Life Happens – Don’t Punish Your Team For Living It

DSCF2439_1Sometimes we all just have to lighten up and let it go.

This weekend here on the East Coast we had one of those gigantic, epic snowstorms that local news programs go crazy for. When the snows are 12, 18, 24 inches or more, there is nothing you can do about it. Complaining about it won’t change anything. Worrying about work not getting done, meetings being cancelled, and due dates at risk will just raise your anxiety, but won’t move the snow out of the road.

I can hear some of you now – work must get done. We can’t let the weather win. We must get back our lost productivity. A snow day shouldn’t be a free vacation day!

I have heard similar complaints not only about weather delays, but anytime life gets in the way of work. Someone actually uses their vacation days, takes bereavement time when they lose a parent or a friend, or need a few hours to take their child to the doctor.  And then there are the people who brag about how busy they are, and keep score by comparing how many hours they spend at the office.

Is this how you want to live your life? What about your team? People work hardest for those leaders that they like and respect. They like and respect those leaders that genuinely like and respect them in return. Bosses that push people relentlessly in a death march to the end will get time and effort in return, but only enough to stay out of trouble. Great leaders manage real people with real lives. Expecting the best work from your people, and giving them the space to manage their lives will allow them to bring their best to the workplace every work day. They will want to give their best because they know they are truly valued.

People talk a lot about work live balance. Most of the time this is discussed as it relates to time allocated to work and time allocated to “not work”. This doesn’t really work in our hyper-connected, 24 hour world. You can receive email 24 hours a day on multiple devices, work from anywhere there is an internet connection, or meet by conference call, work life balance is less about “reserving” time for your life, and more about living your life while working.

So what does this mean for a leader? Well, in the winter, snow happens. Plan for it and let people off the hook if they tell you there is a four feet high snow pile in front of their driveway. People have families – leave space for them to attend to the needs of their family when they need to, with the understanding that they will make time for work deadlines they you need them to. And, above all, lighten up. Let a little humor help buoy the team during the tough times. Your team are not robots – they are people. Make it clear what is expected of your team, hold them accountable for delivering on their responsibilities, and give them the space to succeed – no matter what life throws at us.

And the little guy in the picture? I don’t know his name, but he makes me smile. Sometimes that’s all we need, no matter how much snow there is outside.

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Being Willing Makes You Able

sunset-summer-golden-hour-paul-filitchkin-mediumA number of years ago I worked for a small consulting firm. We were offered a somewhat risky contract that would be very difficult and would require learning an entirely new industry – one with a relatively high failure rate for projects. The customer trusted us, and it sounded really exciting, so we took the contract. We were ultimately successful, and it was a big win for the company, and allowed our team to develop some very lucrative follow-on work. I learned a lot from that project, but the biggest lesson of all is that the biggest wins come from taking the smartest risks. This is true for individual roles as well – does anyone who gets a promotion really know what the job entails until it happens? Being willing to take on a role outside your comfort zone is the first and most important step to being able to do the job.

You may have heard the phrase “fake it till you make it.” Often this is a good strategy, but to really succeed you must take it little further. You must be willing to take calculated risks in order to grow, and you must develop a strong skill set that will support your ability to take on the risk. If you continue to do the same things you always do, you will stagnate. You must continue to learn and grow. But taking training courses and keeping up with the professional journals isn’t nearly enough. If you wait until you are an expert in something before you start doing it, you are already behind. Consider instead developing the skills and strategies necessary to take on the risky projects. To step up into the unknown with confidence. How do people get promoted? Visibility. How can you achieve visibility? Be willing to take on the big tasks. That’s the secret. It’s being willing to take on the big tasks that makes you able to take on the big tasks. Being able to step up with confidence to new tasks will get you the opportunities to demonstrate your ability to manage the big tasks.

This does not mean promising to do a task for which you have no skills or experience upon which to build. I would not recommend volunteering to conduct brain surgery if you have no medical training. This also does not mean falsifying your background, skills, or experience to get a job. What it does mean is that you have prepared yourself to take on challenging projects, high profile projects, or new tasks with confidence, not from knowing the path and the outcome in advance, but from knowing that you don’t know everything now, but you have the skills to lead a team of people to find the answers and figure it out. So what are the skills you will need? It’s all about maintaining strong management fundamentals while learning and analyzing.

Attitude – Show confidence in your (and your team’s) ability to succeed. Confidence will be contagious, and when people have confidence that they can do something, they are more likely to actually do it. Don’t dwell on the downside. Address risks as something to be managed.

