Superhero Moxie

Apr 09, 2021


Superheroes have a costume, special ability, and moral code. But, they are nothing without moxie. What if leaders “tried on” more moxie?

As a leadership coach, I challenge my clients to try on different words, like tenacity and commitment, giving them a new perspective. I’m adding another word to my list: moxie. What would it be like to wear moxie? Superheroes know! Superheroes don energy, determination, and know-how-- the classic definition of moxie. They have other notable qualities like an unmistakable costume, a special ability, an unfortunate weakness, and, of course, a moral code. Who is your favorite superhero? Mine is Superman. He fits, if not establishes, the superhero mold.

In the movie Man of Steel (2013), Lois Lane asks, “What’s the “S” stand for?” Superman replies, “It’s not an “S”. On my world it means hope.”1

The “S” emblazoned on his chest unquestionably belongs to Superman as does the red cape that flows behind him when he leaps tall buildings in a single bound. He’s fast, has x-ray vision, and is almost impervious to defeat. Superman does have one weakness, well maybe, two: Kryptonite and Lois Lane. He once described his moral code by saying, “I believe in truth. I’m also a big fan of justice.”2 In addition to these qualities, Superheroes also exude a lot of moxie.

Here are the three components of moxie:3

  1. Energy, Pep: The capacity, yes, the capacity of being active and vigorously exerting power. If that weren’t enough, add “brisk energy or initiative and high spirits.” Super leaders are in motion with high expectations and positive attitudes.
  2. Courage, Determination: The mental strength to persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty; the act of deciding or having fixed intention to achieve a desired end. Super leaders don’t avoid challenge they thrive in and through challenge.
  3. Know-how: Defined best with few synonyms: chops, experience, expertise, proficiency, savvy, and skills (usually applied to disasters or in response to villains). Super leaders address issues, solve problems, and remove obstacles.

My favorite Superman was played by the late Christopher Reeve. I must have watched Superman: The Movie (1978) a hundred times with my childhood bestie, Susan, and that theme song still plays as my ring tone. The man whose character turned back time by flying around the earth and who, in real life, flew solo across the Atlantic—twice, was paralyzed from the neck down in an equestrian accident, in 1995.4 Though initially fearing he would burden his family, he became a champion for cures and treatments for paralysis.5 In 2005, Reeve told Barbara Walters, “I can accept anything, except for, complacency.”6 

“I get pretty impatient when people are able-bodied but are somehow paralyzed for other reasons, and I'm going, 'Come on, come on, go for it.' … It took being in a chair to realize that. And so my recommendation is don't break your neck to find out that you need to fulfill your potential.”

– Christopher Reeve, 20057

Superheroes, and super leaders, have the capacity and initiative to withstand fear and difficulty while applying expertise to problems based on a defining moral code. How would your leadership improve if you tried on a little superhero moxie?

Sources1 YouTube: What does the S Mean? (0m 30s); 2 Man of Steel (2013); 3 Merriam-Webster: Moxie; 4 Wikipedia: Christopher Reeve; 5 Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation; 6, 7 ABC News: Barbara Walters' Last Interview with Christopher Reeve.

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

Visit a Synergy Group and discuss the transformative Leadership Development and
Spiritual Growth presented in the Leader's Field Guide. Synergy Group Members
can access this week's Synergy Group Agenda in My Gym Bag.


Light-Hearted Wisdom for Serious Business


50% Complete