Uncovering Your Superpower

I stumbled upon my superpower in the workplace.  It was actually a humiliating experience and one that didn’t reveal itself as enlightening til much later.

Hindsight is pretty awesome and I wish I could have jumped the shame, guilt, disappointment and landed straight on the “ahh light bulb moment” but that is not how it unraveled.

I was working in an office environment part time with another colleague who worked a few days a week.  There was an inner office and a larger outer office.  My desk was in the outer office and my colleague floated between the two depending on the task at hand.

I was in a HR role as well as managing a few departments.  It was a busy, connected and lively job which I thrived in.  I needed to have lots of conversations, keep in touch with our staff as to how they were traveling, as well as ordering stock and dealing with suppliers.

One day my colleague changed their work days.  Out of the blue they began coming in on the days I wasn’t there.  When I asked why this was, the answer I received knocked me for 6.

They didn’t like me.

They couldn’t work amongst my chaos.

I was too loud and annoying.

I was hurt, as you can imagine.

My work style was so off putting that my colleague decided to avoid sharing the space with me.

So what did I do?  I tried to change. Wouldn’t you?  After being told that my style is annoying and others are avoiding me because of it, yes I thought I’d better work on my weaknesses and change things up.

I was loud, I sang along with the music that was piped over the PA, so I decided to be quiet.

I brainstormed and sought opinions. I got things out in the open so I could make assessments, so I tried to do it all in my head while not making a mess and interrupting others.

I made a mess of my desk, so I tried to minimise clutter.

After trying to ‘do better’, ‘be more quiet and less chaotic’ I realised something. This hampered my workflow and my decision making.  I began to second guess myself not wanting to keep offending people.

What I discovered later is that all the things that pissed off my co-worker were my superpowers.

I was very productive.

I was able to manage multiple projects at once.

I was connected and respected by those I managed.

I was good at my job.

I didn’t fit into his work style and when I tried, his work style didn’t fit me. 

Being small, staying quiet, only thinking in my head and not out loud, didn’t help me get the best results. Keeping a tidy desk, working solidly on one task to completion, not being available for conversation and connection due to a rigid schedule meant less opportunity for inspiration, and opportunities.

Having to try and conform to another’s style helped me discover my ease.  In a nutshell ‘trying to not be me’ helped me work out ‘me’. 

A superpower or strength is something that you can do with ease.  It allows you to work with less effort as the nature of the task is energising rather than soul destroying.

Understanding what didn’t work for me helped me realise the things that did, and those things actually came naturally.

The process of pissing off my colleague, trying to conform to their standard and finding it was unproductive for me helped me connect to what I do best.

I had a humiliating experience and months of trying to change what wasn’t broken to uncover my superpowers but you don’t have to follow the same path as me, there are easier ways to understand your strengths.

Tune in

I know it seems too simple, but the best things tend to be simple.

Begin to notice what comes naturally. What in your day feels easy?  What feels really hard?

What can you do with little effort and leaves you feeling energised or at least not drained.

Listen in

Others notice our superpowers before we do and will often complement us on them.  “You did an amazing job of bringing together all that complicated data and making it easy to understand.” “I like talking through issues with you because you get me.” “ Give that job to ( your name) because they are great at  (the thing).”  “ I wish I could write like you do. You express yourself so clearly”.

Really listen when people are speaking about the things you do well, they are uncovering your superpowers for you.

Lean In

When you get an inkling of what is working for you, or how you like to operate, ie your superpowers, lean into them.  As much as possible complete tasks your way.  Put your hand up for jobs that energise you.  Work out how to spend more time on your strengths.  Double down on them, delegate what doesn’t fit and notice how much more productive and happier you are.

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