in Words of Wisdom

The Power is Yours! Lessons Learned from Captain Planet

Captain Planet | The Power is Yours!

When I was a kid – I lived for the simple pleasures: Cookies and milk, cheating at Duck Hunt, and waking up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. One of my fondest memories growing up was religiously watching a little show we all know an love called Captain Planet.

For those who may have missed the boat, the basic plot of Captain Planet was as follows: 5 teenagers wore special rings that granted them “the powers of the earth” – When they combined their powers they summoned “Earth’s greatest champion” - also known as Captain Planet. Captain P and the Planeteers would then embark on various adventures to rid the word of crime, pollution, and hate.

Most importantly, the show featured the voice of Lavar Burton, of Star Trek and Reading Rainbow Fame (and who doesn’t love Reading Rainbow, right?)

So, my friends and I would sit around and watch this awesome-ness and then, of course, would reenact the episodes the rest of the day, usually finding something to break.

We all had our favorite characters – there was Kwame (Earth), Wheeler (Fire), Linka (Wind), Gi (Water), and finally Ma-Ti (Heart).

Some important things to note:

  • I was and always will be Wheeler. Why? Because blowing shit up and setting people on fire is awesome.
  • Ma-Ti, with the power of “Heart” (basically making bad guys see the error of their ways) was SUPER LAME. Imagine an 8 year old running around the backyard pointing at people and telling them to be nice. Yeah, definitely not as cool as pretending to set everyone on fire.

But looking back at us running around as kids, and thinking about the loyal Planeteers, I’m reminded of a valuable lesson.

The lesson? You can’t do everything on your own. There are times in your life when you have to put your “rings” together to summon Captain Planet.

We often forget about the power of community and collaboration. I preach the beauty of both often. Ma-Ti may have had a super-lame power, but he was the rock that held the Planeteers together. Without heart, the rest of the group would have been a bunch of anarchists setting fire to forests and tearing down cities with massive earthquakes. Ma-Ti brought the team together – something that is absolutely imperative in any endeavor.

Can you start a business on your own? Of course – but odds are, you are lacking in some areas and another person might be able to offer something that ensures maximum efficiency and profitability. The same can be said for a blog, a project, anything.

In this day and age, it’s important to be multi-talented, but even more important to be excellent at SOMETHING, rather than “ok” at a lot of things. If fire is your “it”, awesome! If your forte is wind, then be the best you can be at that one thing. Being the best at everything isn’t possible. The Planeteers understood that they each brought something valuable (not to mention cool) to the table – but that ultimately – together, they could truly be champions.

We each have a unique power. Ma-Ti may not have been as cool, but he understood his value to the greater good – you gotta’ have “heart”.

What ring are you wearing? What power is yours?

Add Your Voice

Comment

90 Comments

  1. Oh man, memories!

    First I’ll say I would be Gi, and would have the power of Water. I drink over 100 ounces of water per day. Drink it as soon as I wake up, drink it while lifting, drink it with my protein shakes, I drink it when I’m bored. I love swimming. I love water guns. I love going fishing on massive bodies of water. Water sports are fun as well. Water makes up what like 90% of the Earth? Even if that number is wrong, I think having water on my side would be a pretty sweet deal.

    I really do enjoy this post, Matt. I was going to jump in bed and see if I could sleep, but an itch inside of my brain made me type lifewithoutpants.com instead. Damn it.

    I’m starting a new job in December, and I will be the only employee. What waits for me is an exciting new title (Director of Business Development and Operations), a long commute, one co-worker (the owner), and a fairly large office building with hardly anyone in it. I’m nervous of taking on this gigantic task virtually by myself because I do believe in the power of team work, and the team that I’m going to actually does have an “I” in it and only an “I”. The owner of the company will surely help a good bit, but for the most part the show will be run by me. Hopefully the company grows, and I can hire a team help me battle my own form of pollution and crime.

    I’m reminded of another powerful teenage team. Leonardo could never have battled shredder alone. Shredder was far too powerful with his clan of ninjas. Thank god Leonardo had his three brothers, his father Splinter, and Casey Jones to back him up.

    “Matt Cheuvront he’s our hero, going to take pollution down to zero”

  2. Oh man, memories!

    First I’ll say I would be Gi, and would have the power of Water. I drink over 100 ounces of water per day. Drink it as soon as I wake up, drink it while lifting, drink it with my protein shakes, I drink it when I’m bored. I love swimming. I love water guns. I love going fishing on massive bodies of water. Water sports are fun as well. Water makes up what like 90% of the Earth? Even if that number is wrong, I think having water on my side would be a pretty sweet deal.

