- Good self-awareness, whether knowing yourself or knowing how you’re perceived, can serve you in many areas of life.
- Productivity and success in work and life are enhanced by employing your natural talents to pursue deeply meaningful and heartfelt work.
- Tapping into your passions and activities that feel deeply meaningful can turn your strength into a superpower.
Self-awareness can impact your well-being and life success, yet only 12 to 15 percent of people surveyed actually possess self-awareness (Eurich, 2018). Self-awareness pertains to understanding yourself both internally (knowing yourself) and externally (how you’re perceived), both facets beneficial for our learning and development.
Though understanding how you are perceived helps you make your way in the world and work with others, having a deep awareness of who you are is your foundation for successful relationships. For example, if you are unaware of your personal preferences and tendencies, you may not notice how these unconscious beliefs affect your values, words, and behavior and, therefore, your interactions with others.
In addition to discovering hidden liabilities, developing a deep self-awareness allows you to take advantage of opportunities that may be otherwise unknown to you. Your superpowers may be waiting to be discovered, developed, and used to great effect and are available to you through inner work.
Here are four ways to develop your strengths, talents, and natural tendencies into the superpowers that you might not dare to imagine!
1. Develop your natural talents and strengths.
In my previous post, we discussed that one hack to becoming your best self is to intentionally develop your natural tendencies. Knowing and developing your strengths and other personality traits can help you more easily navigate your challenges and increase your odds for success by embracing your authenticity.
Your performance will improve by developing and employing your strengths and natural talents, instead of trying to fix your weaknesses. Commercially available and free assessments are available to help you to name, understand, and intentionally develop such tendencies. For example, Gallup’s Clifton StrengthFinders helps us to understand where we can excel at executing, analyzing, relationship-building, or influencing. Similarly, the VIA strengths assessment identifies talents such as gratitude or forgiveness that, when grouped, also reveal our talents across specific domains.
Employing your strengths tends to be energizing, and you can enhance performance even more by doing work that feeds your heart and soul. Extraordinary performance can be the outcome, producing results that might even surprise you.
2. Focus on what feels meaningful to you.
Just because something should feel meaningful to you doesn’t mean that it feeds your heart. Your head may think this is important work, and it probably is. And your heart might wish you were doing something else.
Your heart also determines how you feel about your work. If your heart isn’t fully into what you’re doing, you’re leaving behind a key piece of your enthusiasm and energy that might take your performance to the next level. When your heart is in your work, it can be the secret sauce to accessing superb performance.
Rate your feelings about your work on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “I can’t wait to go to work!” Explore any ambivalence about your current situation. Pay attention to which activities and projects feel most satisfying, exciting, and energizing. Prioritize these as much as you can so that they may catalyze your strength into a superpower.
3. Explore your life lessons.
The difference between a superpower and a strength is a matter of degree. When you apply your strength to something that feels meaningful in your heart, your energy for the task makes that strength, and the outcome, shine brighter.
However, meaningful work can go much deeper into what feels like a calling. Some naturally have an inherent sense of their calling. Research shows that only one-third of people sense their calling (Duffy & Sedlacek, 2007; Wrzesniewski, McCauley, Rozin, & Schwartz, 1997), so most of us do not identify a specific calling.
You do not have to sense your calling to deepen your sense of meaning in your work or life. Reflect on what has felt most challenging in your life. The challenge may affect you directly or indirectly, or both. Examples of indirect challenges could include how a loved one’s addiction affected your family’s financial stability, how community violence caused you to feel unsafe, etc.
It is possible that it takes years for many of us to discover our calling or deep purpose because an accumulation of life experience is required. In this sense, a life of ease with little or no substantial challenge possibly provides insufficient grist for the mill that provides meaning in our lives.
Also consider your favorite movies or stories. Which storyline or situation felt most gut-wrenching and then joyful when resolved?
With these personal exemplars, you can identify what feels most deeply and personally relevant to you. If you identified more than one example, what themes do they share? Given these examples, what type of work would feel most important and impactful to you?
Take some time to contemplate what feels most authentically resonant with your life’s purpose, then plan its pursuit. It may be a long and winding path to reach your ultimate goal. It may require that you learn, volunteer, experiment, and/or innovate as you prepare for your grand objective. Be willing to go step-by-step over an extended timeframe to realize this dream. A significant amount of preparation is likely required before you’re ready to fully move into this work.
4. Integrate and iterate.
Your superpower is a combination of pursuing your deepest, most heartfelt purpose using your natural talents and abilities. Just like with any other skill, superpower development requires commitment, effort, experimentation, and growth.
Sometimes you will “fail,” also known as learning and honing your skill. Embrace the lesson and experiment with different approaches. Superpowers don’t emerge overnight, won’t make you perfect, and don't allow you to substitute magic for hard work. Rather, they create a greater sense of ease and fun as you learn, work hard, and continually push the margins of your comfort zone.
Avail yourself of the many wonderful skill development resources online and in your community. For example, the Foundation for Family and Community Healing offers many resources for developing self-awareness and other skill development modules for you or the groups you serve.
In the end, your reward may be to find that you’re flying higher and to places that you’ve never dreamed possible.
And the even better news is that your other superpowers await. Work on them one at a time, for one will fuel the next.
Then, the sky is the limit.
Duffy, R. D., & Sedlacek, W. E. (2007). The presence of and search for a calling: Connections to career development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 70(3), 590-601. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2007.03.007
Eurich, T. What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It). It’s not just about introspection. Harvard Business Review, January 04, 2018
Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C., Rozin, P., & Schwartz, B. (1997). Jobs, careers, and callings: People's relations to their work. Journal of Research in Personality, 31(1), 21-33. doi:10.1006/jrpe.1997.2162