How to Discover Your Superpowers

A lot of people have been asking me, “What exactly is a superpower?” It’s time I gave you an answer.

So, over the past couple months I’ve talked a lot about developing your superpowers, but I never explained how to figure out what your superpowers are in the first place. The best way for me to do this is to start by asking you a few questions.

What do people come to you for?

The thing that people approach you about the most is a superpower. People love coming to you for this thing because they know you will do an amazing job. The most important aspect, though, is that you enjoy helping people with this thing.

Career superpowers are actions that come easily to you, are fun and can do them for hours on end. As you build your career, you probably will become more in tune with what your superpowers are. If you don’t, you will miss out on the opportunity to create leverage.

Your superpowers depend on three factors:

> Passion

> Focus

> Strengths

3-circles-superpowers-strengths-whn

Without all of these factors you will have a missing power to leverage your success.

I had a friend who was an amazing writer. I floundered in college while he excelled.

My friend could write about submarines, water polo, and weather patterns and make each paper fascinating. The only problem was that he didn’t care. He had great skill and focus, but no passion.

After he completed each article he experienced no excitement and no happiness. He just moved on to the next thing on his list.

I consider writing to be a superpower of mine now because it fell into all three areas. I had the passion, focus, and strength to make my writing interesting.

I’m going to compare two skills that I have (writing and editing) and explain why one is a superpower and one is just a skill.

Passion

The intrinsic motivation behind your actions is passion. If you find yourself constantly forcing yourself to take action, then this isn’t passion.

I love to write and the process comes easily. I actually need to write in order to get the thoughts out instead of spinning around my head. It’s a therapeutic action that became a daily habit.

On the other hand, I have difficulty editing because by that point the creation process is already over for me. I want to move on to the next idea.

You’ve probably noticed how certain work won’t motivate you for very long. You may be passionate about it for a few hours or days, but eventually the energy wanes and you’re back to doing things that bring you happiness.

Focus

The amount of time you can spend focusing on a project will determine how much you get accomplished. If you can’t stay focused for very long, you’ll never develop the skill to be successful.

I can write for many hours a day. This allows me to write articles for my site as well as many guest posts. I rarely feel like I can’t write. There are always fresh angles that I can tap into if I do some research, meditation or take a walk.

I can edit for many hours, but it doesn’t make me feel energized. I do it because it’s a part of my job.

Strengths

Each skill that you have must produce quality results, otherwise it’s not a strength.

For example, almost anyone can write. In order for it to be considered a strength it must be something that other people notice because your skill stands out.

I write to change the world. That’s exactly how I look at it. I’m good at it and I expect to produce great results.

Editing is not a skill that I’ve mastered yet, so it’s tough for me to consider this a strength. It’s more like an ability that I’m trying to mold into a superpower.

Review

So how do you find your superpowers? You have to figure out if the action in question meets all the criteria: passion, focus, and strength.

Editing Writing
Passion No Yes
Focused Yes Yes
Strength No Yes
Not a Superpower Superpower

Your passions come from your subconscious, your focus is all about your ability to stay in the present moment, and your strengths are determined by the results you produce and the way others perceive those results.

If you don’t have all three when performing an action…

> Passion

> Focus

> Strength

…then you aren’t creating great results and feeling happy while doing it.

You’re just passing the time doing work that you aren’t really connected with.

This is why I started my Superpower Coaching sessions. People came to me for advice because I could see through the fog to help them develop a clear picture. I couldn’t avoid this superpower, so I decided to leverage it.

You must learn to leverage your career superpowers or you will be missing out on major success.

What are you doing to leverage your superpowers in your business/career?

* Join the Work Happy Now Facebook Page and interact with other people who are trying to improve their superpowers.

* Turning fear into Fuel is the entrepreneur’s secret to success. We all are scared and procrastinate, but the ones that use this fear to make themselves smarter, stronger and happier are the ones that win. Check out Jonathan Field’s post right here. He and Chris Guillebeau give two excellent talks on fear.

