Anyone who ever changed the world had three things at their disposal.
- Other people who joined them in their effort – no one ever changed the world alone
- Skills that they learned along the way – the things that they got really good at doing that helped them realize their dreams
- Their superpower
Everyone has a superpower.
You may even be lucky enough to have several superpowers. Your superpower is a thing that you are extremely good at – a talent that is completely native to you. The thing that defines your native talent is that it is just something that is naturally inside of you. You don’t have to try very hard at it; it’s something that you simply possess. Something that other people don’t have.
Why is it so hard to find your native talent?
The thing about the native talent is that it can be incredibly difficult to identify. And here’s why – because it comes so naturally to you that you don’t recognize it as a talent. It is a skill that has always just been there, so you naturally assume everyone has it in their possession.
Think of every pair of sneakers you ever purchased. Didn’t they all come with laces? You would never expect to open up the box to a brand new pair of shoes to find that the laces weren’t included. Your native talent is like the laces. You just assume there’s a pair of laces in every box. That your native talent – whatever it is – comes with every human body, just like it comes with yours. It’s like breathing or sweating – it’s just a part of being a person.
Quite often, someone else will spot your native talent before you do. Someone will say to you, for example: “You’re so good at leading a meeting.” And you may be surprised. You’ll dismiss the compliment. And then someone else may identify the same thing. Or you may find yourself wanting to jump in and run other meetings that you’re a part of simply to make them more efficient or effective. And eventually you might start to realize that something you’d never given a second thought to – running a highly effective meeting – was in fact a secret superpower that lies in you that other people don’t possess.
Finding someone else’s native talent
Spotting superpowers for other people is one of the greatest gifts you can give a person. One of my team members once asked me what I thought she was really good at. I shared that I thought that her native talent was connecting with and caring about people. She screwed her nose up. She argued that that wasn’t a skill. She was looking for a tangible ability, like writing, or editing, or data analysis. But I was insistent – your native talent is how you connect with people.
It was about eight months later when she came to me and said she had realized I was right; that connecting with and caring about people really was something she did much better than others around her.
In turn, she did the same thing for me. She observed that my native talent is follow through – I have an in-built ability to execute on ideas. I don’t have to think about it very much. When I have an idea, an action plan for what needs to happen by when to make the idea happen just sort of comes to me. It automatically lays itself out in my mind’s eye. I don’t have to think about it very much.
But when my team member first identified this as my native talent, I scoffed. I insisted it was not a talent. I didn’t even really recognize that this was something that I did habitually. It was about six months later that I realized she is right – follow through comes more easily to me than it does to others. It is, in fact, my superpower.
You see, the word superpower makes it sound all very glamorous. So when we are seeking out our own superpowers, we look for things like scaling tall buildings or moving pencils with our eyes. In fact, the very definition of a superpower is something that is so normal and habitual for you that it is seemingly boring and mundane. It can make them very tricky to identify. Try asking your friends and coworkers what your native talent is and see what they say. And give it some thought before you dismiss their suggestions out of hand.
What can you do with your native talent once you’ve found it?
Once you have identified your native talent (or one of them) is when things get really exciting. Because you have found the thing that – if you invest the majority of your energy into it – will make everything else you have to do easier or unnecessary.
Think about it. One of Spider-Man’s superpowers is crawling up tall buildings with arachnid-like agility. By concentrating on this ability, he saves himself a lot of running, walking, time in cabs, and other ways of getting around.
To use my own personal example, once I realized that my native talent is executing on an idea, I used that skill to make plans to strengthen my skills or knowledge in areas of weakness. For instance, learning the ins and outs of small business financing hasn’t come easily to me. So I used my native talent to put together a plan on how to educate myself in this area. It has proved incredibly impactful.
And to use the example of my team member, she uses her native talent of relating to and connecting with people to enroll others in helping her get huge tasks done, such as planning large events or executing big projects. She knows she can’t do everything, but she knows she can elicit people to help her do everything.
Mastering your native talent is a simple way to produce greater results with less effort.
If you’ve read The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, you are familiar with this concept. The rule goes that 80% of your results will be generated by 20% of your input. Therefore, figuring out which of your skills is naturally your strongest and concentrating the majority of your effort on that skill, will produce the biggest possible output with a minimal input.
Think about that for a moment. If you plugged all your effort into something that takes very little effort in the first place, think of what you could do. Simply put, you could change the world.
How can you find your own native talent?
If thinking about your own superpower leaves you scratching your head in confusion, try these simple tips:
- Ask your friends, family and coworkers what they have noticed you are really, really good at. Then spend the next few days observing yourself and see if their suggestions ring true.
- Think about the times when you are most satisfied or fulfilled in your personal or professional life, or when you achieved the greatest result. What skills did you use to generate those results.
- Consider times when you have been annoyed or frustrated by something a friend or coworker did or didn’t do. Often, it annoys us when others don’t do something that comes easily to us.
If at first you don’t succeed at identifying your native talent, keep trying. Your superpower is inside you and working away already. You just need to give it a name.
And once you do – put all of your effort into using it. The results you’ll produce will be remarkable.