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Something Inspiring: Superpowers

{Something Inspiring is a series of short essays that highlight an article, photo, or video that inspired me. Enjoy!}

Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing many talented writers. In most of my interviews I ask the following question:

“Everyone has unique skills; skills that I call superpowers. What is your superpower?”

While Logan and I were prepping dinner last night we talked about this question. I was cutting up fresh tomatoes for the gnocchi and I asked Logan, “In your opinion, what’s my superpower?”

He grabbed a slice of tomato, popped it into his mouth and said, “You have exceptional, fantastical note-taking skills.”

I giggled and replied, “I think you are right. It’s a result of all the traveling I did in California.”

For a few years I worked for a research firm in Sacramento and had the opportunity to participate in qualitative research projects. One of my favorite projects required traveling all over California to do in-person interviews at domestic violence and rape crisis centers. I loved the project and the victim advocates I met throughout the state.

During the interviews I asked very specific questions and eventually I got to the point where I could take verbatim notes while talking to an advocate. I’m not sure how I’m able to do this so well. I think it’s a combination of good listening skills and the ability to type very quickly.

Luckily, this skill has resurfaced during the last few months because I’ve been interviewing people for my book. I’m a little rusty, but I’m thankful for my ability to record conversations in the moment.

Earlier this morning, I culled through some of my past interviews and gathered a few of my favorite responses to the superpower question. I hope these responses inspire you to keep doing exceptional work.

“I think my superpower is adaptability. I love change, and adjusting to new circumstances on the fly. I think that’s why I enjoy travel (and moving) so much! I’ve always wanted to be like a Bond girl – not the ditzy ones, but the nuclear-physicist-by-day, karate-black-belt-by-night ones. They always adapt to any circumstance – outrunning assassins on skis, trekking across a desert, or scuba diving in shark-infested waters – without so much as a hair out of place. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it.” -Francine Jay

“I have dedicated a lot of my life to debunking the conventional wisdom in economics and communicating my ideas to people with as much elegance as I can create, especially through the written word.” -Juliet Schor

“Spotting significant trends and inflection points early. It’s a combination of being a good marketect and instigator in one. The combination has allowed me to arrive early, define something, and have a great seat from which to make trouble.” -Lisa Gansky 

“I’ve been playing bluegrass guitar for 36 years. I also have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and have practiced Zen meditation for many years.” -Chris O’Byrne 

Tell me about your superpower in the comments section or join the conversation on Google+

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Deb Weaver September 29, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I think my superpower would be the ability to make others feel welcome and accepted with warmth and enthusiasm.

  • Ryan September 30, 2011, 9:53 am

    Oddly enough, to focus in spite of great stress – that would be mine. Some of my best personal achievements have come about when my life has been chaotic.

  • Andrew September 30, 2011, 7:08 pm

    My ability to fix and fabricate. It’s handy sometimes.

  • Maggie October 1, 2011, 8:24 am

    What a great question! In my opinion, everyone has at least one thing at which they shine. Sometimes these qualities are evident to others; oftentimes, it takes getting to know someone before their greatest gift is revealed. Anyway, I enjoyed thinking about this question and applying it to my own life. Though it seems to change (evolve?) as I go through life, my current “superpower” is in finding the good in everyone I meet. It’s so easy to find fault and complain about people, but it takes grace, perspective, and acceptance to truly see each human being as valuable and lovable in some way. Thanks again for challenging us to think! 🙂

    • Tammy Strobel October 1, 2011, 8:26 am

      @Maggie – That’s a wonderful superpower! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Jt Clough | Big Island Dog October 1, 2011, 8:46 am

    My superpower is the ability to see people’s personality and what they need while in the midst of the their dog’s needs (while I have my dog training hat on). I’ve always been good at watching and listening and seeing what the real issues are underneath all the loud barking/chattering/complaining. It is usually fear.

    My superpower is finding what to focus on to bring confidence out; the positive side even when traditional communication can’t be used to lift the veil of fear in the respective life viewer lens… 4 legged or 2 legged. It’s a feeling, an emotion that comes out.

  • Mike | Homeless On Wheels October 2, 2011, 12:58 pm

    My “superpower” is of a practical variety. I have a natural ability to relate to machines and technology, enabling me to troubleshoot and repair almost anything. Humans, on the other hand, I don’t as readily understand.

  • Tess The Bold Life October 3, 2011, 7:32 am

    My super power is my wisdom and insight. When I worked as a therapist this really helped clients. Now I use it and follow it myself. It’s helped me be the person I am today. Can’t wait for your book to come out.

  • Brittany October 3, 2011, 3:51 pm

    I have two super powers. :o) The first is that if there has ever been a power outage during the night, I have always woken up to discover it and am able to either reset my clock alarm or set an alarm on my phone so that I do not miss work/school. I always wake up right after the power outage has happened or right before my scheduled time to get up.

    My other super power is perfect layering for outdoor activities. No matter what the weather conditions or outing, I can manage to pull off an outfit that will not leave me too hot or too cold.

    Okay, kind of random super powers, but I have always considered those my two. Everyone else has a little bit more caring answers than I do. ;o)

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