OK, this is one of those life-coaching posts, yadda yadda yadda…but it also has Batman in it! (so hang in there!)
Long story short: if you want to be a success, you need to understand what your “story” is. Where do you come from, where are you going, who are you, and how would that all play out in a theoretical movie about your life?
And who is writing this “movie”? Are you writing it? Or have you abdicated that task to others (who may or may not have your best intentions at heart)?
And what in the bloody heck does this all have to do with Batman, of all people?
Bill Finger was the creator of core aspects of the Batman mythos. You might not have heard of Finger…though the name Bob Kane might be much more familiar. As the prevailing narrative goes, Kane was the creator of Batman.
But actually, if you do the research (and the book Bill The Boy Wonder by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton lays the case out so literally even a child could understand), you find out that without Finger, the Batman that we know now could not have existed. That’s how much Finger contributed to the creation of Batman.
But the point of this post is not to argue who was the rightful “creator” of Batman. Instead, I would like to reiterate the concept of Owning Your Own Personal Narrative.
Batman has a “mythos”…but you might be surprised to find out that so do you. You have a mythos, a mythology, a personal narrative…and what you do with it determines a whole hell of a lot about your life.
For example, what if your mythos is: “I’m a loser, nothing ever seems to go my way”? That’s the mythology you present to the world, that’s the mythology you carry within yourself, and that’s probably going to be the personal narrative you will carry to your grave.
Now: that particular mythos might have been foisted upon you by others when you were growing up. But it is still your responsibility to change—and own—that personal narrative.
On the flipside, your personal narrative can be about somebody who defies the popular convention and triumphantly succeeds despite overwhelming odds. So you carry that story like a shield with you throughout your life, giving yourself courage and confidence…and pretty soon others identify you with that narrative. And even if you become a big success, you might still choose to use this “Cinderella Story” as your mythos throughout your career.
What Bob Kane did was immediately seize on the narrative that he was the sole creator of Batman. And everything thing PR-wise he did until the day he died (including the design of his tombstone) reflected that consistent narrative. And that was a narrative that he decided did not include his partner Bill Finger.
Kane was just a “wide-eyed cartoonist who stumbled upon what would become one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.”
Public figures and celebrities do this all the time. The simple “nerd” from the suburbs who becomes a tech billionaire. The former drug addict who makes a triumphant comeback. The girl plucked from the church choir who performs a concert in a football stadium. These are all compelling stories. We “buy” not only what these people do…but their stories as well.
And this might be shocking to you, but: personal narratives, sometimes, can be “fudged.”
Again we return to the Batman case. Bob Kane did indeed help “create” Batman. But he is hardly the sole creator. And yet, that is the myth that’s survived.
In contrast to Kane, Finger was, by all accounts, a rather humble person who didn’t like to loudly “toot his own horn.” And so, really, it was up to somebody like Kane to include him in a narrative, in a mythos, about the creation of Batman. But that just didn’t happen.
What is your personal narrative? Is it positive or negative? Do you feel that you are in control of that narrative…and if not, could you be?
What is your mythos? How does your mythos and career work together (if at all)?
These are crucial questions that you need to answer in order to succeed and go where you need to go.
If you don’t have answers to these questions…stop everything and figure it all out!!!
(And don’t let somebody else define your narrative.)