How boost your Superpowers with Systems and Supporters

4 January 2019 productivity superpowers purpose purposedriven
Paul McGillivray

Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

I’ve worked with over 200 companies since 1999 to help them use software to improve their reach, maximise their output and multiply their impact. I’ve worked with some great people, and the impact they’re having in the world is awesome and inspiring.

The way I see it, we all have something that we’re brilliant at. Our ‘Superpower’. Some of us have more than one, although they usually tessellate together to make one big Superpower.

What is your Superpower? It’s the activity that makes you feel alive when you’re doing it. It’s something that gets you into ‘flow’, where time is lost and everything seems to come naturally. It’s an activity that comes easier to you than to others; in fact it’s something that comes so naturally to you that you may well presume that it’s not actually a Superpower because it’s so easy to do that surely everyone else must find it this easy too.

That activity, when practiced deliberately, when learnt and pushed to the outside edge of your comfort zone, over and over as you get better and better at it and grow and improve at it, is the gateway to mastery

It’s also your gateway to Purpose.

When you achieve mastery at your Superpower, you can see and do things that are very unique to you, in a way that no others can. And we can see, quite clearly, how that super power can be put to use to benefit the world.

That’s awesome, and vital, and something I talk about a lot. But that’s not, really, what this article is about. If you want to find out more about mastery and mission, read Cal Newport’s book ‘So good they can’t ignore you’ - it’s excellent.

But wait - before you go - there’s something important you need to know. Even when you’ve identified your Superpower, and decided how you can put it to work for the benefit of the planet, the chances are that you’re not going to manage very well at achieving your mission.

I’ve spoken to dozens of business leaders about this subject, and the response is almost always the same.

“Yes, I see how this is my Superpower. I love it when I’m working within it. But there’s all this other stuff to do. I can’t get on to working within my super power until I’ve got all this other stuff out the way!”

You know that ‘stuff’. It’s the admin. The reports, the filing, the proposals, the quotes, the management, the payroll, the letters to the landlord, or the letters to the tenants. It’s the cogs of the business that need to keep rolling in order for the business to keep running. The business can’t move forward or create or innovate or have a direction without your Superpower driving it, but it can’t run at all without the endless stream of admin that you have to do first. And there’s always, always, always ‘washing in the basket’.

So we get on with the admin, and we tell ourselves sincerely and with the best of intentions that next week will be quieter, and so we’ll have more space to write that book or record that podcast that we know will transform our position in the market, or begin working on that product that we know will transform our business.

Or maybe the next week. The week after that will definitely be quieter.

I like superhero analogies; they work well for me and I think they’re fun, so indulge me here.

Let’s look at Superman, one of our most beloved comic book heroes. In his outfit, flying around saving the world, day after day, protecting the planet from Lex Luthor and his villainous cohorts. What a great guy. Where would the city of Metropolis be without him? Well, we’ve seen what happens when he’s not around, and it’s not pretty.

And then there’s his secret identity, Clark Kent. A stable-if-unreliable journalist, working with Louis Lane to report on the comings and goings of the city, working to meet those deadlines so that The Daily Planet can go to print on time.

Clark Kent’s unreliable because whenever there’s trouble, he puts on his Superman outfit and flies off, faster than a speeding bullet, to save the day once again. Louis is left to meet the deadline and pick up the reporting slack.

And that’s the way it should be; Clark’s reporting skills are average at best. And he gets flustered and messes up way too often. Yes, it’s a clever way of diverting any possible suspicion away from him when it comes down to working out Superman’s real identity (because those glasses are such a great disguise!) but let’s be honest, his average ability is not really much of a help to The Daily Planet and its ongoing headline deadlines!

But where he absolutely excels is when he’s superman. He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s intelligent, he’s courageous, he’s indestructible, he FIRES LASERS FROM HIS EYES! Those are his unique abilities, his individual talents, those are the Superpowers that the world needs him to be using. I’m really sorry, Clark Kent, but the world doesn’t care very much at all about your article-writing abilities.

