In one of his most famous books, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spoke of the Übermensch (translation: Superman. Literal translation: Overman).
The Overman, in Nietzsche’s description, was a man who had overcome himself psychologically.
Whereas comic hero Superman is far superior to others physically, Overman is far superior to others psychologically.
His mindset and values are his alone meaning the Overman has overcome his biggest friend and foe: himself.
Nietzsche believed we have evolved from apes to become a far superior species, both intellectually and creatively, therefore we are still growing and evolving.
Given that Nietzsche died in 1900 his idea of the Overman was based on the culture of that time and while human nature hasn’t changed in that time the external environment has.
What would today’s Overman look like? What skills would he possess in today’s politically correct digital age?
1. He is well travelled
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
Given the ease in which to travel today the Overman will have a firm grasp and understanding of global history, customs and cultures. He weaves this understanding into his communication when dealing with other people but, despite this, he can distance himself from any of them for he understands that they are merely social constructs.
2. Success is judged internally
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is to high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
The Overman seeks no validation from outside sources. It all comes from within. He can momentarily accept appreciation from other people and institutions but ultimately it is what he thinks about an outcome over anything else.
3. He will have dealt (or be dealing) with his inner demons
“You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.”
He understands that humans are all fatally flawed including himself and will continually wrestle his inner demons for he understands that the chaos can be tamed. The more he fights the more he wins but that is not to say the wins are not painful.
He will have accepted his own death, resentment, failure, rejection, hardship, defeat and does not fear any of them.
4. He will treat and respect his body as a finely tuned vessel carrying him through life
“Body am I entirely, and nothing else; and soul is only a word for something about the body.”
The body and the mind are connected. If you eat crappy food and don’t exercise the body will deteroiate. It will not receive the essential nutrients it requires to thrive. Bad genes will be expressed and the brain won’t create new neurons in order for the mind to learn and grow.
The Overman knows that, in order to be the best that he can be, he must eat the most nutrient dense foods which are supplemented with a varied exercise routine of lifting, sprinting and moving, and lots of adequate rest.
His body is his most prized possession. It will carrying him through this world and a strong body means a strong mindset and will.
5. He will have overcome his animalistic tendencies
“Man is the cruelest animal.”
He will make no apologies for his wants and needs as a male of the species, but whenever it benefits him to suppress his animalistic tendencies by allowing his rational brain to take control he can.
He can suppress emotions such as anger, frustration, lust and so on when he needs to but, equally, he can express them for his his own gain whenever the situation requires him to.
6. He will engage in play but it won’t be his purpose
“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”
Today’s world offers the Overman an abundance of hedonistic entertainment options. Bars, clubs, TV, video games, recreational drugs, internet porn, holidays, comfort food, cheap friends and cheaper girls.
The Overman will indulge in such pleasures from time to time for he realises that play and downtime is an important part of rest and recovery. Hedonism will not, however, be his sole goal in life for he has a greater purpose and mission.
7. He will possess material items but they will not possess him
“Necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation.”
He will own material items as a means to living in today’s civilised society but he will have no emotional attachment to them and will be willing to let go of them at any time. His most prized possessions are his mind, body and will.
His body stripped is all he came into this world and understands that ultimately it is all he owns.
8. He will seek truth in life
“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.”
No matter how painful or how much it goes against his general world view, the modern day Overman will seek the truth in all that he does. Despite the anguish it may cause him he ultimately knows that the truth will set him free.
The Overman will go beyond the narrative that is told in the mainstream media with the aim to discover his own truth.
9. He will seek solitude
“My presence doesn’t depend on the absence of people; on the contrary, I hate who steals my solitude without, in exchange, offering me true company.”
He will enjoy being alone. He will enjoy being with his thoughts, to let them run free for he has no regrets of the past nor fear of the future. His alone time will allow him space to reflect on the past, plan for the future and appreciate the present.
10. He will acquire wisdom through being a man of action
“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”
He will be a man of action. He understands that there is only so much knowledge and wisdom to be gleaned from literature and a true understanding comes from being and doing.
He will put himself in situations where he has an opportunity to learn through experience. Situations that are both difficult and demanding but where deep wisdom is acquired.