If you enjoyed this post then you will probably like these too:

> How to Harness Your Superpowers

> My Arch Nemesis Dr. Oatzel Almost Stole My Superpowers

Comments

  1. I can feel in my heart that I’m a writer but oftentimes I lack the passion to fuel my creativity. Still, I have not abandoned my writing because it’s a channel for me to express myself. :-)

  2. Hi Karl,

    I like your approach to figuring out whether your strengths and talents are “superpowers” . I’m curious as to whether you see strengths as a learned skill or an innate ability that, with some focus and training (or regular practice), consistently produces good results. As you correctly point out, though, a strength doesn’t develop into a superpower if you don’t experience any joy or passion when engaged in the activity. I’m equally good at editing and writing and pretty much equally passionate about both, but I sometimes find that the “editor” mindset can have krytonite-like effects on the creative/writing process…. :-{

  3. Karl,
    Your diagram and explanation is very clear. I just finished watching Chris’Ted talk and am going to watch the next one later. I appreciate researching these videos and sharing them with us. You rock!

  4. Hi Karl

    I really love how you broke down what passion entails vs forcing oneself to do something.

    And yes, it was a great idea to describe the superpowers. I just love the whole sound of it – makes one want to take action and develop theirs. After all, super heros are exciting :)

  5. Karl: This was a great post. Thanks so much for the great information. I really liked what you said about the 3 factors and how you really broke things down in order to determine your superpower. Now that I read this, I understand that it is so true that all three of these factors have to work together in order to have a superpower. It makes perfect sense and we can ask ourselves these 3 questions anytime we have a doubt about whether something or not is a super power. Thanks again for sharing all of your insights. This was a really great post.

  6. Simple yet convincing. well presented. Perhaps these factors determine why an individual fails & other one with the same skill excells.

  7. Good distillation and distinctions.

    An important key in life is finding how to blend your passion and power with profit … for a sustainable lifestyle, and living a life of strengths. When people chase money, they miss their passion or power … and when they chase passion and power, and ignore the profit, they end up with a hobby. The effective pattern is giving your best where you have your best to give … where the market values it (which can be as simple as bending or blending what or how you target your super powers.)

  8. Can You Take Me Step By Step In How To Have Super Powers ?

  9. Great article! I appreciate all the thought that went into breaking this down for us.

    So here’s a question:

    What if I know exactly what my super power is but there’s so much to do and so many great things out there to use that superpower on that its hard to keep up with it all? O dream big and work hard and am good at what I do but I get halfway through a semester (I teach at a university) and I feel like I can’t keep up with it all and I’m burning out?

    Love your site btw…I just found it and its great!

  10. Very interesting post. Good information and the image is really perfect to summarize the whole article. Passion, Focus and Strength are really what’s needed to succeed in every field.
    Have a nice day!

  11. Hi Walter, I know the feeling. I’ve read your stuff and you seem to have a lot of passion in your writing. Your feelings may be intertwined with fear. I’m not sure about this since I’ve never talked with you, but using this fear to fuel your writing can be a great motivator.

  12. Hi Sue, Strengths can be a learned or innate ability. I believe that 90% of most people superpowers are learned. Of course they have to have a talent for the activity. I’ll go one step farther and say superpowers are 100% learned. There is no way someone can possess a ton of skill without a lot of passion and focus to get to that sweet spot.

    As for writer vs editor mindset that’s a tough one. Two different parts of the brain. I would suggest creating a trigger mechanism that allows you to channel one skill vs the other. Try having two hats, two pairs of glasses, or two tea mugs – each one will signal when you are in which mode. The hope is if you are wearing your writer’s hat you won’t be tempted to switch to editing mode. This will take some getting used to, but it’s helped me.

  13. Hi Tess, Loved the TED talks too. Something about watching a great talk that inspire me to take action.

  14. Hi Evita, That’s the hope. I think talking about strengths is boring. We have powers to change the world. Look at Steve Pavlina, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs. Their superpowers are off the charts.

  15. Hi Sibyl, I’m glad you liked the style of the post. It might not seem like it, but it took a while to configure what exactly a superpower was. After much deliberation this post came out.

    I just think too many put emphasis on strengths in the workplace when passion and focus is just as important. We need to look at the whole picture to optimize people’s talents.

  16. Hi Basant, I find that using simple language is the best way to communicate a point. Too many people try to fancy up an idea and end up looking dumb. I agree with your point. Failure usually happens when we aren’t clear about how to reach our goals.

  17. Hi Karl,

    Great ideas! I’ll work on getting that editor’s cap! ;-) Mind you, I also like the idea of two different tea mugs….

Trackbacks

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