Communication – With high visibility comes the need for more communication. Over communicating, or not controlling the message, can create additional risks to the project. Focus on progress, new information, and successes. Develop a solid project narrative, and make sure the communication plan is specific about who needs what information, and who needs to be involved in decision making.

Management – If you are stepping into unknown territory, the reality is that you will make a lot of assumptions, and you should constantly test and adjust those assumptions. The same with metrics. You must develop strong management fundamentals, and expect to spend more time managing the work than you would on a a more familiar task.

Learning as you go – This is a task that must be managed. Don’t expect to learn what you need to know by “winging it”. Also, business does not stop while you (and your team) come up to speed. You need to plan for the work to go on and for specific learning tasks to occur – often at nearly the same time. Developing a knowledge management strategy will be as critical as the plan, the schedule, or any the management fundamentals.

Team Development – Who you bring to the party may be the most important factor of all. Whether this is a project or a new role, you will need strong support, good advice. For a high risk project, you will need a team that excels in creativity, a team with a broad set of experiences and skill sets, and above all, a team that is comfortable with uncertainty. Or of not comfortable, at least accepting. Successfully leading that team into the unknown requires that you create an environment where failures are part of the job, where getting it wrong is good news (because you now have more information than you had before), and where teamwork is paramount. You must create a safe environment for others to take the risks with you. Building a strong network, a strong team, and promoting their success will reflect that success back to you exponentially.

Is Your Project Plan a Useful Tool or a Treasure Map?

3642387-treasure-mapAs all project managers know, for a project to be successful, it must have a good plan. The plan must be rigorous yet reasonable, well researched but realistic. A project without a plan is not going to succeed – accept maybe by accident or luck. But does it then follow that just because a project has the “best plan ever” that the project will succeed?

Of course not. But I have witnessed project managers who are so committed to the plan that they actually put the project at risk. How can that be? By treating the plan like a treasure map. If I just follow each step of the plan to the letter, I will reach ‘X’ – where ‘X marks the spot’ of a successful project. It sounds a little silly when you say it like that, but it’s a useful image to consider when examining your project plan. Will the plan serve as a useful tool to manage the time, activities, and resources needed to successfully fulfill the project objective? Or is it a tightly scheduled forced march to a predetermined conclusion?

I once had a client that insisted that every minute of every hour was scheduled in the project plan, and that no changes to the plan were allowed without executive approval. I tried to show her how unrealistic that kind of planning was, but she had been burned in the past with unsuccessful projects, and believed that this kind of rigid planning was the only way to protect herself from another failure. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect, and as the project dragged on, tasks got further and further behind. Following a project plan that is too rigid will certainly lead you to where you plan to go, but it may take you where you needed to go. How can you tell if your project plan is a treasure map?

There are no future planning tasks. Have you detail planned the entire project, from initiation to delivery, up front? Even before you’ve completed your analysis, decisions, or designs? If you’ve done this project before – meaning you are specifically replicating a previous effort, like building a boat, then that’s fine. You know the recipe; you know the resources. But if this project has any unknowns, any problems to be solved, or anything new to learn – don’t assume that you know how it is going to go. This doesn’t mean not to plan, but use planning packages. Create decision tasks followed by planning tasks – this allows you to detail plan based on the results of research or design, and the decisions that have been made. It’s these subtle adjustments to the plan that allow the project work to dictate where you go rather than forcing the project along the path you set at the beginning.

There is no breathing/thinking room. Have you detail planned every hour, every day, every week for your project team? I’ve seen this so many times, and it never succeeds. People need time to think, to react to changes, to deal with unexpected events. So how do you build this time in? There are a number of techniques. One can be to set your resource management settings to only schedule 80% of each resources’ time. Another is to put time based packages into each phase that you assign to each resources as needed. I call these packages research or analysis time – and they are defined as time for evaluating, communicating, and sharing project activities. In addition to thinking time, I also encourage this time to be used to break down silos and build relationships among the project team.

Risk management activities are not built into the plan. If you are maintaining a risk log, but are not including risk mitigation tasks in your plan, then your plan is incomplete. The whole point of mitigating risks is to manage the risks and issues that arise during the project. If you haven’t made room for managing risks in your plan, then it is too rigid to be a good management tool. A treasure map plan by default assumes that no risk will alter the plan. Be aggressive about deploying resources to manage risks as part of your project plan.

