What’s Your Superpower?

My name is Jim Kwik and I have a superpower. It isn’t something I was born with. Like many superheroes, mine started with an accident. And even then, it took years for me to fully understand and develop my power. Now I’m here to help you unlock your own superpower.

As the creator of Kwik Learning’s brain training programs, I’m known for my memory and ability to read quickly. These aren’t skills that came naturally to me. As I mentioned, I gained my superpower from an accident. And no, it wasn’t from a radioactive bookworm bite, but rather a head injury when I was five years old.

This didn’t give me super-powered reading abilities, but the exact opposite. I struggled to keep up with my classmates, which made me feel like I never fit in. I found refuge in my favorite comic books, learning to read by studying the words and pictures of Spider-Man, Batman, The Avengers and The Fantastic Four. But my favorite was always The X-Men. Not because they were the strongest, but because, like me, they struggled for being different.

I happened to grow up in Westchester, New York, the renowned location of the X-Men school. At 7 years old, I spent hours on my bike every weekend trying to find it, imagining having their mutant powers in the real world. What would it be like? Having laser focus like Cyclops? Controlling emotional weather like Storm? Having the vitality and healing strength of Wolverine? Or could read people like Professor X? These thoughts churned in my imagination, fueling my pedals forward.

But I never found the school — at least, not for a few more decades.

As the years went on, my academic struggles continued. When I made it to college, I vowed to start fresh. I would focus, really focus, to ensure I did better and make my family proud. But instead of improving, I did worse… a lot worse.

Just as I was ready to give up, a friend invited me to clear my mind by spending the weekend with him and his family. As we got settled, his father took me for a walk on their property.

“How is school?” he asked.

Instead of smiling and saying it was fine, I broke down and told him the truth. I wasn’t smart enough and I couldn’t work any harder. I was considering quitting.

“Why are you going to school? What would you like to eventually be, do, and have?”

I had no response.

He insisted I think about it, further encouraging me to write them down as I began listing some of my dreams. It was my very first bucket list.

When I finished, he read my goals one by one. It felt like an eternity. But finally he looked directly at me, placed his two index fingers just 10 inches apart.

“Jim,” he said. “You are this close to everything on this list.”

Before I could tell him he was crazy, he moved his fingers to each side of my head. “This close,” he repeated. “Your brain controls everything in your life. It’s the key.”

He then took me back into his home, into a room unlike any I’d ever seen before. Every wall was covered in books. He started handing me titles, filling my arms with biographies of history’s leaders and early personal growth classics.

With every book added, my panic grew. “I can’t read these books. I just told you I’m overloaded with schoolwork.”

“Don’t let school get in the way of your education,” he replied with a smile. I later learned this was a Mark Twain quote, but at the moment, he was my own Professor X.

He reread my goals list to me, and I agreed to read one book a week.

I returned to school determined to succeed, knowing this was my last chance. But it wasn’t motivation I was clinging to: it was desperation.

Desperate energy can feel a lot like renewed vigor. Not only did I have a new pile of reading that I refused to fail at, I still had my schoolwork to complete. Midterms were coming up and I had twice the workload. I became so focused on studying and reading, that I hardly ate or slept. But desperation can only take you so far, and one morning, I passed out, falling down a flight of stairs in the library.

I thought I had died.

Two days later, I woke up in a hospital bed. 30 pounds underweight, I was weak, dehydrated, and hooked up to countless wires and tubes. Lying in that bed, it was a cup of tea that changed my life. Or rather, it was a mug with Albert Einstein adorned on the side. Beneath his photo was his famous quote: “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”

The words hit me like the giant, green fists of the Hulk, waking up an entirely different part of me. I realized I wasn’t incapable of learning, I was simply a slow learner. Unfortunately, there aren’t classes in school teaching you how to learn, only what to learn. But that didn’t mean the information wasn’t out there.

Once recovered, I spent a month reading everything I could on brain science, adult learning theory, multiple intelligence, and memory. It was like a light-switch flipped. Suddenly, I could focus and remember so well I started tutoring other students.

One of my first students was a young woman determined to read 30 books in 30 days. Her mother was dying of cancer and had been given 60 days to live. This woman was desperately reading health books to try and save her mother’s life. Six months later, that same woman called me. Her mother had beat the cancer, and she credited it to the knowledge she received in those 30 days.

I realized in that moment — if knowledge is power, then learning is a superpower.

