I met Stanley Coggins on a sunny July day in Portland, Oregon. I didn’t notice him at first; he hugged the back wall of the meeting space like he was trying to become part of it. Knowing Stanley now, having gotten to know him over the past months, I’m not surprised. “Wallflower” is definitely a part of his character, and one that he still struggles to overcome.
Even when our instructor, Gary Hirsch, called attention to Stanley and the other characters that inhabited the walls of the meeting space—and asked for each of us who wanted to co-create something to choose one—Stanley was overshadowed by the larger-than-life, full-color painted characters… he hung back, among the crowd of his line-drawn peers, and waited.
I think he must have waited the way he (and many of us; that less-athletically-inclined many) waited to be picked for a team in gym class. Except in this case, he might not have been picked at all, for there were fewer participants in our co-creating workshop than there were “persons of art” on the walls. Which meant Stanley—buttoned-up-tight, fat-tie-wearing, briefcase-wielding Stanley—might be passed over entirely, and literally left hanging…
But I recognized Stanley immediately. I saw in his attire and his closed demeanor and the heavy weight of the giant gear on his head… something that resonated with me. A sense of potential, but a potential bottled up and trapped inside by that giant gear—that cog—that held his dreams inside his head, and kept them from springing to life.
My first thoughts upon seeing him were images, colors of orange and red and yellow and blue. Bright hues and strong primary colors, not the stark black and white in which Stanley was now rendered. And the first words that came to me about Stanley were “There’s a transformation in your future.”
And so, based on that promise of a transformation, I chose Stanley, and decided that he and I would tell the story of his transformation together.
Stanley’s given name came a few weeks later. And his surname Coggins not long after—an obvious, but appropriate, play on the cog that is the center of his current businessman persona, and the manifestation of gravity that prevents him from breaking free and becoming his true heroic self.
But it was in a text from my dear friend James that Stanley’s true persona, his heroic identity, came to life. I’d seen images of that hero in the flashes of color that heralded that transformation I’d spoken of that first day. But it was James’ simple text about how I should get started articulating Stanley’s self, and how his journey might coincide with the journey of this blog, that brought everything together.
I don’t remember the question I posed or the doubt I expressed, but James’ answer was “Imperfect action, man.” Reminding me of the lesson from another part of the same World Domination Summit.
And as my mind was processing those same three words, laughing, his next text came through: “Imperfect Action Man! That’s it!”
And so it was. Imperfect Action Man was born.
Imperfect Action Man’s Hero Symbol
Stanley’s transformation from corporate cog to heroic taker of action, and his adventures as fledgling hero Imperfect Action Man, will be chronicled over the coming months here on the Free of Gravity blog, as well as in the upcoming Free of Gravity Hero’s Manifesto.
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