In order to succeed in today's economy you need to be able to leverage your super powers. You have to stand out from everyone else. When you are using your super powers you are energized, willing to work harder (because you like what you're doing!) and stand out from others as you leverage what you're better than other people at.
As jobs are cut, companies look to automate work and we shift more to a technological revolution (and out of the industrial revolution) it's critical you find your super powers and OWN them. When working in a factory or an office job that acts like a factory you are essentially a commodity. Do this. Do that. Come back tomorrow and do it over again. The world is shifting away from this type of and you need to strive to NOT be perceived as a commodity. You must be different.
There is a transition going on because schools are still setup more to prepare people to work in factories. You are taught standard skills. The exams are literally called "Standardized Tests". You are not tested on creativity. You are not tested on ingenuity. You are not tested on your leadership. You must break out of what school has taught you and realize the "Real World" is now different.
Here is a step by step guide to find your superpower(s) and a path to ensure you leverage them in your career.
What do you Naturally Like Doing?
What did you do as a kid for fun? Build things? Organize friends to do stuff? Draw? Work with electronics? I know when I was a kid I used to go to the corner market to buy candy for 50 cents and then walk to the playground and sell it to my friends for $1. I liked finding opportunities and making the most of them. Makes sense that I am in business and also like doing entrepreneurial things. You can often find a seed of what you intrinsically enjoy doing by looking at what you enjoyed doing as a kid.
Figure Out How to Turn That Into a Career
So this is the hard part. It can be solved though. The key is to be open minded about how to transition what you like to do and are good at into a more formal career. The biggest challenge here is coming to the realization that not EVERYTHING you do in your career will be fun and there are often things you need to do to prepare yourself to be successful at that career. For example, if you really had a passion for building things as a kid, then you might need to go to engineering school to become an expert at doing that. For me, I went to business school......twice! You have to learn the trade and become an expert in that space, which takes time. Often it takes many years. Most people give up along the way to do something easier. The key is figuring out the path you need to take and then sticking to it.
When You Are on the Path You Stick With It and Share Your Vision
People get on the right path and then see shiny objects. More money. A promotion to management. A new company that wants to stretch you. You think to yourself that these are opportunities that you can't pass up, but you then get away from your true superpowers. Is managing people your super power or is building a new device your super power? You then are in the industry where you COULD stand out, but you are no longer in the right role.
Another trap is not sharing your superpowers with your management. It might be a little different from what is standard for the company, so you just keep rowing doing what is expected. No need to rock the boat. Sharing what you REALLY want to do could be risky because management would think about you differently. It takes a lot of courage to do this and you also need to understand the lay of the land. If you are a consultant and tell management you want to play professional soccer, then that's not going to go well. If you are a consultant in the manufacturing space but have a deep passion for technology, then it's not too crazy to ask to be transferred to the technology group. Many people don't make that request though because everything is "fine". You need to push for more than "fine".
At P&G I was in a traditional business for 7 years learning the core skills of brand building. I have a passion for digital, innovation and entrepreneurship though. I did some of that in my traditional role, but I wanted to do way more of it. I was worried that if I asked for it, then I would then be removed from the traditional group and I'd be on an island by myself. Would they not want me around anymore? Would I be seen as less than? I ended up telling them that's what I wanted and my career has taken a totally different trajectory.
I was moved to a digital group that was not seen as highly as people in the traditional business. I learned SO MUCH though in this new group. I took hundreds of hours of digital classes and soon became a digital expert. That opened the door for me to move to the P&G Ventures group where I am starting new businesses. EXACTLY what I wanted to be doing.
All situations are different, so you definitely need to think about what you really want and the best path for you. If you feel good about that path you have to go for it. You spend too much time at work to just be "fine". There is a better way. That way does require hard work and courage though!
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