Don’t Forget Your Cape

Summary Written by Erin Gordon
"So this is a rejection of mediocrity, and an invitation to excellence. Don’t be afraid to be powerful beyond all measure. … Don’t forget your cape. Be a superhero. And deliver on the promise of who you could become"

- Don’t Forget Your Cape, pages 12-13

The Big Idea

Dust off your cape

"Too many people have lost their capes. Over time, they’ve lost their inner belief and conviction that they too, can be superheroes."- Don’t Forget Your Cape, page 9

Superheroes, much like preschoolers, believe in themselves and their abilities, doing the right thing, standing up for others and demonstrate an unbelievably high (sometimes frustratingly high if you are the parent) level of confidence. As adults, we enter the world of business and lose some of this confidence (even though our skills, knowledge and abilities far exceeds what they were as a preschooler) and feel trapped by organizational barriers that sometimes make it difficult to do the right thing and accomplish great things. Regaining some belief in ourselves and our abilities is critical to achieving greatness and making a difference in our own lives and the lives of those we impact. Although it is a simple concept to get your head around, the emotional implications are huge. I recently read the summary of The Confidence Code and was struck by how aligned the concept of donning a cape and having a growth mindset is. This innocent mindset without the baggage of how society expects you to behave allows us to view situations as adventures and opportunities for learning rather than opportunities for failures.

Insight #1

There is extraordinary value in asking “why”

"Ask Stupid Questions. They Rock"- Don’t Forget Your Cape, page 50

I absolutely love this directive. How many times have you sat in a meeting wanting to challenge a key assumption, but did not because you might feel embarrassed? The assumption appeared so entrenched in the business; it would be stupid to question it. It is by asking these types of questions that we will begin to look at situations differently and drive innovation by challenging the way things are done. As MacPhie suggests, three year olds do not ask “why” just once. They ask it multiple times and keep asking it to try and understand why things are the way they are. In more adult terms, these deep probing questions and searches for the root causes of a problem can be enlightening and lead to new product development and breakthrough ideas. According to a recent Conference Board of Canada study, Canada ranks a dismal 13 out of 16 peer countries on innovation. When faced with these statistics, asking a stupid question does not seem quite as silly.

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Insight #2

Take a Breath

"The big difference between the psychology of a two-year old and the psychology of a member of your team is that the two-year old is simply less subtle at hiding his or her true feelings."- Don’t Forget Your Cape, page 87

It’s true. Think of the last time you were in a meeting and someone made a negative comment about a member of your team. It felt awful. You may even have become defensive. It made me laugh out loud to picture a VP handling the attack on his or her team like a toddler and leaning over to the offender and biting him or her on the arm as MacPhie hypothesized. MacPhie encourages us to acknowledge our irritation, but talk about the situation directly and respectively and take a pass on any passive-aggressive approaches. Remind ourselves that we are all part of the team for a reason and success relies on us working well together.

Overall, this book intertwines the way we live our lives and the work we do. It is about having a choice and choosing to make the most out of every day. MacPhie leaves the reader with a compelling analogy towards the end of his book: The Grasshopper and the Ant. Old school philosophy would have us believe that “grasshoppers” just want to have a good time and live in the moment, and “ants” work very hard preparing only for the future. Like MacPhie, I do not think this is an either or scenario. Superheroes and preschoolers have both. So should the rest of us.

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Hugh D. Macphie

Hugh leads MacPhie with the same passion and energy he brings to his clients and keynote speeches. An extremely gifted facilitator, Hugh understands people, and what motivates them. It is this high level of EQ, combined with years of experience, that earns him the trust of senior leaders.

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