There is no mechanism for reacting to alternatives. This often goes hand in hand with not including planning packages throughout the project, a plan that doesn’t leave room to adjust to interim results is too rigid. What does this mean? In one traditional waterfall methodology, for example, there is an analysis phase, where requirements are clarified and refined, and alternative resolutions are researched and selected. Then there is a design phase which takes the results of the analysis and designs the details to be developed. Then the development phase results from the design phase, and so on.  Have you ever constructed an entire detailed project plan before the analysis phase even begins? You build it based on a large (and often undocumented) set of assumptions, but then you have to shoe-horn the later phases in to fit the initial plan? There is an alternative – Plan the phases based on the results of the previous phase. Build planning packages to account for constraints, milestones, resources, and risks, and then expand the packages as you arrive at the identification and selection of each alternative.

Don’t Chase Someone Else’s Success – Define Your Own Instead

quotescover-JPG-43It is very useful to take inspiration from the lives of others. Having mentors is an important part of professional and personal development, and emulating people you respect can highlight a path forward for your career. These positive examples can give you confidence in your decisions and confirmation that success is possible. We can also find inspiration through people whose work we admire. Reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and attending seminars are great ways to learn new skills, meet new people, and refresh your thinking. When you find people with similar values and ideas, it can make you feel like you are not alone in the world. The rise of the internet has made finding interesting people and accessing new ideas easier than ever. On top of that, the 24-hour media cycle brings constant stories of start-up millionaires and celebrity glamour.

While it is wonderful to discover new role models and find inspiration in the work of others, there also lurks danger – the twin dragons of jealousy and regret. Don’t get caught in the trap of letting someone else define success for you. Learning from is good – but feeling that because you aren’t doing the same things they are you’ve somehow failed is not. Have you ever seen someone featured on TV and all of a sudden you feel like you’ve wasted your life? You read the blog of your favorite entrepreneur or adventurer, and your career or your last vacation just doesn’t measure up. There was even a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology that demonstrated how people can get depressed if they spend a lot of time reading Facebook. The study described the issue as “social comparison”. Intellectually, we know that our friends only post the good stuff, the interesting events, or the cutest pictures of their kids. But when we see attractive images, or hear about events that we didn’t attend, the pangs of want poke at us.

For people already looking to make a change in their life, these inspirational lives can insert themselves into our dreams and desires. It can be difficult to listen to stories of success and impact, and not imagine that you should be doing that as well. I was in a coaching session recently, and my client was struggling with what she wanted to do. She was feeling the desire to travel the world and live abroad, but she didn’t know how to go about it. We worked through a number of options, but nothing resonated. The more options we discussed, the more the nomadic life didn’t seem fit with her desired lifestyle and other personal ambitions. As we delved into it, it became clear that she was unhappy with her current life, and didn’t have a “mission” of her own yet, and was inspired when she read about people who travel. So she thought by traveling she would be happy. But she had adopted someone else’s dream. When you are looking to make a change, you should examine very deeply whether it is what you really want, or if it just sounds better than what you are doing now. Is this your dream, or is it someone else’s dream that you adopted as your own?

Trying a new way of living on for size is a great way to see if you would like it. Learning from the experience of others can be a great way to broaden our view of what’s possible. Modeling our actions by the example of our mentors can drive us to new heights. But are feeling depressed, not good enough, or jealous of some element of someone else’s life? Do you think you should be doing that too? Only you can define your own success. Don’t let someone else’s life dictates yours to you. Our connected world allows you to sample almost any career or lifestyle you can imagine, and at a fairly low risk or cost. That’s the good news. The bad news is that all those options can leave you feeling overwhelmed and feeling unsuccessful. But remember, you only see what others put out there for you to see. Success is what you define it to be. Whether it’s money, family, service, peace, or something else – it will be a success unique to you. Don’t let others define it for you.

 

At An Impasse? Stuck? Kobayashi Maru It!

sky-night-space-galaxy-mediumNegotiating, finding common ground, and agreeing on the best approach to solving problems is never easy. Even if everyone came to the table with perfectly matched information, education, and opinions it wouldn’t guarantee and easy decision. And that scenario is about as impossible as it gets. In reality, every person you encounter has a unique set of ideas, beliefs, theories, and opinions. Sometimes, you can work through all the information at hand, and either come to find common ground and a mutually satisfactory solution, or the person with the most power or influence can force a decision, whether or not it is for the best.

