Who Watches the Watchmen?

Posted on March 13, 2009



I went to the highly anticipated Watchmen on opening weekend. It’s very unlike your typical ‘superhero’ movie. Regardless if you liked the movie, it did bring up interesting (& controversial) ideas in regards to creative leadership. No, I am not going to talk about wearing spandex or having cool gadgets. But, I do want to discuss the important role of criticisms in our lives. I believe there is a symbiotic relationship between criticism and creative leadership. The ‘heroes’ of Watchmen lead in very unorthodox and impractical ways. They are extreme characters in an extreme time. They realize that only creative solutions will solve the destructive dilemma of their world. However, regardless of motive or actions, they become scrutinized, outlawed, and eventually hunted. Why? The status quo majority did not like extreme solutions nor did they like being ‘out of control’. In general, people want safe and easily understood leaders. They want leaders that are just slight exaggerated forms of themselves- but not too extreme. They want a leader that fits in a nice little box, cleans up after themselves, and plays well with others. In Watchmen, even though the heroes were normal humans, they were nothing like those that they protected. They had near obsessive convictions, passions, and resolve to do ‘what is right’ no matter the cost. The result: loneliness. The characters of Watchmen were lonely and desperate. I’m sure that they thought that being a hero meant popularity and loved by the masses- what they got was more like infamy.


Creative leadership means you may be the hero AND villain of your story.  Everyone loves the Creative Leader willing to take courageous steps, create new art, and to lead where no one else can. But it isn’t too long before criticism and judgment follows. As you and your leadership grows so does the target on your back. That’s actually a good thing. That means you are doing exactly what you are suppose to be doing- shaking up the comatose majority. The Watchmen heroes aren’t just cops and firemen, they are revolutionaries willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. I’m of course not advocating criminal activity, but I am calling you to a heroic fearlessness in this chaotic world. Creative leaders may never get the thanks they deserve. Jesus never did- except from the one that really mattered.

As a creative leader, what have you done lately to garnish criticism? Has it been a while- or at all? If you are living to your potential, prepare yourself for criticism. Get used to it, live in it, and thrive in it. That means you are being something that no one else is willing to be- a hero.

Also posted on: http://spin.willowcreek.com/c/blogs/arts_blog/archive/2009/3/13/who-watches-the-watchmen.aspx