    I really do enjoy this post, Matt. I was going to jump in bed and see if I could sleep, but an itch inside of my brain made me type lifewithoutpants.com instead. Damn it.

    I’m starting a new job in December, and I will be the only employee. What waits for me is an exciting new title (Director of Business Development and Operations), a long commute, one co-worker (the owner), and a fairly large office building with hardly anyone in it. I’m nervous of taking on this gigantic task virtually by myself because I do believe in the power of team work, and the team that I’m going to actually does have an “I” in it and only an “I”. The owner of the company will surely help a good bit, but for the most part the show will be run by me. Hopefully the company grows, and I can hire a team help me battle my own form of pollution and crime.

    I’m reminded of another powerful teenage team. Leonardo could never have battled shredder alone. Shredder was far too powerful with his clan of ninjas. Thank god Leonardo had his three brothers, his father Splinter, and Casey Jones to back him up.

    “Matt Cheuvront he’s our hero, going to take pollution down to zero”

  3. Best line in this whole post: “Without heart, the rest of the group would have been a bunch of anarchists setting fire to forests and tearing down cities with massive earthquakes.”

    I was always partial to Linka. She could pick stuff up with wind and toss it around AND she was a total hipster into music. Even at a young age I knew that her logical and analytical approach to much of life was in reality how *I* approached life. And she was still cool. Proof positive to me that though I am tragically UNcool there may be hope yet. :)

    • Haha, I do remember her being the total hipster of the group (full disclosure I’ve been watching old episodes on Youtube to refresh my memory). One thing I can’t remember: Did they ever actually KILL the bad guys or did they just catch them and turn them over to the proper authorities?

  4. Best line in this whole post: “Without heart, the rest of the group would have been a bunch of anarchists setting fire to forests and tearing down cities with massive earthquakes.”

    I was always partial to Linka. She could pick stuff up with wind and toss it around AND she was a total hipster into music. Even at a young age I knew that her logical and analytical approach to much of life was in reality how *I* approached life. And she was still cool. Proof positive to me that though I am tragically UNcool there may be hope yet. :)

    • Haha, I do remember her being the total hipster of the group (full disclosure I’ve been watching old episodes on Youtube to refresh my memory). One thing I can’t remember: Did they ever actually KILL the bad guys or did they just catch them and turn them over to the proper authorities?

  5. I was totally all about Linka- she’s pretty kick ass (from what I remember). Great post, a strong community & collaboration are at the heart of any successful company or business.

    • Thanks Sheema – I was wondering how many people got past the picture of Captain Planet and jumped right down here to share a comment on their favorite Planeteer. There’s a meaning behind all this, even though it’s easy to dwell on the awesome-ness of this beloved show :)

  6. I was totally all about Linka- she’s pretty kick ass (from what I remember). Great post, a strong community & collaboration are at the heart of any successful company or business.

    • Thanks Sheema – I was wondering how many people got past the picture of Captain Planet and jumped right down here to share a comment on their favorite Planeteer. There’s a meaning behind all this, even though it’s easy to dwell on the awesome-ness of this beloved show :)

  7. Man! Why does nobody love Heart?! :)

    Great post!

    I love this part: In this day and age, it’s important to be multi-talented, but even more important to be excellent at SOMETHING, rather than “ok” at a lot of things.

    I think it’s super important to hone your skills and become a specialist in some area or another – then you can combine with people who are rockstars in other area and do some incredible work!

    PS- I think Ryan’s comment is my favorite…haha

    • Because, once again, heart was lame, especially as a child running around pretending to save the world. Telling people to be nice to each other? Come on Katie – SUPER lame! :)

      Being “A+” at ONE thing is better, in my opinion, than being a “B” across the board. When you spread yourself too thin you end up not being good at much of anything.

      PS – Ryan is ridiculous – he always spices up the discussion here.

  8. Man! Why does nobody love Heart?! :)

    Great post!

    I love this part: In this day and age, it’s important to be multi-talented, but even more important to be excellent at SOMETHING, rather than “ok” at a lot of things.

    I think it’s super important to hone your skills and become a specialist in some area or another – then you can combine with people who are rockstars in other area and do some incredible work!

    PS- I think Ryan’s comment is my favorite…haha

    • Because, once again, heart was lame, especially as a child running around pretending to save the world. Telling people to be nice to each other? Come on Katie – SUPER lame! :)

      Being “A+” at ONE thing is better, in my opinion, than being a “B” across the board. When you spread yourself too thin you end up not being good at much of anything.