Lois Lane on the other hand, is a BRILLIANT newspaper reporter. She’s curious, she’s sharp, she has a nose for a great story, she gets underneath webs of corruption and exposes the truth. Metropolis needs her! Reporting is her Superpower!

Can you imagine how awful it would be if Batman called on Superman to join the Justice League, to help him and Wonder Woman save the planet, and Superman declined the offer, because he had an article to write about the rise of stray dogs in Hell’s Kitchen? It wouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen because both Clark and Louis know what their super powers are, and they both do everything they can to work within them.

And that’s how we should be. Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan calls Superpowers ‘Unique Abilities’, and says categorically that every minute you spend at work that you’re not working within your Unique Ability, you’re wasting your day.

If you’re not sure what your Superpower is, you can take the Kolbe test for a surprisingly insightful analysis of your unique abilities; your gift to the world.

We also advise our clients to do this simple exercise. For the next week or two, keep a notepad by your desk, or fire up a blank Excel/Sheets/Numbers spreadsheet if that’s your thing.

Every time you do a task, write a short description of the task - just a few words - alongside how long you spent on the task, and then a number between 1 and 10 to grade how you feel while doing it - 1 is drained and exhausted, and 10 is Energised and in the flow.

After a couple of weeks, you should have a great list of all the kind of jobs you’re doing, which ones energise you, and which jobs leave you exhausted. We want you to be working on the stuff you’re great at, and love doing (your Superpower), and pass those draining tasks onto a system or a person that can do them for you.

It’s as simple as that.

So what can we do to make sure that we spend more time as Superman, and less as Clark Kent?

Here are your options:

  1. Your Team.
    Work out the Superpowers of everyone in your team, and delegate work accordingly. Dan Sullivan’s maxim applies to them, too. When you find yourself working on something that isn’t your Superpower, think about whether someone in your team has a Superpower that would make the job 10x easier.
  2. Virtual Assistants.
    If we’re sticking with the superhero analogy (as we must!), Virtual assistant companies are like employing a single superhero that can turn into any of the other superheroes on demand. They usually form a team of talented individuals that love the jobs you hate, and each have their own individual Superpower. So you need accounts, or marketing, or sales, or leads, or communication dealing with, your VA team can assign the correct person for each task, and you get a specialist working on your admin for the price of a generalist. And you’re freed up to do your important work. It’s like having a hotline to the Justice League.

  3. SaaS systems.
    Software as a Service has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years. If you are able/willing to put in the time to set these systems up, much of your day-to-day admin work can be automated by online apps like Process Street, InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign or Pipefy. Using tools like Zapier or IFTTT, you can then connect these apps up to almost any other app that’s out there and automate huge chunks of your daily admin, freeing you to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

  4. Custom Software.
    Saas is great, but by its very nature, it’s generic; if it can do exactly what you need it to do, then you’re away. But if you need something to happen in a process that the App simply can’t do, then there’s another level. Custom Software developers can build you applications that are finely-tuned to your optimum way of doing things, and can often help you simplify your existing processes along the way. Sometimes you’ll need a whole new custom application to manage your workflow and processes, and sometimes you’ll need a part-custom solution that can plug into existing apps; a good Software company will help you identify the right solution for you, and will work with you to make a system that is more powerful than a locomotive and faster than a speeding bullet. With your own custom software managing the simple, logical and repeatable processes in your business so that you don’t have to, you’ll be flying in no time at all. It’s time for you to show the world your super powers.

    If you’d like to talk to a great Software company about building your own custom solution, give us a call at Remote; we’d love to help you save the planet.

I believe that the workplace should be somewhere that everyone looks forward to going to. Everyone has the right to leave for work with a spring in their step, and leave for home with the feeling that what they just spent their day doing actually means something - that they’ve made a difference.

Finding our Superpowers is a great step towards living that life. Make that step today; you won’t regret it.

Paul McGillivray

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