Why Discovering Your Ordinary Superpowers is One of the Most Important Things You Can Do as a Leader

By Mark Henson

There was a time I chose the wrong path – the “leadership path.” It was one of the worst mistakes I ever made. Let me explain.

Prior to starting my own company, I was a copywriter for a large branding and design firm. I loved my job, the company I worked for, and what I got to do every day. I spent my time exploring new ideas, simplifying things, and communicating ideas through writing. Even though I didn’t exactly know why, I knew it was the perfect job for me. I even entertained fantasies of someday retiring from that company.

The only flaw in the company was that there was only one way to advance in the company. To rise in position, money, and influence, you had to be on the leadership path. The leadership path started with becoming a project manager, then a team leader, then a department head, then a part of senior management.

I was young and ambitious, so of course I wanted to advance. I begged to become a project manager for months. The day finally arrived when they handed me my very own project to manage. I thought I was on my way to running the entire company someday…until I realized that I hated project management. Not only did I hate it, I was horrible at it. And not only was I horrible at it, I quickly realized deep in my bones that I would never like it or be good at it.

Jumping on the leadership path took me off the path that I really enjoyed, a path where I performed my role extremely well. But the leadership path was the only path forward…or so I thought.

I eventually left that great company (which I still respect and admire) and founded my own company. The irony is that when you start your own company, you have to do pretty much everything at first, including project management. I did get a tiny bit better at project management over time, but I happily delegated that role to others as soon as I could.

Fast-forward seventeen years. I’m now spending most of my time exploring new ideas, simplifying things, and communicating ideas through writing and speaking (the same skills I used and enjoyed so much in my former job).

I call these my Ordinary Superpowers. Ordinary Superpowers are the talents and skills you possess that create the most positive change in your life, the lives of others, and the world around you. You’d think powers like that would jump out at you and be obvious. But here’s the thing: BECAUSE these talents are so strong in you, you take them for granted. You don’t realize how special they are. You don’t know the impact they have. To you they feel, well, ordinary. But they’re not. Not by a long shot.

What do you think is more important in this life, pursuing the leadership path or pursuing your Ordinary Superpowers?

If I had continued to pursue the traditional leadership path, I may have forsaken my Ordinary Superpowers even longer, maybe even forever. Now they’re enabling me to contribute at my highest levels, help the most people, and gain the most fulfillment from my work.

Here’s the good news: Ordinary Superpowers and leadership are not exclusive. You don’t have to choose one or the other. In fact, the more you recognize and maximize your Ordinary Superpowers, the more you’ll understand how they can help you and others on your leadership journey.

Do you know what the irony is now? Because I have consistently used and improved my Ordinary Superpowers over the years I am considered a leader in what I do. And, yes, I still stink as a project manager.

If you’d like to discover your own Ordinary Superpowers, I created a guide for you called The 5 Questions That Reveal Your Superpowers.


Mark Headshot 0915Mark Henson creates spaces, experiences, and ideas that help people get fully engaged with life and work. His latest retreat, The Superpower Summit, is a full day, immersive workshop that will help you Discover, Activate, Enhance, and Multiply your Ordinary Superpowers. He is the founder of sparkspace….a unique and exceptional business retreat center in Columbus, Ohio. His first book, Ordinary Superpowers, will be published in March of 2017.










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