Last week I attended a Lean Change workshop hosted by my friend Jason Little. It’s one of the best workshops I remember attending. This post really isn’t about the workshop. This post is about one of the first exercises Jason had us doing using Lego Serious PlayTM
In this particular exercise Jason asked us to use the Lego to build something that represented our superpower. I thought about this for about 3 seconds and I simply put the Lego man forward then sat back and relaxed for the remaining 4 minutes and 57 seconds of the exercise. We then introduced the super powers of the person to our right. Aaron who introduced me nailed it … “This is Mike who’s superpower is just being himself…”
That’s it. Nothing elaborate. Nothing fancy. Just me and I love it. My superpower gets unleashed when I’m my most authentic self and stop trying to be something else. The truth is I don’t need to be anything else. Just me.
Society and cultures
For most of my career I was too busy trying to please others that I rarely was just me. Society and corporate cultures are always asking us to be something we’re not. How many times have you been told there’s no place for emotions in the workplace? Or how many processes are in place at your workplace which replace simple human interaction? How many hours do you feel compelled to work each week?
I would deny my own values in the name of getting ahead and pleasing others. I would stay quiet when I heard criticism of things important to me as I didn’t want to create conflict. I would live in my head rather than risk appearing foolish or argumentative. I told people what I thought they wanted to hear rather than what was truly in my heart.
Don’t get me wrong as I was generally happy all those years. I worked really hard for the organizations who employed me over the years. However, what I see now is all of these things lead me to not being me.
I was really good at activities such as status reporting. I know at the time I thought activities such as this were how I was going to get ahead. However the truth is I was denying my superpower. I was busy rushing from one activity to the other. I was busy preparing to gather all the information needed to build the perfect schedule. I was doing lots of busy work trying to get ahead. This whole time though I kept skipping by my superpower which was begging to be unleashed.
I want nothing more than to be seen and known for just being me! It’s like the simplicity of my little Lego man … no fancy structures, hats or capes. Truth is it’s a lot less work just being me, as trying to be something else means I have to work too hard to be that. So I’m going to just be me. If that’s not good enough for someone … then I guess we’re just not meant to be or work together.
What I know is when I am just me there’s so much more that shows up. I am far more powerful and bring so much more to offer the world around me. Kind of ironic isn’t it? We work hard our whole life to be more, and yet I find when I strip all of that away there’s so much more to offer.
Leading for ChangeTM
One of my good friends in life is Don McDougall who is a professional musician and more specifically a drummer/percussionist. Don is truly one of my favourite drummers out there, as you can just see and feel his passion for the work he does. It’s pretty rare to see Don behind a drum kit and not smiling from ear to ear. This passion and smile shows up in the expression of the music he’s making.
Don and his wife recently invited us to attend a Christmas concert one of his students was playing in. The whole concert exceeded my expectations, however what I really noticed is the smile Don’s student always wore a huge smile when behind the kit. Not a painted-on smile because of being on stage, rather a genuine heart-felt smile. When I asked him about it after the performance he told me how Don taught him if you can’t enjoy what you do and smile then you should question why you’re doing it. For this up-and-coming drummer his passion and enjoyment of the work certainly showed up in the concert!
Think about a time you were doing something you were really passionate about. I’m not talking about the tasks you need to do because it’s your job. I mean the things that really light you up and you cannot wait to put down something else to dig into this activity. The type of activity where suddenly you look up and it’s 5pm and time to go home. The type of activity where you can whistle and smile while doing it.
Much like Don and his music I’m willing to bet your level of creativity and passion is much higher when doing these activities. I know for me when I’m doing something I really care about I accomplish far more and am more considerate about the quality of the outcome. Unfortunately not everything I do falls into this category however it makes the mundane stuff OK to get through as I know it’s serving a bigger purpose.
Imagine if every person in your company approached their work in this mindset most days. They can sit there smiling even though they’re not over the moon passionate about it all. How much more would your team(s) accomplish, and more importantly how much happier would they be at work? Imagine the impact this would have on teamwork if they’re all passionate about what they’re doing.
When I let my superpower out I have witnessed the impact to my work. My superpower is just being me. All the wisdom, experiences and skills I bring help me do my work.
What’s your superpower? Imagine what’s possible if you unleash it on the world!