There’s a saying about cameras:
The best camera is the one you have with you.
Let’s say you own two cameras: a $6500 Nikon D5 and the built-in camera on your “ancient” iPhone 6 (as my daughter calls hers). Today you decided to leave the Nikon at home. Which one is going to take the best picture of that thing that’s happening right now?
Same goes for superpowers, although I need to modify the saying just a bit:
Your greatest superpowers are the ones you intentionally put to use.
All of your superpowers are always with you, but the ones that have the most impact are usually the ones you use proactively and with purpose. Writing is a good example for me. It’s one of my superpowers (it comes naturally to me, I’m better at it than most people, it helps people, and I enjoy using it). Once in a while people ask me to write something for them, such as some copy for an advertising campaign. It’s not a bad use of my superpower, but if I used it only when someone asked me to, that power would create limited and infrequent impact.
However, when I proactively put my writing ability to use every week on my blog, or when I intentionally focus it long enough to write and publish a book, the positive impact becomes much, much greater. It reaches more people, and it affects people more deeply.
An Example of an Intentionally Used Superpower
My friend Adam Schaeuble is a personal trainer who owns a gym in Bloomington, Indiana. His fun, playful, encouraging personality is one of his superpowers. He knows how to help people feel good about themselves, even while they’re struggling to get in shape (I know this firsthand). He’s got a larger-than-life personality, and yet he’s extremely approachable. Adam could easily keep his superpowers limited to his gym and trot them out only when one of his members needed him to.
Thankfully, Adam has intentionally taken his superpowered personality online to help even more people. He conducts fun, free fitness challenges and offers exercise boot camps on his website, produces a fun fitness podcast, and facilitates his free “Defeat The Cheat” Facebook group that I absolutely love being a part of (you can be a part of it, too, FYI).
Your superpowers work the same way. If you use them only reactively or dust them off only when someone asks you to, you’re limiting the amount of impact they can have and the amount of positive change you can create. That would be like owning a Nikon D5 and only using it in automatic mode to take your daughter’s prom pictures once a year. It still takes pretty good pictures, but if you never intentionally take it out of the case, adjust all the settings, and take lots of pictures, you’ll never know what kind of pictures you can really create.
However, if you pull out that camera, use it intentionally, and focus it in a good direction, the pictures can be breathtaking.
I want to see those pictures, don’t you?