But what about those scenarios where the decision makers are at an impasse and no agreement can be achieved? This often happens when the parties have strong opinions, beliefs, or vested interests in the outcome, and have staked a position and are expending all their efforts to defend that position? You can look no further than the US Congress to see this disaster scenario at play. If a discussion has reached this point, for all practical purposes it is impossible to move the discussion forward. Everyone is now focused on their position, and listening to and considering new ideas is difficult, if not completely blocked. In projects, I have found that this happens most often with competing business unit sponsors or among advocates of particular technologies or products. What can you do when you’re faced with the “no win” situation? Tell the team to Kobayashi Maru it!

For those of you out there who aren’t Star Trek fans and don’t know what the Kobayashi Maru is, here is a quick explanation.  As part of training of Star Fleet officers, it was a simulation designed to be a test of leadership in the face of a “no-win” scenario. It was designed to evaluate the decision making capability of a prospective captain when every possible choice would have involved significant loss of life. Captain Kirk was famous for “beating the no-win situation” by reprogramming the scenario to allow for a new solution. While some saw this as cheating, he did receive “a commendation for original thinking”.

I use the phrase “Kobayashi Maru it” to mean go back and reframe the issue. Look for another avenue of approach. Create a new narrative to help the group see the question in a different way. Instead of trying to change someone’s beliefs, try to give them a different question to consider, one that is not at odds with their current beliefs.

This also works when you can’t find a solution to a problem. More often than I’d wish, I’ve worked on a project where we’ve stumbled across a problem we couldn’t solve. Either the technology was incapable of meeting the design spec, or we had unresolved competing requirements. Before surrendering and telling the sponsor that they can’t have the requested feature, we would conduct a brainstorming session to examine the intent of the requirement and look for other ways to meet the intent. This results in finding new design options or process changes that can be recommended to overcome the technical impasse.

We all face the “no-win” situation in work and in life, although granted not to the level of a galactic battlefield. But you still will face times when there is no perfect solution, people can’t come to agreement, and you are stuck and can’t move forward. Sometimes you really can’t win. But sometimes you can find a way through the problem. Lead your team through by posing a different question, asking for a different decision, or trying a different approach.  It couldn’t hurt to try, and it might get you too “a commendation for original thinking.”

 

Reclaim Your Mojo On Your Lunch Hour

3F0x632NAre you feeling burned out? In a rut? Looking for something new? Hoping to win the lottery?

I hate to break it to you, but you probably won’t win the lottery. But the good news is, if you can commit 30 – 45 minutes a day, you can gain new skills, find enthusiasm for your work again, or lay the groundwork for moving to a new challenge.

I know, you’ve read this before. Change your life during your lunch hour – not exactly an original idea. “But I’m hungry, tired, and I need the break.” Absolutely right – you do. And you should most certainly take it. I’m not talking about skipping lunch to go to the gym, take a class, or using the time for a “side hustle”, although all of those are a great use of your time.

I’m talking about enhancing your life while eating lunch.

Build relationships – Have lunch with someone you want to get to know better, a friend who inspires or supports you, or invite someone from another office to lunch. Widening your work community will make you feel more connected, and your network can also keep you in the loop when new positions, projects, or initiatives are launched that could provide you with the change you are looking for.

Find inspiration – Limit your Facebook time to 10 minutes or so (I would NEVER tell you not to look at Facebook – that would make me such a hypocrite!) But you may have read that studies show that reading Facebook can actually make you more stressed and depressed. When you are finished skimming your news feed, read a couple of blogs that inspire you. Personally, I use Feedly to consolidate my favorite blogs, but there are many other tools out there. Set up a group of blogs that feed your mind and energize you for the afternoon’s challenges. If you don’t know any, ask people you like and admire who they read, and start there. If you asked me, I might suggest starting with Seth Godin, Gretchin Rubin, or Jonathan Fields. I also love Harvard Business Review.

Learn while listening – I love podcasts. There are so many podcasts out there – from guided meditations and humor to business advice, and anything else you can think of. Both the Apple and Android world have podcast apps, and there are sites you can download them to your favorite MP3 device. Many bloggers also do podcasts. Podcasts are also great for commuting – my favorite driving podcast is Freakonomics. And the best part is, put your headphones on, and podcasts leave your hands and mouth free to consume an energizing and nutritions lunch (or whatever else you are eating – again I don’t want to be a hypocrite!)

