But each definition essentially contains a similar idea which imply:
“the concept of a supernatural ability, desire, drive to outdo and to overcome.”
It is not a positive term but rather connotes a negative meaning implying the exhibitionist attitude of a person busy in showing off and satisfying other people’s desires eventually working so hard that the person looses important things in life.
"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." --John Lennon
I looked back and realized that many times in the past I have done one of the following:
1) Insisted on paying entire bill for friends at coffee shops
2) Bought cloths just because others think they look good on me
3) Purchased those expensive high-end cellphones when I went with friends, just to show-off
4) Purchases lot of junk items just ahead of guests coming, since this may impress them
These are all behaviors of “Superman Syndrome", which essentially made me do things that are not based on prudent and realistic decisions but an attempt to satisfy other people's expectations and desires. But I was still fortunate that I did not spent large amount of money on buying house or that expensive four-wheeler just because I can impress friends, but many do.
If you have done any of these or are still doing it, then you need to be extra careful and really need to think about why you are spending money on satisfying what other's value?
I have heard of many people complaining about busy lives, late night conference calls, 24X7 email/phone connectivity and hard life with this new information age. The entire idea is that "control of you life will come from within you", so getting out of superman syndrome is most important task you will do for yourself and your family.
Robert Kamm writes in his book "The Superman Syndrome: Why the Information Age Threatens Your Future and What You Can Do About It,"
"the Superman Syndrome is a dangerous workplace success formula that forces men and women to leap tall buildings and outrun speeding bullets -- at the expense of personal lives, families, children and even business productivity. This represents a major hypocrisy implicit in nearly every boardroom in America: The belief that we should be accountable to work but not to our families."
Whether you spend money or your personal time or energy to satisfy what other people value most is surely a suicidal tendency towards life. If you are trapped in superman syndrome, take some concrete steps and hard actions to come out:
Actions to save your precious time which can be spent with family
1) Keep in mind that you do not need to answer that every email
2) 24X7 connectivity does not imply getting addicted to emails and social networking
3) Work in an "interrupt mode" rather than "polling mode" with information high-way.
4) Keep aside minimum non-negotiable 4-5 hours of quality time everyday with your family, friends and kids
5) Celebrate a "no-gadget" day every week or at-least every two weeks.
Actions to save your hard-earned money
1) Keep in mind that you do not need to pay the bill every time you go out with friends
2) Limit yourself to spending not more than say 1000 Rs for impressing others, rest all purchases should be your value based.
3) Promise yourself to take that shopping list before going out for shopping and sticking to it.
4) Find other activities with friends that leads to least buying (e.g. jogging in park, going to library etc)
5) If your friends expect you to buy things for you, get new friends
6) Share "Superman Syndrome" and its effects with friends and family, spread the word and awareness
You will get, what you genuinely want. It is never too late or too early to ask for good life.