Originally published June 20, 2016.

Yes, you heard that right, you too can be a superhero just like the beloved Superman. How you might ask? Well, we here at tbd* had the oportunity to sit down and talk with Evelien from Superheld and were able to unlock the secrets of becoming a superhero. 

Superheld is a Dutch program that aims to unleash your inner superhero through programs and workshops that help you focus on you and what you want from life. In the interview, Evelien shares with us her journey in becoming a superhero, the obstacles that distract people from reaching their full potential and more.  

What was the motivation for starting Superheld?

In short: We know how frustrating it is to not know who you are, what you want and what makes you tick.  

The long version: 3 years ago Justin Junier graduated as a psychologist but he couldn’t find a job. He tried everything to find one so he wouldn’t be unemployed anymore. At one point he realized that he had no idea what he wanted to do or achieve in his life and thought to himself: “A psychologist really should be able to figure out the answer to not knowing what you want.” Justin created a program for himself so he could discover what he wanted to do. When his program was finished he showed it to friends and they also wanted to follow the program. Justin realized that helping people discover their inner superhero is what he wanted to do.

At the end of 2012 I got fired from my first job after graduating as a social worker. My self-esteem was critically low, and I was concerned that nobody was ever going to hire me again. I didn’t even know what my skills were anymore. In 2013 I struggled a lot with these negative emotions until that summer, when I made the decision to not let these emotions guide me. I started doing all these things that I always wanted to do, but never had the time for. I learned more about myself and got back my confidence, but still had no idea what I wanted to do.

In the summer of 2014 I got in contact with Justin and Superheld. I was immediately hooked by the positive energy, the way of thinking and dealing with the situation of not knowing what you want. Superheld believes that it is important to first discover who you are, what you can do and what you want. After that you can start to look for jobs that suit your personality, needs and qualities. So that is what I did. What I learned was that I want to help people my age discover their value and how they can find a job that fits them. I also learned that I don’t want to have a boss anymore. So in the fall of 2014 I told Justin that I was going to help him with Superheld.

Superheld’s motto is “Everyone can be a superhero.” How do you help people unleash their inner superhero?

We have discovered three “easy” steps for unleashing your inner superhero.

  1. Know yourself; Discover who you are, what you want and what you can do.
  2. Surround yourself with inspiring people. Inspiration gives support, energy and positivity.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone. Like they always say, that is where the magic happens.

The program we built is based on these 3 steps. We call this program ‘Het Superhelden Avontuur’ (The Superhero Adventure). In 3 months, a group of 8 people embark on an adventure with one online training and 4 offline workshops to get to know themselves and the others better. The focus of the training and workshop is: discovering your unique superpower, qualities and core values, how to find awesome work that fits your superpower and celebrating successes.

The superheroes who participate in this program become part of a community in which they have support to share their experiences, ask for help and celebrate their successes with other heroes. We provide them with workshops and training sessions to work on their personal development on a deeper level with subjects like: setting a positive mindset, finding inner peace or starting your own project or venture.

What does a typical workshop look like and what are some of the key takeaways?

What we find important and what we implement in each workshop is that we want people to talk about their dreams, doubts and passion, and to do this with as many people as possible. This involves a lot of seat changing and inspiring questions like: What is the moment you were most proud of yourself? What would you do if money were not a problem? How do you want your days to be?

Another thing we also make sure is part of the workshops is writing down your thoughts and insights. Because we are human and humans tend to forget things, we make sure that there are enough moments to reflect on what they want take away from a specific exercise or this workshop.

After the workshops the participants are energized with positivity and focus. This is the biggest takeaway. The participants have the strength to face their doubts when they are positive and have a focus on what they want. What we also see is that the participants build strong and supportive relationships with each other and that with every workshop they learn something new about themselves because of the feedback someone else gives them.

What do you think prevents people from realizing their full purpose potential?

Fear is the biggest thing preventing people to realize their full potential, because it is a really terrifying thing to do. At least for me it was and still is. You have to keep focused on what you want and how you are going to achieve it. There will be people questioning why and what you are doing and telling you to just find a job. You have to be strong and courageous to pursue your full purpose potential.

For me this strength came from learning more about myself, and what I wanted to do in and with my life. I surrounded myself with inspiring people who I looked up to and who saw what was possible and weren’t afraid to pursue this. Most of these people are now close friends. With self-knowledge and a supportive network I had the confidence to take steps outside of my comfort zone and keep on learning about myself.

Every step I took was a slightly bigger step than the one before that. Every step was with a little bit more risk to pursue the path I saw for myself. Because I did not want, and still don’t, want to live my life in a state of being afraid of alive.

What are three pieces of advice would you give someone is who currently is struggling to find their path?

I only have one piece of advice: Go and do something! One thing. One thing at least once a week that gives you energy. This energy you will need to deal with the struggles of your journey. Make sure that you are doing something that you love to do. Don’t do it because it looks good on your resume. Do something that you love to do, because you love to do it.

At the time when I was struggling to discover my path I had a lot of free time and I decided to start doing all these things I always wanted to, but never had the time for. For example, I signed up to be a volunteer. For each person this one thing can be different. For my friend it is being part of a knitting group, for my sister it is going dancing every week and for another friend it is taking long walks every weekend.

Regularly doing something you love to do gives you positive energy and a self-esteem boost. You are maybe learning a new skill, meeting new people or just having fun, but the biggest achievement is that it makes you happy. You need this happy feeling to deal with the struggles you face in discovering your path, but it is also the best state of mind to meet new people. New people will remember your happiness and will be more eager to help you discover your path or look for jobs.

How has being an entrepreneur changed you?

I never ever imagined myself being an entrepreneur. But now, I value my freedom as an entrepreneur so much. I choose the people I work with, do tasks when I want to do them and work when I want. It suits me. Being an entrepreneur made me the person I want to be. I think this is the biggest change possible.

What has been your social impact so far? What’s next for Superheld?

So far we have helped more that 1000+ young professionals in the Netherlands with the online e-book and 100 of them followed the training to discover their inner superhero. We keep developing more trainings and workshops about personal development. At this moment we are also developing a training to help the young professionals who are doing a traineeships to find the place within the organization they fit best.

And one really exciting step in the journey of Superheld is that we have translated our  ‘Avontuur’ from Dutch to English. We started with our first non-Dutch group last April in France and are experimenting and learning how non-Dutch people respond to our program.

For the future we want to keep organizing ‘Het Avontuur’ in the Netherlands at least 4 times a year, grow from 1 to 5 groups and explore the possibilities and partners in taking our program internationally.

What makes you a changer?

I just recently discovered that I am a changer, because I believe that there is always a possibility and nothing is impossible. My life and journey are proof that you can become the person you want to be. And I will keep telling my story, because everybody deserves to be the person they want to be and be valued for this.

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