05/16/2012 02:49 EDT | Updated 07/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Is Your Child a Clark Kent or a Superman?



I have been writing a book called The Slackers Guide to Success, based on my work with struggling teens and young adults. What's most interesting about this is that if you asked any of my clients when they first started working with me what they thought of this title, they'd probably proudly wear the title of slacker. The people who know them best could easily see them being the poster-child for this label. The one person who would disagree with this title for these kids, would be the author of The Slacker's Guide to

These young people are actually highly driven, over-achieving people who simply haven't found the way to channel their energies into something good, so they choose to self-sabotage. And they do it in every aspect of their lives. That's way too much work for a slacker.

I'd like to ask you a question. I think it's an important question, maybe a little weird and I'm hoping that by the end of this blog you'll have a different answer then the one you started off with.

Is your child Clark Kent or Superman?

You know as superheroes go, Superman's unique. Batman's really Bruce Wayne, Spiderman's really Peter Parker, but Superman is Superman. His disguise is Clark Kent.

So from Lois Lane's perspective -- Superman is...well, super. Clark Kent is your teenager: unsure of himself, always late, tends to break stuff and uh, well, if a speeding bullet's coming at you, he's not gonna be faster than it.

The truth is we are all superheroes waiting to discover the special gift we were given to make our mark in the world. For some reason, what we start off with is often the exact opposite of our superpower: great speakers weren't always great talkers, leaders might not always have started initiatives, heroes might have acted like bullies. These opposites are our own form of Kryptonite.

We have to rise above our Kryptonite, that toxic piece we take from the soil we were formed from, and go towards the deeper powers we were given. The problem is that everyone seems to focus on the Kryptonite. Everyone responds to what is being shown. What the rest of the world sees, is often what these young adults see in themselves: Clark Kent and Kryptonite. The stuff that makes Superman weak.

What if our great powers came to us easily? Are skills that are hard fought-for more worthwhile? Do naturally gifted people have an easier time of it? I don't have the answer to that one. Pretty much everyone I know, from the highly gifted to the learning challenged, succeeds by fighting hard for what made them great. Then why bother with someone like me? Why bother with a coach, or a teacher or a mentor? Why would there be a need for anyone to guide you to your superpowers?

Because the world is not ready for Superman in everyday life. They can't handle it, so Superman ends up being Clark Kent.

Maybe when we believe in our amazing talents and let go of seeing the Kryptonite in our everyday life, the world will be ready for the Superman in us.

I guess what I see in my clients is what is see in regular life, that in each person there is a hero. Going on their hero's journey. Very often they're disguised, to protect themselves, as slackers, fumblers, failures, pranksters or bullies. Practically in danger every moment of their lives.

They hide their true powers. Powers they may not yet believe in. But here's the thing: you have a power as well. Each and every one of you, if you choose to, can help others let their powers shine.

How do you do that? How do we all do that? By seeing the Superman in Clark Kent and letting the Kryptonite slide.

How do you get to see the Superman in your child?

Let go of the things that are going "wrong." It won't help.

Find your child's strength and let them know why you believe in them.

Get them to ask themselves when they do something from their Kryptonite side, "If someone were to write a book about your life, is this something that you would want them to write about?"

Let them know you believe in them (it bears repeating).