There’s a reason the world loves superheroes. They give us hope while inspiring us to step into a greater version of ourselves. They’re role models, showing us how to stand tall, deal with adversity, find meaning in loss, develop the ability to serve others, and turn our struggles into strengths. They show us, in no uncertain terms, that one person CAN make a difference, no matter the odds.

That’s why I want to help you find the superhero in you.

10 Superhero Keys to Success:

  1. Know Your Superpowers.

Superheroes are committed to lifelong learning. They know their strengths and abilities. By constantly testing their talents and expanding their knowledge, they discover new ways to use their powers. Because they know the next challenge, or villain, is never too far away.

2. Create a Superhero Team.

Superheroes build strong networks of people they can trust and who compensate for their weaknesses. Successful people are rarely ‘self-made.’ Every achiever has help along the way — from friends, family, peers, customers, mentors and other superheroes.

3. Maintain a Super Attitude.

Superheroes are known for their determination and positive leadership. They guard against negative thoughts and people. No matter how bad things get, successful people always have hope. They remain optimistic and work towards a better future.

4. Have an Aspiring Vision.

Superheroes have a clear and compelling idea of what the future will look like. They know what they want and why they want it. Even if they don’t know exactly how to get there, they let their goals and values guide their actions and behaviors — not the other way around.

5. Take Action.

Superheroes don’t wait for stuff to happen; they make stuff happen. Procrastination is the Kryptonite to progress. Pablo Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Successful people act consistently and intelligently, creating an almost unstoppable momentum towards their goals.

6. Get Feedback.

Feedback is the breakfast of superheroes. Successful people use their senses and smarts to learn what action is working and not working. Only by measuring your results can you manage and change them in the future.

7. Be Accountable.

Superheroes rarely blame others for their circumstances. As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben infamously said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” When successful people screw up, they admit their mistakes and fix them; accepting responsibility for their actions and the situation.

8. Be Mindful.

Superheroes live in the present because if they’re not at the top of their game, they put lives at stake. Successful people don’t ruin a good today by thinking about a bad yesterday. This also means they’re not distracted by useless pursuits. They know what’s important and prioritize accordingly.

9. Have High Standards.

What’s the difference between thermometers and thermostats? Thermometers react to and are influenced by the environment, while thermostats set standards that the environment adapts to. Superheroes are thermostats. They have high standards for what’s most important to them — their bodies, careers, relationships — and refuse to settle for anything less.

10. Make a Difference.

Just as superheroes use their powers for good in both small and large ways, successful people contribute beyond themselves. Successful people think “we” not “me.” They know to give more value than they receive in everyday situations. They do well by doing good.

July of 2017 my journey came full circle, taking me to the offices of 20th Century Fox. As I walked through the halls to the boardroom, I was surrounded by amazing movie posters: Star Wars, Alien, Titanic, Avatar. I felt like I was 7 years old again and I took that childlike energy into my training. It was one of the best I’ve ever done.

Afterwards, the chairman of Fox Studios took me around the sets where I saw a movie poster for the upcoming film The Wolverine. I told him I couldn’t wait to see it. 10 minutes later, I was sitting in Fox’s movie theater with a pair of 3D glasses.

When I finished, the chairman asked me what I thought. I told him it was fantastic, my enthusiasm as a huge X-Men fan coming through and I couldn’t help but tell him how I used to ride my bike around as a child, looking for the X-Men school.

“I didn’t know you liked superheroes,” he replied. “Do you want to go to Comic-Con?”

The next morning, I boarded a plane, stunned to find myself surrounded by the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Not only did I spend an incredible day with them at Comic-Con, I then spent the next week on their movie set. I shared brain tips with the cast and crew on how to speed-read scripts and memorize lines, and I got to watch these real-life superheroes bring my childhood dreams to life.

When I arrived home, a photo was waiting for me. Attached was a note saying, “Thank you for sharing your superpowers with us. Here’s your class photo.”

I’d finally found the X-Men school.

When I was a kid, my dream was to live in a world of superheroes. And that dream came true. I’m not surrounded by invincible mutants who can teleport, run at the speed of sound, or shoot lasers from their eyes. But I see superheroes everyday, and you can be one too.

So what’s your superpower? Let’s find out by mastering your brain.

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Jim Kwik

Jim Kwik is the brain trainer to top performers, executives, & celebrities. KwikBrain is designed to help busy people learn anything in a fraction of the time.