How to claim your superpowers

We are SO BAD at claiming our strengths and talents. In Aotearoa New Zealand we have this on a range of levels:

  • Tall poppy syndrome (pull down who’s reaching higher than the rest
  • Kaua te kūmara e kōrero ki tana reka (the kumera doesn’t speak of its own sweetness)
  • Just generally being up yourself, full of yourself, big head, fathead, show off
Let's put away the scissors.

The power of a thank you

Society has many ways to stop us from comfortably saying, I’m good at [insert superpower here].

But our strengths and talents are the foundation of our growth. They’re our launchpad, our leverage. Owning them is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done!

I remember a lesson I had as a young woman, being taught how to receive a compliment. When someone compliments us, our most natural thing to do is to brush it off, deny it, minimise it, like this:

  • I was just doing my job
  • It wasn’t anything special
  • Anyone would have done the same
  • It was nothing

But I was taught, by a wise woman, to simply say, Thank you.

Smile, bite your tongue, grit your teeth against the discomfort, and just accept the compliment.

Thank you.

Now, 30 years later, I reflect and realise that was one of the foundations of my ability now to acknowledge what I’m good at.

You are a taonga, a treasure of value

There have been other influences along the way, like the boss who would koha or “gift” me to other teams or projects because, Shelly can write that for you, or, Shelly can facilitate that process, or, Let’s have Shelly run that workshop.

She believed in me. She treated me like a taonga, a treasure of value.

Or there are all those times people have complimented or thanked me.

For years I kept a folder in my emails called WARM FUZZIES. Everytime someone thanked or praised or appreciated me, I filed that email in there – ready to be revisited on a low day.

Now here’s the thing

I could still have bowed down to the societal pressures and those awful voices in our heads and let ALL THAT EVIDENCE that I’m talented just fade out of my memory.

I could have written it all off.

But I’ve learned over the years to gather all that evidence, put it on steroids, and put it to work for me.

I can live for two months on a good compliment - Mark Twain

So anytime I’ve been scared to claim a talent, to sell my abilities, I’ve gone back to my metaphorical filing cabinet of evidence, and pulled out some pieces to help me feel confident again.

I’m about to walk onto a stage in front of 350 people to MC an event? I pull up the time last year when a kind gentleman told me I was “the human glue of the conference.”

Worried that I can’t hold my own when pitching a proposal to an executive leadership team or board? I pull up my Gallup Strength results that say my number one strength is WOO – Winning Over Others.

I could go on.

Why we need to be a little brave

So here’s the thing about being able to say, I’m good at X.

The strongest people I know can do it.

The most powerful people I know can do it.

The most self-aware people I know can do it.

This is not a dichotomy – you don’t have to choose between being humble or being an egomaniac.

You can be a humble person who acknowledges their imperfections, how much they still have to learn, and how amazing other people are, while also acknowledging:

  • X is one of my superpowers
  • I’ve got a lot of experience in X
  • X is in my wheelhouse
  • X is my jam
  • I have a strength in X

For me, those sound like:

None of those are facts in relation to anyone else. They’re not comparisons that mean “better than.” They’re not me showing off.

It’s just being honest. And a bit brave.

Owning your story is the bravest thing you'll ever do - Brene Brown

Because anyone who knows me would say that all of those things are true. I do no favours for myself or anyone else if I deny that.

Say it with me, I’m good at [insert superpower here]

Maybe right now, think of one thing you’re good at.

One thing.

Own that superpower today. Both internally and out loud.

And see how you feel different because of that.

And give yourself permission to act differently because acknowledging your skills and talents makes you feel more powerful.

And finally, m’love, what can you do with that power?

Darling, just fucking own it.

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