Are you a social detective?

Are you a social detective? Do you know how to use your superflexible powers for good?

Do you have any idea what I am talking about?

I didn’t either until my daughter Lali got invited to join a new program at her elementary school called The Superflex Superhero Training Academy (Social Smarts). The program teaches self-awareness, self-monitoring, self-control and social problem-solving. Through my lens, it’s leadership development for eight-year-olds! I smiled broadly realizing that Lali was about to learn the kid version of the work I do with adult leaders. Then I found myself wondering what I’d be like if I learned social smarts when I was eight.

Can you think of a few leaders around you who could use some social smarts?

  • Leaders who’d be more effective if they were more aware of their surroundings and the people in it?
  • Leaders who’d be more present if they tuned with their own and others’ thoughts and feelings?
  • Leaders who’d be more resourceful, influential and impactful if they looked a little deeper into the “why” behind their social behaviours?

Many of you know that we teach leaders “social smarts” by using The Leadership Circle Profile 360 and conscious leadership practices. The kid version is admittedly more fun! They start with a comic book story: Superflex Takes on Rock Brain and the Team of Unthinkables.  The story follows Aidan and his dog Bark as they get challenged by different characters in Social Town. Together, they learn that everyone has superflexible thinking powers and can become Superflex.

Superflex is present when Aidan/we are “above the line”. When we are superflexible, we are able to tune in to people’s wants and needs to help keep ourselves and others calm while also getting our turn “to play and speak”.

When Aidan/we slip “below the line”, which happens often, The Unthinkables appear! Let’s meet some of them:

The Unthinkables as drawn by Lali!
The Unthinkables, as drawn by Lali!

Firstly there is Rock Brain. He’s the opposite of flexible. This guy wants to do only what he wants to do. He tries one solution over and over, even though it is not working. He’s rule-bound and rigid.

Un-Wonderer doesn’t show interest in others. She doesn’t ask many questions about others and doesn’t add her ideas either.

Grump Grumpaniny thinks the worst and that people are unkind. He sees everything as negative. He’s blind to how his emotions spread and make others feel unhappy.

D.O.F. The Destroyer of Fun is very competitive. She insists on going first and playing only what she wants to play. She doesn’t compromise or sense how others feel when she dominates.

Worry Wall feels nervous about the people around him or the situation; when he is scared, he “hits a wall” which stops his ability to talk to people nearby or think clearly.

Other characters are Brain Eater, Body Snatcher, Space Invader, Glassman, Topic Twistmeister, WasFunnyOnce, Energy Hare-y, One-Sided Sid, and Mean Jean!  Perhaps you can have some fun figuring out what these characters get up to when they take over?

Lately, my own brain has been hijacked by some Unthinkables. Rock Brain, Grump Grumpaniny, Destroyer of Fun and Worry Wall have practically formed a committee in my brain and they are overstaying their welcome! I know they are there. And when I notice them (or someone else notices them for me and points them out…oh the “gift” of feedback…), I can sometimes shift back to being superflexible in that moment. And sometimes I cannot. And increasingly, I can have some compassion for myself and recognize I am feeling threatened somehow.

And this, my friends, IS the work. We all benefit when we get better at spotting where we are, accepting ourselves for being there and making an effort to shift IF we are willing.

Here’s the sequence:

  1. Where are you? Are you in the land of Superflex (above the line) or the Unthinkables (below the line)?
  2. Can you accept yourself for being where you are in this now moment? Maybe you are just scared and if you welcomed that in, you could make friends with your fear.
  3. Are you willing to shift? You may want to desperately but not be willing. And that is ok. You can learn about yourself and behave more like a leader even while some Unthinkables are taking up residence in your (rock) brain☺.
  4. And if you are actually willing to change the game, how will you shift?

And can you smile and be grateful?  Whatever is going on IS PERFECT for your learning, even if your life isn’t!

For the grown up version of Social Smarts, check out Where It Changes! Conscious Leadership Forum. Wouldn’t it be fun to create some Unthinkables and Thinkables for leaders as part of our journey? We have some spots left for this September. Reach out if you’d like to chat about joining us.


  1. Corinne Gregory on April 17, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Hi Lisa, glad that you are promoting the value of social thinking. Just one little issue: “SocialSmarts” is a registered trademark of my company, The PoliteChild. Having another program out there referring to it as such is copyright/trademark infringement. I’d be really pleased if people are using OUR proven program, but you can understand why we would be protective of our mark.

  2. Sharon on April 17, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    I am so happy that this curriculum is being taught to young children. My sisters called me “Miss Perfect” so I am thinking that I was the Destroyer of Fun. Great read!

  3. Angelo Pesce on April 17, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    I love the way you connected the kid story to leadership.Well done. I enjoyed reading this article

    • Lisa on September 27, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Hey Angelo- For a while I wasn’t getting notifications and missed several of your comments. I apologize.

  4. Julie Connolly on May 23, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    I am amazed at how socially aware & accepting, of each others differences, children are these days. They have a much better understanding of this concept than we did as children. In fact, it was unheard of & we, as adults, are only NOW learning to utilize these tools.

    Bravo to the education system for promoting self-awareness & to you too Lisa for so eloquently interpreting this for us grown ups!

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