Are you a talent or super hero at work?
Last week a CEO client stopped me in mid conversation and said, “My super power is pattern recognition. What’s yours?”
He hails from The Valley, so I guess this sort of language is to be expected. His question did make me think of Intel’s amazing brand campaign, Your Rock Stars Aren’t Like Our Rock Stars. The campaign that says proudly and loudly, “Yes indeed, this is a company where we do celebrate our scientists and their science”.
Thinking more about the term ‘super power’, I reckon the word ‘talent’ carried similar kudos about 20 years ago. Hollywood hired ‘talent’, and so the word caught on in HR and recruitment circles. We’re looking for talent, not just people. Soon the war on ‘talent’ became a thing, and today we even have four recruitment businesses [in Australia alone] with the word ‘talent’ in their name.
Perhaps ‘super heroes’ is the new word for ‘talent’. We’re looking for talented people who also have big dreams. We’re looking for talented people who also believe they can change the world. We’re looking for talented people who also have a super power. In other words we’re looking for ‘super heroes’ [not just talented people]. Talk about aiming high!
“So what’s yours, Richard?” he asked me again. I paused, thought, hesitated. Heck, isn’t this something I should just ‘know’ or ‘have’ on tap. “Invisibility”, I replied. A cute cop out because I didn’t have the answer to his question on the tip of my tongue. What is my super power?
When I was a kid I really believed in the power and the goodness of my super heroes. Charlie Brown. Superman. Tin Tin. Captain Horatio Hornblower. Ivanhoe. The Count of Monte Cristo. More than figments of my imagination, these heroes were my daily affirmation and inspiration. At the same time it was always understood by me, in an unsaid sort of way, that I could never be one of them. That I would never be one of them. And that was that.
I guess that’s why I had a sort of mental “what’s my super power?” block. I had never really allowed myself to go there. To think like that. To think about myself in that way. “Me? A super hero?”
The way I see it now, we are all super heroes. Every single person has a super power. The only difference between ‘talented people’ and ‘super heroes’ is whether or not their SUPER POWER switch is turned ON, or OFF. And the only person who can flick that switch ON is YOU. And the only time to flick the switch is right now.