Seven Ways to Find Your Superpowers
After teaching creativity and self-actualization workshops for 20 years, I can tell you with certainty that you were born with a creative gift that no one else in the world can express like you. Your innate skills and passions are your superpowers. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop these intrinsic talents and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star.
But when you’re forced to conform to someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove. You’re either unaware of your individual aptitudes or you hold yourself back to play it safe. Either way, you’re out of sync with your true nature, which leaves you feeling hollow, frustrated, and disempowered.
It’s your birthright to boogie to your own distinct drummer. When you lose your original groove you pretty much lose the reason for being here. Maybe you were meant to sway to a Grateful Dead kind of beat. Or perhaps you came into this world ready to bop to pop, jazz, country, or reggae rhythms.
But what if the world you’re plunked into puts up a hand and says, “Sorry pal, you’re only allowed to waltz here”? Well, then you waltz. But only half-heartedly. And not like you mean it. That’s how life often plays out.
The sad truth is, most of us are not leading authentic lives. We lost our way before we were even old enough to know we were getting off-track. We became slowly “adulterated.” We learned to:
- Take on family roles that don’t match who we really are
- Spit back what teachers taught us in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original
- Hide parts of ourselves that don’t seem acceptable to our social groups
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some socialization is necessary for us to grow up into good citizens. But the price for fitting in is that many of us wind up leading lives that don’t fit us all that well. Deep down inside we think something is wrong with us, but what’s really “wrong” is the lives that we’re leading.
According to Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, “If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” This wreaks all kinds of havoc with your relationships, career, finances, health, and well-being. That’s why you’re reading this blog right now.
You are so much more than the labels people try to pin on you. When you reclaim your unique passions and talents, you become powerful beyond measure. I left a successful career as a psychology professor to follow my dream to be a rock star. But I came into my full power when I combined the scientist and artist in me to teach creativity workshops to help people find their true gifts.
I discovered that blending teaching psychology with performing songs made me a powerhouse at helping people blast through their blocks. Something new came forth, a third power, a sweet spot I didn’t know I had. I call it the “Synergy Effect.”
What exactly does that mean? According to Aristotle, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The Synergy Effect happens when you mix chocolate and peanut butter and get a whole new flavor. Or when you finally assemble those IKEA parts lying in disarray on your living room floor and create a bookshelf.
The same goes for people. Steve Jobs combined his passion for calligraphy and Zen Buddhism with his technical savvy and created an esthetic sense that still distinguishes Apple products today. Ray Charles created soul music by combining blues and gospel. Beto Perez developed the new exercise craze Zumba Fitness by blending his passions for salsa and aerobics. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen described this effect when he used to code by day and play his guitar at night which led to his breakthrough ideas. He said, “It forced me to look beyond what currently exists and express myself in a new way.”
This is true for YOU, too. You can begin to feel more empowered right now by answering these questions to discover your own superpowers and combine them into an identity that is uniquely your own.
E asy — What comes naturally to you that you may take for granted?
M oment — What puts you in the moment, time disappears when you do it?
P assion — What are you curious about, enlivened by?
O pinion — What do people ask you for advice about?
W eird — What makes you unique / stand out from others?
E arly — What were you drawn to as a child or young adult?
R ewarding — What would you do for free because it’s so intrinsically rewarding?
If you’re scratching your head about some of the answers, don’t worry. Just keep in mind that often the very qualities you view as your flaws are actually your greatest gifts. It takes guts to stand out in our cookie-cutter culture. Are you familiar with the Whac-A-Mole game at arcades? The object is to hit moles that randomly pop up and force them back down into their holes. In a similar way, we often hammer down our so-called “imperfections” to blend in and gain points with society.
But what makes you different makes you strong. Following the crowd kills your creativity and crushes the quality of your life.
Bronnie Ware (The Top Five Regrets of the Dying) found that the number ONE regret of the dying is that they wished they’d dared to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. They regretted not discovering their purpose sooner and following their dreams. Life is short. Don’t let this happen to you! Choose to be the hero of your own story.
At this point you may be thinking, “Isn’t it a bit melodramatic to call myself a ‘hero’? It’s not like I’d be saving the world here.” However, you’d be rescuing yourself from a life that’s not right for you, and I’d say that’s a pretty big deal. Even animals can be superheroes. Sheep turn grass into wool. That’s a superpower.
Trust me. You’ve got this. You’re closer to discovering your natural genius than you think. You just don’t know how to interpret the signs that are right in front of you. Whenever you go through a personal or professional crisis, feel “off” somehow, or long for a better life, you’re hearing the call to actualize your superpowers.
It beckons you away from the life you know all too well into the unknown where the rules are different. Once you set sail, the journey can be a little risky because you can’t see the next shore. But it’s precisely because you’re navigating uncharted waters that you can uncover hidden talents and find your own powerful voice in this world.
Discovering your genius may not lead to a career, or not right away, anyway. It could be something you enjoy doing as a hobby (e.g., playing sports or engaging in an artistic pursuit). It doesn’t mean that you can’t make big bucks down the road, but for now you need to be patient and let your talent develop on its own. Think of it as a way to add meaning and richness to your life.
Now, take a look back at your responses for questions 1 through 7 and note any statement you wrote down more than once. Do you see any repeating themes?
If you find an activity that comes easily to you, that you’d do for free because you feel so passionate about it, that friends ask you for advice about, that you loved to do as a child, that makes you stand out from others, and that you lose track of time doing, well then, THAT’S your superpower.
Whew, that was straightforward…
Or maybe it wasn’t that simple. That’s because you possess more than one superpower.
So, take note of any answers you thought of more than once. What are they? If you scribbled the same thing down two or three times, I’d consider them your superpowers. Try exploring one at a time. The question to ask yourself at this point is, which one sparks your interest the most right now.
Try playing with that superpower this week for the pure love of it rather than for external gain. That one small step will lead you toward a rich and fulfilling life down the road.
Excerpt from “Total Rock Star: A Creative Guide to Own Your Superpowers and Answer Your Awesome Calling.” Pre-order Michelle’s book