Gain a new skill. Yes, I said I was not going to recommend taking a class, and I’m not. (Although online learning is a great way to use your time.) But there are other ways to gain new skills. As you build relationships, ask someone you had lunch with to show you what they do. You can learn all kinds of tips and tricks from blog posts. I love Lifehacker for that. And podcasts? There are so many great teachers out there – it’s an embarrassment of riches. Almost anything you might want to learn has a podcast.

Expand your role – Think about what causes you the most grief in your work life. Is it a broken process? A task that takes up too much of your time in relationship to its overall utility? Is it an old report you are still producing long after anyone is really using it? Spend your lunch time thinking about changing the process to be more efficient, recommending a new way to meet the requirement that reduces the time it takes to complete the task, or whose concurrence you would need to eliminate the obsolete report. Then document your proposal, with your evidence and your recommended alternative, to the right person. Doing this could eliminate a pain point, help others you work with, and raise your profile as someone who is committed to the best course of action for the organization.

The best way to make this work for you? Mix it up! To really get you mojo back, don’t just do one of these – that would be just another rut! If you are a planner, you could set a day for each. Make Monday “Have lunch with someone new” day. “Podcast Fridays” sounds like fun to me. Or, if you like, you can just pick which one inspires you on any given day. And these aren’t the only things you can do. These ideas are just a starting point. Think about where you want to be in life this time next year. What will it take to get you there? Break it down into little steps. Take action at least once a week. Taking concrete action toward a goal is the best way I know to boost your mojo.

The Right Way To Quit

way-out-1233595-1599x1215“I finally fired my client.”

I was having brunch with a friend the other day when she blurted that one out. As an independent contractor, I knew that she was overwhelmed with work at year-end and needed to reduce her workload. As we talked about it, it became clear that she didn’t really fire the client, she just told her that she was no longer going to provide that particular service for the client. (This was the only client she did it for.) Then she told me that the client had “freaked out”, thinking that she would be “gone immediately” and leave the client high and dry. Well, I knew that couldn’t possibly be the case, so I started asking what happened.

My friend told me that she sent her client an email telling her that she had secured a replacement provider that was highly recommended, that she planned to work with the new provider until everything was working well, and that she would still be around to ask questions, since she would still be doing other work for client. “I did everything right, and she still panicked.”

Yes, she did do almost everything right. She took the clients work seriously, and planned for a successful transition. But the client was not happy. Why not?

Once again, it comes down to communication. My friend planned her actions well, but did not communicate the right message to the client. Quitting a job, a volunteer position, or a contract can be a particularly difficult communication task, fraught with emotions on both sides. Handling separations well will brand you as a professional, and preserve your reputation and your relationships into the future.

Don’t quite by email.  No matter what the situation, quitting is always bad news, even when both parties are in agreement that it is best. That’s because the known is always safer than the unknown, and training a new person takes time and resources. In person is always best, but if you are not co-located, telephone or Skype is fine as well.  The conversation should be brief and to the point, and then be followed up immediately by a specific communication in writing covering the discussion and agreements made. Why in person first? This will allow you to head off any panic due to misinformation or misunderstanding. But more than that, in-person interaction confers more trust and assurance than written communication.

Quit generously. Be as conscientious about the job when you are quitting as you were when you started. Give as much notice as possible. Give at least two weeks’ notice, and more if it is a high-profile or high-visibility position. Analyze the impact of your leaving on the organization, and assess what steps would be needed to ease the transition. Don’t “quit in place” – Do your best work until the very last hour. When “firing” a client, remember that according to every one of your clients, they are your only client. They don’t want to hear about your other clients, or how busy you are, or how you don’t want their work anymore. In my friend’s case, I suggested that she say “I will no longer be providing that particular service, but I have found you someone who does, and who’s work I recommend.” First, it works because it is 100% true, and also because it doesn’t reflect negatively on the client, making it possible to preserve the relationship.

Develop a transition plan. No one knows your responsibilities and your impact on the organization like you do. Think not just about the formal job description, but all the little adjustments you’ve made to improve your work and to make things happen more smoothly and successfully. If you can find a replacement for yourself, that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t happen too often. Instead you can make recommendations for who can take over tasks. Don’t just say you will “sit with them”, but document what you are doing, and treat it like a training, having the new person work on tasks with you. If you don’t have anyone to transfer activities to before you leave, your written instructions will be invaluable to the organization after you’ve gone. Lastly, make sure your transition plan is customer-focused, not just on handing off everything on your desk. My friend had it right when she identified a qualified replacement, planned to work with the replacement on the assignments until the work was being completed to the same quality that she herself had done it. She focused not on when she could stop, but on providing a seamless experience for the customer with no loss of turnaround time or quality.

