Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is your superpower?

Did I mention I have a superpower? (#71) by j / f / photos
Did I mention I have a superpower? (#71),
a photo by 
j / f / photos on Flickr.
"What would you want as your superpower?" the preteen asked his dad on the way home from a sporting event.  "Hmmm..." his dad, replied.  "I'll have to think about that....I think I would like to be able to fly.  Yeah.  That would be cool."

"My superpower would be the ability to steal other people's superpowers,"  the son countered.  "OK then, maybe my superpower should be the ability to block other people from stealing my superpower," the dad said.  Game. Set.  Match.  Dad wins - and they both get a laugh out of the deal.

That verbal joust, done entirely for fun to pass the time in the car, does raise the question, though. "What is your superpower?"  Or perhaps it would be better stated, "What has the potential to be your superpower if you chose to develop it?"

An inordinate amount of focus (in the workplace and outside it) is placed on fixing shortcomings - the opposite of the superpowers.  How many people could Superman have saved if he focused all of his attention on Kryptonite, the one substance that weakened him?  Instead, Superman's focus was on hearing and seeing trouble, and responding.  Wow.  Talk about an assortment of superpowers in one package!  Super strength, super speed, the ability to fly, AND the ability to see through walls and hear acutely.  Now if had only been able to develop a method for changing into his super suit without needing a phone booth...but we digress...

You are already pretty good to downright awesome at doing the thing or things that has the potential to be your superpower.  You probably also enjoy doing it, because you know you do it well.  It might already be creating some positive buzz for you.  What could happen if you were to amp it up a little bit more by developing it more fully?

David Herdlinger, a longtime coach colleague and friend, asserts that you have the opportunity to move your skills up two points on a scale of ten through a process of intentional, focused development.  If you engage in a coaching process or other developmental program and are already at a level of 7 in your potential superpower, you could become a 9 according to Herdy's assertion.  That's close to world class!  If you were able to accomplish that, would would it do for you?

If you are among the skeptics that believe that flaw-fixing is the only path to improvement, let's apply Herdlinger's assertion to you.  If your Kryptonite, your non-strength -  is a 3 on the ten-scale, an improvement of 2 points will only put you at a 5 when you're all done.  Even if we don't account for the stress likely to be associated with fighting yourself, your opportunity to be a 5 isn't likely to attract fans.  That's middle of the road, and middle of the road won't sell comic books.

In case modesty is holding you back, consider this.  Many spiritual traditions present the view that stewardship of resources is God's work.  How effective is the stewardship you are giving to your talents and potential superpowers if you are not developing them to their fullest?  Are you truly honoring your gifts?

For today, make a point to take notice of your current and potential superpowers.  At the very least, noticing your strengths should add to your confidence and your optimism.  And beyond that, you may discover new opportunities for growth that you had not considered before.


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