Bruce Wayne and I were sitting having iced tea. Okay, it wasn’t the real Bruce Wayne, but it was close enough. I was in the process of asking Bruce for advice, because, if you knew Bruce Wayne, you would ask him for advice too. For the record, the iced tea was real iced tea. Brewed, even. Not a mix.
Bruce and I had shared a few stories. I told him how I’d saved 20 odd men by stopping an explosion in the nick of time using my calm, cool and collected command while others were paralyzed by the shock of the unfolding events. He countered by telling me how he had (using only his briefcase, his martial arts training, and his quick wits) subdued two armed bandits that were up to no good in a dark alley at night. I countered with the time that I saved the Earth from falling into the Sun using my super-strength to stop the UFO people from . . . oh, wait, only the first two things are true . . . .
See, I told you I knew Bruce Wayne.
With. A. Briefcase.
(I’m betting it was a Batcase he devised in his secret Batcave.)
Our topics which led (more or less directly) into restarting this site, ranged fairly far and wide. And then I made my mistake.
“Well, Bruce, I’m certainly going to lose some weight.”
A smile. “Really. As you know, John, I just lost a few pounds.”
This part is true. How
Batman Bruce could be in even more optimum weight was beyond me, but, yes, he had lost some weight. I saw him before and after.
“And, John, I had a friend that I reported to weekly. In fact, I sent him a report card weekly. You can send me a weekly report card, if you want.”
Not a command. An offer. That was somehow worse. It was up to me. Not some outside entity. Me. If I never sent him a report card, Bruce might have forgotten (but Batman never forgets), and I would have carried on, same as before.
That meeting happened on a Monday. On Tuesday, I hit the gym with renewed vigor. The sweat poured down my body, and in the course of a two minute montage of me training, I mastered karate, boxing, and lost 35 pounds.
I did work harder. And began to get serious, perhaps even a bit fanatical about my diet and exercise program (there will be much more on this in future posts). At the end of the week I’d have to tell Bruce how I’d done.
I realized that Bruce had made this offer to help me. And, even though I’d hit the gym for 756 hours the previous year, I’d gained five pounds. I realized that this was indeed the spark. The Mrs. could not hold me accountable. Nor The Boy or Pugsley.
Nor could my Grandma have been the person.
Oh, Johnny, but you tried so hard. Want some more cake?
So, I’ve now been reporting to Bruce for several weeks, and have exceeded goals most of them. Why would this work when all of the previous years of sweat not work?
There is an accountability that comes from having someone review your report card. The Roman philosopher, Seneca said (about 2000 years ago):
“We can remove most sins if we have a witness standing by as we are about to go wrong. The soul should have someone it can respect, by whose example it can make its inner sanctum more inviolable. Happy is the person who can improve others, not only when present, but even when in their thoughts.”
And would you want to disappoint Batman?