Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's Your Superpower?

The other day, I saw a t-shirt sporting text that read:

I'm raising a child with autism.
What's your superpower?

I thought about the parents I know who are raising kids with autism. Indeed, some seem to be endowed with superpowers. Standing in the shower this morning I thought about the question: what's your superpower?

I quickly came to the conclusion that, among them, one of my superpowers lies in my gut response to the question. Whereas many would respond with something like, "Hmm... I'm not sure I even have a super power", my first thought was, "Hmm... which one shall I describe first?"

Of course everyone has superpowers (yes, plural). Not everyone sees or acknowledges them. You might have latent superpowers just waiting to manifest. For sundry reasons, you may deny your superpowers. You may fear the side-effects of using your superpowers. You may view your superpowers as detriments. You may not fully understand your superpowers.

Nonetheless, YOU have superpowers.

A Superpower Denied
One of my superpowers is tenacity; I never give up.

I used to not fully understand or accept this superpower because I was unable to reconcile it with situations in which I felt I had given up. Then one day I realized that not giving up on what you consider to be most important often requires you to quit things that are of lesser importance. The thing of lesser importance may still be quite important in the grand scheme of things. However, if you want superpower-level tenacity, then you sometimes have to make what they call "the tough decisions."

So quitting something, even something important, may in fact be a side-effect of tenacity operating a superpower levels.

Another situational side-effect of tenacity that I had misinterpreted as a lack of tenacity was quitting something that was indeed aligned with what I considered to be important, or at least, appeared to be so.

For example, you decide that it's really important to have at least one oak tree on every corner in town. You join a movement to oakify Great Barrington. Standing on the corner wearing a sandwich sign, you hand out flyers designed to increase oak-awareness. You take a stand for oaks at town council meetings. You donate money to the cause. You raise money for the cause. 

One day you find that many in the movement are not particularly concerned about oakification. Some would be just fine with pine trees. Some have come only for the complimentary coffee and organic donuts.

You realize that the movement is unlikely to ever achieve its goal. You realize that most members would be perfectly happy with that. After all, what would they do on Thursdays if the movement were over because it had succeeded?

So, you quit. 

Quitting the movement doesn't mean that you've given up on oakification. Quitting the movement is a side-effect of your tenacity superpower. Your commitment to oakification is stronger than your commitment to the oakification movement. Since you're the one taking action, it appears as though you've changed when in fact it's the movement that has changed.

Anyway, once I realized that quitting is often a requirement of tenacity, I came to embrace yet another of my many superpowers.

A Full Bouquet
But enough about me. What about you? What are your superpowers? You certainly have at least some. There may be one or two that immediately come to mind when you hear the question, but you don't want to say them aloud. What are they? Why don't you want to say them?

Perhaps it's easier to start with someone else. What are your partner's super powers? What are your kids' superpowers? Who do you know with superpowers? What are they?

Perhaps it's easier to start with aspiration. What superpowers do you wish you had? How are you gonna develop them?

Happy Saturday,

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