      PS – Ryan is ridiculous – he always spices up the discussion here.

  9. Maybe I’m just a dork but Gi was the character that I always pretended to be. She was super smart and she saved dolphins!

    Definitely agree with the premise of the post and love the Captain Planet analogy :)

  10. Maybe I’m just a dork but Gi was the character that I always pretended to be. She was super smart and she saved dolphins!

    Definitely agree with the premise of the post and love the Captain Planet analogy :)

  11. I used to go around pretending my mood ring was my power ring. And of course I wanted to be everyone (I’ve always had a hard time making just one choice). Are we allowed to be Captain Planet? Because I wanted green hair too…

  12. I used to go around pretending my mood ring was my power ring. And of course I wanted to be everyone (I’ve always had a hard time making just one choice). Are we allowed to be Captain Planet? Because I wanted green hair too…

  13. Ok, first of all I was too busy playing Ninja Turtles when I was a kid to play Captain Planet. Needless to say, I was always April since I was the only girl who would play.

    (I was this weird hybrid kid between tomboy tree-climber-knee-scraper and play-dress-up-and-get-in-mom’s-makeup kind of kid, though that probably explains a lot about who I am now, ha.)

    ANYWAY. I know I already told you this, but I LOVE this post. I’ve been working on some projects lately thanks to some really fortunate freelance work and at first kind of freaked out about how I was going to accomplish everything. Then I realized how many people I know that can fill in the gaps and be awesome where I’m still learning. How much better we can all work together when we recognize that different people have different strengths.

    I told my now-boss in an interview for my current negotiating job I hold that I’m not a hardball negotiator. I’m a relationship-builder and a collaborator. Turns out, that’s still true.

    I LOVE this post. Love.

    • I LOVE that you LOVE this post Doniree!

      I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan. HUGE. How does one “play” April O’ Neal though? Were you just always the damsel in distress – waiting for the boys to come save you? Not a bad gig I guess.

      I worked in an agency environment before my current job for a year – VERY hard ball negotiation – which never is, and never will be, my personality. I am directly in line with your way of thinking – RELATIONSHIP building, RELATIONSHIP marketing – RELATIONSHIPS are the core foundation of any good business. My old company had lost site of that – they had worked hard to establish outstanding relationships and then started abusing them – burning bridges and pissing people off in the process. They may be doing well as we speak, but eventually, that kind of practice will come back to bite you in the ass.

      • Basically, I was just the only girl that would run around with the boys and “fight” the other classes. No damsel in distress here; I was on their team :)

        Responding to your email now, because that’s fun too.

  14. Ok, first of all I was too busy playing Ninja Turtles when I was a kid to play Captain Planet. Needless to say, I was always April since I was the only girl who would play.

    (I was this weird hybrid kid between tomboy tree-climber-knee-scraper and play-dress-up-and-get-in-mom’s-makeup kind of kid, though that probably explains a lot about who I am now, ha.)

    ANYWAY. I know I already told you this, but I LOVE this post. I’ve been working on some projects lately thanks to some really fortunate freelance work and at first kind of freaked out about how I was going to accomplish everything. Then I realized how many people I know that can fill in the gaps and be awesome where I’m still learning. How much better we can all work together when we recognize that different people have different strengths.

    I told my now-boss in an interview for my current negotiating job I hold that I’m not a hardball negotiator. I’m a relationship-builder and a collaborator. Turns out, that’s still true.

    I LOVE this post. Love.

    • I LOVE that you LOVE this post Doniree!

      I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan. HUGE. How does one “play” April O’ Neal though? Were you just always the damsel in distress – waiting for the boys to come save you? Not a bad gig I guess.

      I worked in an agency environment before my current job for a year – VERY hard ball negotiation – which never is, and never will be, my personality. I am directly in line with your way of thinking – RELATIONSHIP building, RELATIONSHIP marketing – RELATIONSHIPS are the core foundation of any good business. My old company had lost site of that – they had worked hard to establish outstanding relationships and then started abusing them – burning bridges and pissing people off in the process. They may be doing well as we speak, but eventually, that kind of practice will come back to bite you in the ass.

      • Basically, I was just the only girl that would run around with the boys and “fight” the other classes. No damsel in distress here; I was on their team :)

        Responding to your email now, because that’s fun too.

  15. I learned a very valuable lesson from Wheeler as a kid: if you’re being tied up by a bad guy, inhale and inflate your chest as they are doing it. That way, when you have the chance, you can deflate and the ropes will be loose.

