How to Distinguish Your Superpower

What’s so natural for you that you don’t even remark? Recognize and value that strength – it might not be so easy for everyone else.

“I want to evaluate my strengths and identify the best way to do business for me,” a potential customer told me on the phone.

Career progress doesn’t work that way, I told her.

“We want to play to your strengths in your work,” I said. “You’ve been around for 20-some years – I bet you already know what your powers are if you think about it.”

Take the time a beloved client once told me a long, complicated, scientific story about something that had happened at his work.

Buried within that story was a more interesting story: this humble, soft-spoken engineer was not afraid of conflict.

“You go towards conflict,” I said.

“I don’t have time for conflict,” he answered. “I need to understand what the problem is and fix it quickly.”

“You don’t even see it as conflict,” I said.

“I’m interested in other people’s views,” he said. “They can add to my understanding. I’m attempting to come up with the best resolution.”

“You don’t take conflict personally,” I said with surprise.

“Of course not,” he said.

“You know this is a superpower, right?” I asked. “You know that handling conflict, both upwards and between peers, isn’t this easy for most personalities? You don’t appreciate this power cause it’s so easy for you.”

I like using the word “superpower” when I’m training; I enjoy the dissonance with my pragmatic approach. I feel like I’ve struck gold when a client recognizes a superpower in themselves: an extraordinary force that is so easy for them that they don’t even notice it.

“If you don’t see and value this strength in yourself, how will you consider it in your direct reports as you progress in your career?” I asked him.

That got his concentration.

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