The other day I was on a fun podcast call with Meg Kissack. She's one of my fellow creative rebels and she's starting a podcast called Couragemakers, which means you should follow her and keep an eye out for the podcast because she really livens up things.
Anyway, we were chatting about my life story and the concept of creative rebels, and I think I said something about each one of us having a superpower that we could use to make our businesses and marketing unique, powerful, and AWESOME.
Kudos to her for asking me what my superpower was because it's been really hard for me to figure it out. I keep telling you to know your strengths and use them, and still, I get a brain freeze every time I try to concentrate on mine. The antidote, as it turns out, is talking casually with a friend or fellow creative rebel about it.
As soon as she asked, miraculously, I knew the answer:
My superpower is connecting to people through my writing because people keep telling me it resonates and makes them feel as though we're friends.
(If you want to know my writing secrets, I shared them in this post.)
That's a great superpower to have! Obviously it has to do with years of writing and honing my skills, as well as my natural style of connecting to people on a deeper level. It makes sense that those will translate into my writing and turn it into a magnet for people.
Now let's focus on YOUR superpowers and get to the very HEART of it all.
Your Unique Advantage.
Meg really liked my answer, and so did I. We talked about the StrengthsFinder tool next and shared our top 5 strengths on twitter. What you should know about this tool is that it's directly linked to a book called Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, and the premise is that you have 5 specific strengths (out of 34) that connect in unique ways, but you probably don't know them because you use them every day and take them for granted. It's true, I would've never said my strengths were empathy, strategic thinking, and learning because they're so obvious, they seem like normal things.
Yet, these "normal things" in your character are your Unique Advantages. They are what differentiates you from other bloggers and business owners out there, not your products or even your message. Your Unique Advantage is your personality.
It feels like everyone is looking for a unique advantage that will differentiate them from the competition, but they're all ignoring the obvious - YOU are that advantage. You and your superpower. Nobody will ever be able to copy or reproduce your personality and your purpose the way you express them, and that's your main advantage.
OK, but how can you find out what your superpower is?
- Ask a friend. Listen to compliments. See what resonates.
- Ask someone to interview you. (This one really opened my eyes.)
- Take personality tests or discover your archetypes.
Talk to people, ask them what you're good at, write about things you're passionate about and see what resonates and why. If that doesn't work, ask someone to interview you and tell them to ask personal and "big picture" questions. Finally, if you're a big fan of personality tests and matrixes, check out my favorites (under "The Core").
Just remember not to rush your discovery process; it takes time and patience.
Nature vs. Nurture.
This would have been a great drinking game at University. I studied Psychology and it seemed like this debate popped up in every lecture, whatever the subject. Basically, Nature is the genes you were born with and Nurture is what you were taught.
Both things imply a sort of helplessness and lack of choice, like things were given and taught to you, and you had no choice in what you were given. That's called "determinism" and the opposite is "free will". Well, free will and choice actually come after - when you have the cards in your hand, you have a choice in how you're going to play them.
As you were growing up, you were taught things, but then at some point you started learning things on your own. Same goes for the talents you naturally have. You have a choice in developing some and ignoring others. (It's never too late to start, but the sooner you start nurturing your natural talents, really, the better.)
I wanted to explain this so you'd understand the concept of "strengths".
When I say know and use your strengths, I mean that your "strength" is usually something given by Nature that you also Nurtured. Mike Buckingham's Strengths model supports this theory. You can't really be GREAT at something if it's not natural and if you didn't nurture it. A man who has the gift of music can't be a great musician if he never picked up an instrument, and a woman who doesn't have that gift, but tries her hardest to be a great musician, will never be able to reach those heights she aims for.
A superpower comes from Nature and Nurture. It's something that comes naturally and that you mastered with practice.
My superpower is a great example - I'm naturally good at connecting with people on a deeper level (empathy) and I learned to write because that was a great way for me to do it. So if you're wondering about your superpower, consider not only "skills" but also natural talents, and most importantly, how they translate into your skills.
Your secret superpowers.
After my conversation with Meg, I spent some time pondering my superpower. Thankfully, I have been using it to attract and engage my peeps, but something told me I wasn't done with this subject; there was more to discover - not on the surface, but deeper. Usually, this scares people, but I get excited when I get to go deeper in my psyche.
Just then my answer came in the form of a podcast episode of Make It Happen with guest Caroline Winegeart, who is a fellow creative rebel (you should check out her colorful abstract affirmations), and she said something that really stuck with me:
I asked everyone on Instagram, What's the one thing that you're most proud of about your personality but that you're most afraid to reveal to other people? That intersection is where your vulnerability and your brand can exist. [...] That intersection is where you're simultaneously most confident, but then where you also can most differentiate yourself.
Where you can most create connection.
Bingo! That's what connection is, that's how you make people relate and resonate with your message - by showing them they're not alone in whatever they're experiencing and that you're human before you're a business owner or blogger or whatever. We each have darker superpowers that don't necessarily inspire society approval, but that's the point where creative rebels shine - at the edge and out of our comfort zones.
It's a terrifying but also exhilarating way to live, and I highly recommend it.
My "dark" secrets.
In the spirit of sharing our secret superpowers, I give you two of mine:
- My first secret superpower is reading the Tarot cards. Every time I do it (and I don't follow any rules, I just do it my way, duh), people tell me I know things from their past and present they haven't told me. I think what happens is I enter some strange place of FLOW and tap into the knowledge of the Universe. Which is why it's kind of embarrassing to share, seeing as I'm a highly logical person.
- My second secret superpower is something that nobody in their right mind would view as such, except maybe someone who suffers from the same affliction. Basically, I have a condition called Bipolar Disorder Type 2, which is the mild version of the illness, and I have to take pills to curb the moods, but I call it a superpower because it allows me to have very clear moments of pure inspiration & confidence.
My mother would be HORRIFIED if she knew what I'd just shared with you, but I would be a hypocrite if I didn't. See, I've been putting transparency and sharing your journey on a pedestal and admiring all the people who do it daily and bravely...
And yet, I resisted giving the world this nugget that literally controls a huge part of my life. There are bad parts, too, of course, like not wanting to work an entire week and having to force yourself to do anything, or going into the other extreme and finding yourself the proud owner of a boxful of books because of binge shopping on Amazon.
We all have our challenges, but they're here to teach us something.
I think the day we can accept our challenges as mentors and friends who have come into our lives to teach us something valuable, the more likely we'll be able to use them to our advantage and really begin to live authentic & vulnerable lives. When it comes to living courageously and embracing vulnerability, Brene Brown says it best:
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of our light.
There's immense power in knowing. Even though there's bliss in ignorance and magic in mystery, as creative rebels we need to know what tools we possess in order to fully grasp and leverage our Natures. Only then will we be able to STAND OUT in our oversaturated industries and stop beating ourselves up for our personal deficiencies.
You know, maybe I should let Gary illustrate my point: "I'm a big fan of going ALL IN on your strengths and not giving a f*ck about what you suck at."
Make an appointment with a friend who is also a good interviewer, and talk to them about your superpowers (emphasis on your secret ones). And let me know what you came up with in the comments! I would love to get to know you better. :)