    I’m convinced this will come in very handy at some point.

  16. I learned a very valuable lesson from Wheeler as a kid: if you’re being tied up by a bad guy, inhale and inflate your chest as they are doing it. That way, when you have the chance, you can deflate and the ropes will be loose.

    I’m convinced this will come in very handy at some point.

  17. Great idea for a post — Captain Planet was the best. I still find myself thinking of the theme song whenever I accomplish something awesome with a group of people (“when our powers combine…”). Most of the time I don’t tell them that’s what I’m thinking haha, but maybe now that I know there’s so much CP love out there, I’ll hum out loud!

    Also, I’m the youngest in my family and my sisters always made me play the stupid ‘Heart’ kid. But you know, he wasn’t so bad. He was pretty scrappy and had to work extra hard to keep up with all the big kids, just like me!, so I’ll always have a special place for him in my…ugh…yeah. Heart.

    • Haha, thanks Meredith. I’ll still side with “Heart” being pretty lame – but for the sake of argument, he was a necessary piece in the puzzle. There’s plenty of CP pride to go around – don’t hesitate to hum it loudly!

  18. Great idea for a post — Captain Planet was the best. I still find myself thinking of the theme song whenever I accomplish something awesome with a group of people (“when our powers combine…”). Most of the time I don’t tell them that’s what I’m thinking haha, but maybe now that I know there’s so much CP love out there, I’ll hum out loud!

    Also, I’m the youngest in my family and my sisters always made me play the stupid ‘Heart’ kid. But you know, he wasn’t so bad. He was pretty scrappy and had to work extra hard to keep up with all the big kids, just like me!, so I’ll always have a special place for him in my…ugh…yeah. Heart.

    • Haha, thanks Meredith. I’ll still side with “Heart” being pretty lame – but for the sake of argument, he was a necessary piece in the puzzle. There’s plenty of CP pride to go around – don’t hesitate to hum it loudly!

  19. Awesome post! Thanks for bringing back those childhood memories. I have to admit, I did think Ma-Ti had the lamest ring EVER! But I was a kid; what kid didn’t think the same?. I have to agree with Rich. I have to say, I would be Gi, with the water ring. Especially since water is my birth sign and everything that has to do with it I love. Beaches, jet skiing, you name it!. Once again, amazing post. Thanks, now I’ll be reminiscing all day about this. Oh, and another thing…..”THE POWER IS YOURSSSSS!” HA.

  20. Awesome post! Thanks for bringing back those childhood memories. I have to admit, I did think Ma-Ti had the lamest ring EVER! But I was a kid; what kid didn’t think the same?. I have to agree with Rich. I have to say, I would be Gi, with the water ring. Especially since water is my birth sign and everything that has to do with it I love. Beaches, jet skiing, you name it!. Once again, amazing post. Thanks, now I’ll be reminiscing all day about this. Oh, and another thing…..”THE POWER IS YOURSSSSS!” HA.

  21. But Ma-Ti could communicate with animals… how is that not a rad sandwich with extra bacon? Granted, not quite as cool as fire, but still.

  22. But Ma-Ti could communicate with animals… how is that not a rad sandwich with extra bacon? Granted, not quite as cool as fire, but still.

  23. Annnnd flashback to my childhood.

    Excellent connection here, seriously. I always hope to answer questions like this with something along the lines of “writing stuff that other people relate to in a big way,” but I often wonder if that’s too vague.

    I’m also quite excellent at baking brownies. So.. there’s that.

    • Thanks Nicole! It’s funny where inspiration comes from sometimes, eh? Don’t ask me where I came up with this idea – I blacked out and an hour later, here it was (only a slight exaggeration). Efficient brownie-baking is a helluva power if you ask me.

  24. Annnnd flashback to my childhood.

    Excellent connection here, seriously. I always hope to answer questions like this with something along the lines of “writing stuff that other people relate to in a big way,” but I often wonder if that’s too vague.

    I’m also quite excellent at baking brownies. So.. there’s that.

    • Thanks Nicole! It’s funny where inspiration comes from sometimes, eh? Don’t ask me where I came up with this idea – I blacked out and an hour later, here it was (only a slight exaggeration). Efficient brownie-baking is a helluva power if you ask me.

  25. Ah, childhood memories…

    Unfortunately, I’m not much of a hero. Maybe more of an anti-hero, really. You *are* talking to a guy who joined a Star Wars club and made his way to the rank of Dark Jedi Master. Now that my nerdy admission is out there, I’d have to say I relate most to the power of Water.

