What are you?

You, like every one around you, have that one distinguishing characteristic. Something that defines you. Likely the first thing that people that know you will mention when they describe you to someone who has never met you. It is the anchor your friends have in their minds when thinking about you. It is what resonates when they think of you.

The reason I’m asking you that specific question is not because I’m trying to reduce you to that characteristic. You are, as I am, a complex person. But there is that one characteristic that comes out naturally, even if you are not aware of it. Mainly when you are not aware of it.

I have a colleague who is kind. Kindness is her default position, and irrespective of what is going on, she will be kind first. I have another colleague who is driven. He is a powerhouse, and if people describe him, they will likely describe him as a toy powered by a new battery. He keeps going where most would give up. I know that I am curious … I need to be fed with ideas, information and I need to connect that information. I had another colleague, a couple of years ago, who was brilliant at synthesis and real-world application of that synthesis. Give him a complex book and he would find an application of it out there in the world.

But why is it important? Because this one characteristic, the one that everyone sees, is the most important strength you have. It is likely your super power. And you should play to that super power as much as possible.

The rest of your competencies can support you in optimising the use of that super power. But all too often, from an early age, you are asked to hide that super power from the world. Because it prevents you from fitting in. Because it makes you different. Because you are not compliant. Because bizarrely, you don’t fit into the box which was readily made for you.

Tough luck (for the people with the boxes) … we need your super power now. I would like to encourage you to go back into that garage from your youth where you put that super power into a box and put it in a corner because every time you brought it out, someone made you feel bad. Because that is what we need right now, from you. That is your contribution.

The thing is, having a super power, and we all have super powers, gives you a shot at being part of a team of X-Men (if you are into the Marvel Universe) … and while each of the X-Men by themselves are impressive, that is not what makes the team great. It is the combination of those super powers, working together, that make a great, creative, disruptive, world redefining team.

And this is fundamentally why you need to understand, and embrace, what you are. Because if you know and understand what you are capable of, you will understand whom you need to surround yourself with to optimise the use of that capability. Not for you, not for that team, but ideally for the greater good of the world … even if that world is right around your corner and no further than that.