Prepare your script. Don’t “wing it”. Quitting is a negotiation, just like hiring is. Each party will have their interests at heart and try to get an agreement that meets their needs. You need to have a plan, and prepare a simple script that covers your plans and position. What should be included in your script? First, unless you have done something wrong, don’t apologize for leaving. Approach it as a business decision. Second, let them know how much notice you are giving and what your last day will be. Understand that they will probably want to negotiate the date, so be prepared with your latest possible date. However, be fair but firm – if you need to move on by a certain date, stick to that date. The remainder of the script will describe briefly but with specifics what transition activities you have planned.

Don’t burn bridges. As tempting as it is to tell the company what you really think in the exit interview, don’t do it. If you couldn’t change things while you were there, what makes you think your leaving will make the company “see the light?” Don’t get me wrong – there have been some contracts where I’ve carried the torch all the way up to the edge of the bank. But unless an assessment of some aspect of the organization was your job, they won’t listen anyway, and even if it was, the exit interview is not the place. So bite your tongue, thank them for the opportunities they have afforded, and wish them well. Also, social media is forever – don’t post bad things about your job, or the organization. Don’t post about how glad you are to be leaving. It is OK, however, to be excited about a new opportunity. Just leave the rest out. It’s a small world, and you may need a reference, a job, or a contract from someone connected to the organization in the future. A good professional reputation is priceless, and clients and employers are more likely to rehire and refer people who they like and respect, and who they feel like and respect them in return.

What Is Your Superpower?

SupermanWhile I am fairly certain that you can’t fly, see through walls, or stop bullets, you have a superpower. Everyone has a superpower. In this context, a superpower is a skill or ability that comes fairly naturally to you, that you love to do, and that you regularly apply to solve problems in your life and to make the world a slightly better place.

So what is your superpower? I love this question. I first heard it asked at a conference last year, and it’s come up in my work several times since. Superpowers aren’t grandiose, and most of the time they don’t involve wearing a cape – although I love capes, and if you have one, I encourage you to wear all the time! Superpowers can be quiet or they can be loud. They can be very private, or exercised in public. Discovering and developing your superpower can help you prioritize your goals, find resolutions to issues, and decide what to do next.

Are you saying to yourself “How can I have a superpower? I’m not an expert in anything, I am not a great athlete, and I am just an average person.” Don’t kid yourself. You have a superpower. It just may not be as obvious as Stephen Hawking, Lebron James, or Malala Yousafzai. But you do have at least one, I promise. So how do you find your special superpower?

Start by asking yourself what makes you the happiest. Are you happiest baking for the PTA? Planning conferences? Helping a good friend through a tough time? I know someone for whom mentoring entry-level staff is her superpower, and another for whom it is using her amazing baking skills to cheer up anyone who needs it.

Ask those close to you. Sometimes your friends and close colleagues can see what you cannot. Are you the sounding board they love coming to? Are you someone whom everyone knows they can rely on no matter what? Do your colleagues come to you to sound out a problem or kick around a solution, knowing you will ask the right questions? There are so many ways that superpowers can manifest themselves. It’s most rewarding to find them in the service of others.

What makes you feel most powerful? We do all kinds of tasks in our work day and in our daily life. Think about what tasks make you feel energized, successful, and powerful. Is it helping a young person find their way? Is it successfully negotiating a new contract? Personally, I love public speaking. When I’ve given a successful talk, I feel a couple of inches taller for the rest of the day. I know someone who is a small business coach, and he gets really jazzed when a client’s business meets their goals.

Understanding your superpower is more than just knowing what you are good at. You can be good at something, but not love it. I know someone who is not only an amazing chef, but has top notch kitchen management skills. But she turned down a fantastic job offer from a large hotel chain. While she had the skills to be successful, she didn’t love it enough to commit to the professional kitchen as a career. Conversely, if you love something, you can learn to do it very well without it starting out as a superpower. That’s the best news of all – superpowers can be not only discovered but developed. Your superpowers grow where skills and excitement converge. They are part of our personality and part of our profession. So discovering your superpower will help you discover that unique combination of abilities and enthusiasm that you have to offer your employer, your customers, your friends, and your community.

If it turns out you can fly, can I have a ride?