    Another disclosure: All of my astrological signs – common Zodiac, Chinese Zodiac, AND the Sidereal Zodiac – are all Water-aligned. I guess I’m a deep person.

    Rambling aside, you make some excellent points, Matt. I think the spirit of working together to achieve a common goal is important in almost every facet of life. However, I don’t believe that philosophy is necessarily espoused or adhered too, especially in America and similar individual-focused cultures. I’m not a fan of the uber-competitive, always-have-to-be-on-top types; but then again, I’m not a fan of the why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along Ma-Ti types. There needs to be a good balance somewhere along the line, where the group is commended, but individuals are recognized.

    • First question: What exactly IS a “Star Wars Club”? My imagination is going wild there.

      That aside, thanks for the comment here Jonathan. I agree with you 100% – you have to be able to balance collaboration and independence. You don’t want to rely too heavily on other people, but you also don’t shouldn’t place the burden solely on yourself.

  26. Ah, childhood memories…

    Unfortunately, I’m not much of a hero. Maybe more of an anti-hero, really. You *are* talking to a guy who joined a Star Wars club and made his way to the rank of Dark Jedi Master. Now that my nerdy admission is out there, I’d have to say I relate most to the power of Water.

    Another disclosure: All of my astrological signs – common Zodiac, Chinese Zodiac, AND the Sidereal Zodiac – are all Water-aligned. I guess I’m a deep person.

    Rambling aside, you make some excellent points, Matt. I think the spirit of working together to achieve a common goal is important in almost every facet of life. However, I don’t believe that philosophy is necessarily espoused or adhered too, especially in America and similar individual-focused cultures. I’m not a fan of the uber-competitive, always-have-to-be-on-top types; but then again, I’m not a fan of the why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along Ma-Ti types. There needs to be a good balance somewhere along the line, where the group is commended, but individuals are recognized.

    • First question: What exactly IS a “Star Wars Club”? My imagination is going wild there.

      That aside, thanks for the comment here Jonathan. I agree with you 100% – you have to be able to balance collaboration and independence. You don’t want to rely too heavily on other people, but you also don’t shouldn’t place the burden solely on yourself.

  27. Oh, memories! Captain Planet was such a great example of the power of teamwork. You’re right. We can’t always do things on our own, and it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, collaboration has some amazing benefits, in addition to sharing the workload. Friendship and learning opportunities are the first things that come to mind. I am going to have to disagree with you that “heart” was a lame power. Maybe for you boys haha, but seriously, heart is what gives the other powers wings. Think about the power of passion to drive us to succeed. That’s heart. Nice throwback post!

  28. Oh, memories! Captain Planet was such a great example of the power of teamwork. You’re right. We can’t always do things on our own, and it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, collaboration has some amazing benefits, in addition to sharing the workload. Friendship and learning opportunities are the first things that come to mind. I am going to have to disagree with you that “heart” was a lame power. Maybe for you boys haha, but seriously, heart is what gives the other powers wings. Think about the power of passion to drive us to succeed. That’s heart. Nice throwback post!

  29. “We’re the planeteers, you can be one too! Coz saving our planet is the thing to do!”
    I’m impressed on how you got to integrate Captain Planet in your post and life in general! This was awesome Matt.

  30. “We’re the planeteers, you can be one too! Coz saving our planet is the thing to do!”
    I’m impressed on how you got to integrate Captain Planet in your post and life in general! This was awesome Matt.

  31. Wait, you missed the episode where Ma-Ti blew up that guys heart? … ok that didn’t happen, and Wheeler was the man.

    I’m glad you skipped the logical “going green” connection and went straight for the part that matters. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people that are way smarter than me because it forces me to step-up my game. I’m held accountable (like Wheeler and not blowing the hell out of everything) for my focus and everybody else brings their perspective.

    • Haha, that must have been one of the uncut episodes on the DVD I missed out on :)

      Agreed that it’s important to surround ourself with varied “powers” – even a lame one like “Heart”. Thanks for the comment Scott!

  32. Wait, you missed the episode where Ma-Ti blew up that guys heart? … ok that didn’t happen, and Wheeler was the man.

    I’m glad you skipped the logical “going green” connection and went straight for the part that matters. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people that are way smarter than me because it forces me to step-up my game. I’m held accountable (like Wheeler and not blowing the hell out of everything) for my focus and everybody else brings their perspective.

    • Haha, that must have been one of the uncut episodes on the DVD I missed out on :)

      Agreed that it’s important to surround ourself with varied “powers” – even a lame one like “Heart”. Thanks for the comment Scott!