Use Your Superpowers

April 11, 2009


Are you using your superpowers wisely?

You could be gifted with numbers, or words, or both. You could be a natural at building deep relationships with people or able to charm a roomful immediately. Maybe you have a talent for breaking a problem into its components to find a logical solution. I have a friend who can look at a machine and instantly visualize its inner workings in 3-D.

You have superpowers. Maybe you have more than one. If you’re lucky, you’ve found a place in the working world that uses those talents.

But it’s not enough to simply use them. A gift for quick mental math is useful because most people lack it. It helps the minimum-wage worker at the hot dog stand make change. But (combined with a few other talents) it’s also useful for negotiating mergers & acquisitions in the millions or billions of dollars.

I’m not dissing the idea of using your superpowers to serve customers hot dogs. With 13 years of bartending experience (which was vital to financing my college education and subsequent MBA) I can’t afford to cop an attitude. And I believe that all work is inherently noble and inherently ennobling.  I’m just pointing out that the guidance counselor at high school might have advised Spiderman that his skills were perfect for window washing.

As you assess your career from time to time, I suggest that you ask two questions:

  • Does my current role use my superpowers? If not, are you consciously making a choice to play against strength for a time to learn new skills or offset weaknesses?
  • Does your role use your superpowers for their highest and best purposes? If not, is this role a step towards a role that makes better use of those superpowers?

Photo courtesy of Dulce Pinzon


2 Responses to “Use Your Superpowers”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    Do you recommend a particular ‘superpower’ testing agency? Or, is that part of the process, discerning one’s superpowers on one’s own?

  2. rsomers Says:

    Great question, Rebecca – I wish I had a great answer as it’s taken me a long time and I still have a lot to learn. Tests (MMPI, Birkman, etc) have been helpful sometimes.

    But the best help has come from mentors and trusted peers, because they bring an outside perspective. It might not occur to Superman that his X-ray vision was in any way remarkable. Someone who worked with Supe could notice how handy that ability was over time and point out how it helped Superman stand out from his peers in the Justice League of America.

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