Your Superpowers Make Time Disappear
How do you know when you’re using your superpowers? Time disappears. No drugs necessary! Whenever I write a song, I seclude myself in my studio and emerge several hours later feeling content and spaced-out with a new tune that seems to have written itself. Time seems to vanish.
I close the door, pick up my guitar, and emerge several hours later feeling content and spaced out. I feel as though I am one with my guitar, my microphone, my voice…they all merge together to form a seamless blissful experience. As Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching said, “when I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Typically, I don’t know what I did during that time — it’s just a glorious waking dream — but I usually have a recorder handy to capture it for me. A pleasing side effect is that I often write enough coherent pieces of music to put a song together later.
But, at the time of creation, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not the tune is good because the process itself is so richly enjoyable. I lose myself in the most wonderful way, like a child. My conscious experience is that the music writes itself. It’s as if something bigger than me works through me as soon as I get my mind out of the way.
This isn’t true for everything I do, though. When I was a professor, writing research papers was full of fits and starts. I checked the clock every few minutes, impatient to finish. It was a requirement of my job, not my calling.
Remember Jane from our last blog? This burned-out corporate executive attempted to write because her father was a writer, but the words just wouldn’t come. After experimenting with different creative outlets to balance out her hectic workday, she eventually tried painting.
Time just disappeared whenever Jane worked at her easel. In fact, she often failed to notice the rumbling of her stomach and kept at it for hours in her attic. Thank goodness her husband kept her dinners warm for her. Jane discovered that painting was her superpower. Months after our class ended, she told me that she’d won an award for the portrait of him she’d shown us in class and she was kicking butt at work again. How perfect is that?
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with Diane Dreher, a good friend and ex-colleague from my academic days who earned her Ph.D. in Renaissance literature. When I described my songwriting process — how I “zone out” and lose all sense of time — she nodded. “Me too, when I read and write books.” Bingo! That’s why she’s a college professor and best-selling author and I ditched academics to become a rock star.
Diane told me, “I’ve loved books all my life. My father was in the Air Force so we moved all the time, every year or two. Just when I’d found my way around and made some friends, my father would get transferred.”
“So I found my inner compass in libraries—school libraries, base libraries, city libraries. Walking through the stacks, looking up at the walls of books, I’d discover new friends, new communities, and imagine that one day my books would be up there too.”
Diane is the author of three self-help books on Taoism, including her best-selling book The Tao of Inner Peace. Her most recent book, Your Personal Renaissance, is about finding your calling, discovering your own personal gifts and using them to live with greater joy and meaning.
Diane, it turns out, has more than one calling. She’s a true Renaissance woman with many talents and areas of knowledge. She’s also the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. So, it makes perfect sense that she would go on to get credentials in holistic health and spiritual counseling and a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Now she’s an English professor who doubles as a positive psychology coach and researcher on hope interventions. Yes, it’s possible to have an enjoyable day job and add another profession or two to it.
According to Diane, “My writing, teaching, and coaching are all connected–an affirmation that each of us has something valuable to offer, a treasure to share with the world.”
So what treasure(s) are you ready to share? Does it involve pursuing multiple careers? I know a banker who plays cello in an orchestra and a day spa owner who teaches fitness at night. Do you have more than one line of work?
If so, what would you call your career/career slash self? __________/__________
(For example, Diane is an English Professor / Positive Psychology Coach.)
Having two careers gives you an advantage that specialists don’t have. Wear it like a proud badge in the marketplace. Relish your hyphenated life.
You can also express your superpowers through a career/hobby. I was a professor by day and singer at night until I made the switch to music as a full-time career. Jane, the corporate executive, paints at night. Does this type of lifestyle resonate with you?
If so, what would you call your career/hobby slash self? __________/__________
(For example, Jane is a Corporate Executive / Painter.)
Research shows that having a passion project helps you solve work problems and perform your job more effectively. So, embrace your career/hobby self.
According to Forbes Magazine, many business owners are beginning to see the value in hiring employees who have side gigs that differ from their main vocations. These folks work hard, take the initiative, and use their diverse skills to problem solve at work.
Having a slash career provides greater work-life balance, makes you more desirable to employers and supplements your income. So, spruce up your résumé to reflect all that you are, and bring your whole self to work. It’s time to trust your superpowers and let them work for you.
Figuring out what makes time disappear for you is one of the best clues you’ll get for discovering your true gifts. For me, it’s playing music. Jane thought it would be writing, but painting made time vanish for her. Reading and writing put Diane into a flow state. What about you?
These activities really engage you and root you in the now. When nuclear physicist Bruce Banner transformed into the Hulk, he was rarely consciously aware of using his superpowers but he sure did a great job of smashing things up. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Diane actually hid her positive psychology coaching practice and hope research from her academic colleagues because these activities didn’t fit the definition of an English professor. In 2019, her past and present students nominated her for the Brutocao Award for teaching excellence at Santa Clara University. When her colleagues handed her the plaque, they lauded her for being “more than a teacher,” acknowledging her as a wise mentor who gives her students the tools and hope they need to secure a bright future.
When you pull your different gifts together as Diane does, a new power emerges that enables you to make your mark in this world and live with profound joy.
So, make it a priority to discover the activities that fully absorb your attention and then do more of them, whether it be through your hobbies, your career(s), or volunteer work. Using your superpowers puts you in the zone where you function at the peak of your abilities and become one with whatever you do. It’s a glorious way to live and work.