Whether you’re the founder of your own business or an employee, I’ll bet there are parts of your role that you absolutely love and that you are extraordinary at, and parts of your role that leave you cold.
Like many members of Soho House clubs around the world, I recently received the following note from the founder, Nick Jones. It took facing his own mortality for him to have this clarity:
” In early summer I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was caught early and my treatment has been 100% successful – and I’m not only healthy again, but also cancer-free.
Inevitably, this experience has changed my perspective and focus. As a result, from today I’m transitioning from CEO to my original role as Founder and will focus on the creative and membership aspects of Soho House. I want to do more of what I love, which is making sure you have a good time in well-designed, welcoming spaces and focusing on our House Foundations programmes, which help people flourish in the creative industries.
Taking over the day-to-day running of the business will be Andrew Carnie, who’s worked alongside me for the past four years. I know him well and Soho House will be in safe hands with him as our new CEO.”
What’s your superpower?
No matter how much you see yourself as an “all-rounder,” we each have a superpower strength – a way in which we feel most joy in making a contribution to the world.Thanks to his near-death experience, Nick Jones understands his superpower is creating spaces for people to flourish in the creative industries. What’s yours?
Are you a story-teller, a salesperson, an organizer, a teacher, or a guide? Are you a Manifester, who loves turning ideas and reams into tangible real things?
Or are you an Empowerer, able to give others what they want and need to become more powerful? For a fuller list of possible superpower strengths scroll to the bottom of this article.
Does time go quickly, or slowly?
When you’re working on a project you love, when you’re playing to your natural superpower strengths, with people you gel with, when you’re in your element, do the hours seem like minutes? Do you end your day feeling energized and exhilarated?
And when you’re doing something you’d rather not be doing, something that someone else could doubtless do better, when you’re not in your element, does the time go quite slowly? Do you end your day feeling drained and depleted?
No great surprises here. But what continually astonishes me is how much time and energy bright, resourceful, creative people often spend on projects and tasks which bring them no joy; projects which take away from using the superpower strength which has the potential to enrich them, and transform their entire community or organization.
You are your biggest asset
I’m talking about the founder of a design studio, whose superpower is “perfect taste,” – they’re able to create aesthetic 3-D symphonies in their imagination, They have won awards for their work designing domestic interiors around the world, but they spend a big part of each day ordering soft furnishings online, or worse still, toiling over their company’s accounts.
There’s the CEO of a music company whose superpower is their Music Mind: an understanding of what music makes people happiest in different settings. They can program a soundtrack that will make guests smile in a five-star hotel, or walk faster on a station platform, yet they devote most of their time at work to managing the needs of corporate clients.
Or how about the co-founder of a trends and strategy boutique who possess Future sense: They can somehow divine future trends and behaviors. That’s their superpower. Yet, somehow, they’ve ended up focusing on the marketing of their business, which they don’t enjoy.
The justifications are many and various:
Do you feel you need to be competent in many areas?
There is a mistaken belief, held by many, that it’s not enough to be brilliant in one specialist area; it’s not enough to have one superpower strength. Raised by an education system designed to create servants of the Empire, most of us were taught that we have to all be able to perform a great number of tasks. You don’t have to be good at everything. You only need to really extraordinary at one thing.
Do you feel you need to earn the respect of the team by “playing every instrument?
Great conductors are not mostly musicians who can pick up any instrument. Their superpower is their ability to see people’s talents and strengths and help them work together as a team.
Yet we often feel we need to be able to do everyone else’s job as well (or instead of) our own, in order to win the respect of our teams. We were raised to never ask anyone to do anything we couldn’t do ourselves.
When you pick other people who are great at (and love) doing what you don’t love doing, you’re creating an opportunity for you and them to shine.
Do you need to be Independent, so as not to count on anyone else?
Many founders are fiercely independent. Some even founded their business precisely because they felt the system had failed them. In my experience, many creative founders have a strong belief that they cannot count on anyone else, because they’ve been let down badly in the past. Others feel that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness.
When you delegate to people on your team by giving away a project fully and completely, you create a space where people feel fulfilled and recognised.
Do you believe you can’t afford not to do the “grunt work?
This is about self-belief. Or lack of it. If you had an employee with your superpower strength, I bet you would not want to pay them to do anything else. Like the Miller in the fable of Rumplestiltskin, you’d make sure that employee was spending every single minute spinning straw into gold. But, somehow, when it’s you who we’re talking about, it’s fine for you to economise by spend 20 hours each week cleaning out the stables, when in fact you could, if you hired a stable-hand, be spinning straw into gold yourself.
In truth, you can’t afford not to be doing what you do best (and love the most.) You are your own biggest asset. Your superpower is worth investing in.
Don’t wait for a near death experience to focus on what you love most and do best
When we realise that our life is almost over and we look back, most of us feel we have not honoured even half of our dreams, and die knowing that it was due to choices we had made, or not made. In a wonderful book, titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying — A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, the author and palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, notes that our greatest dying regret is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
The ultimate takeaway from Bronnie Ware’s encounters with hundreds of men and women at the very end of their lives is this: Most of us do not realize until the end that joy and lightness is a choice. The hundreds of men and women who Bronnie cared for in their last days, were stuck in old patterns and habits. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, until the very end, that they were content when they were not.
One of our most common human regrets is that we did not live true to our superpower. My life purpose and what brings me joy, is supporting others to live (and die) without uneccessary regrets. We feel better about ourselves and more excited by life, when we’re doing whatever it is we love to do, and do best.
Partial List Of Possible Superpowers
Manifesting: you’re to take ideas and turn them into real things. Can transform dreams into reality.
Grounding: you can calm and stabilize chaotic and frenzied environments.
Decisiveness: you can make decisions confidently in any situation.
Form: you’re able to create order out of chaos. You can see potential systems in any situation.
Ultra-correct: you have common sense and clear thinking. You always know the right answer.
Empower: you’re able to give others what they want and need to become more powerful.
Amplify: you can take any emotion and make it stronger. You can turn cheerfulness into joy and frustration into rage.
Emotoscan: you know how any one person or group of people are feeling instantly. You’re able to ‘read’ a crowd or individual.
Mega-presence: you’re able to be the centre of attention in any situation. All eyes are on you when you walk into a room.
Flourish: you can take anything and make it grow or reproduce food, money, friends, plants, etc.
Perfect taste: you’re able to create food and drink that is delicious from whatever is available. You can create symphonies of taste in their imagination.
Honoring: you instantly know what would make someone happy — finding the perfect gift or saying the perfect thing.
Treasure: you’re able to find money or other valuable items anywhere.
Attraction: you can attract exactly what is desired: gifts, deals, wealth, health, relationships, anything.
Possibility: you’re able to see the greatness others are capable of, sees the best in everyone — even when they can’t see it themselves.
Futuresense: you can divine what is going to happen in the future.
Conductor: you’re able to see people’s talents and strengths and help them work together as a team.
Truth detector: you can see through lies and tricks and always knows what is real.
Calculation: you can anticipate possibilities in the future and have a plan in place. Always ready to handle any situation.
Healing beauty: you can naturally make beautiful things which are healing to those who witness/hear/experience them.
Music mind: you’re able to recall and sing any song at any time. Can create songs on the spot.
Heart thinking: you’re able to store lots of thoughts and feelings in one’s heart and know what to do without mulling it over in the mind.
Super-smell: you can identify scents at great distances. Can pick out scents n crowds and track people and things by smell.
Clear-finding: you can find anything anywhere.
Camouflage/invisibility: you’re able to blend in anywhere — in crowds, in nature, etc.
Spin: you can use words to dazzle, confuse, fascinate, convince, etc.
Adaptation: you can figure out how to be in any environment or situation. Knows the rules and ways of a community in seconds and fits in.
Warming: you can easily make people feel warm and loved and nourished.
Safe-make: you can create a bubble of safety around someone else.
Connection: you can bring together different people and include anyone into any group — finds the things that connect us together.
Shield: you can make an impenetrable barrier of safety around self to protect against negative energy.
Super-force: you become extra strong when force is needed to protect or help others.
Steadfast: you keep going — even when it is very difficult. Can inspire others to keep going too.
Fabricate: you’re able to make anything with whatever is around. A master craftsman.
Improve: you can take anything and make it better. Work better, look better, behave better.
Genius: you’re able to come up with amazing new ideas.
Charm: you can smile and get whatever you want. Everyone’s friend, you’re always welcome anywhere.
Elevate: you can make others feel special, beautiful, powerful, etc.
Smile: you can make others smile with ease.
Illumination: you havethe ability to see and reveal truths that others can’t see. Exposing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Revealing the impossible.