What’s Your Super Power?

(Listen to this post, here.)

Do you remember your most embarrassing high school moment?

I do. (Mine, I mean – I have no idea what yours was.)

It was 1976 and I was a sophomore trying out for the school basketball team. I was among those “on the line” – not guaranteed a spot, but within realistic reach, assuming many things went in my favor.

It was a four or five day process, during which we ran through all kinds of drills and tests. At the end of each day, the field of players got smaller.

On the third day, the coach introduced “The 6-Layup Test.”

It was simple: There were six hoops. One by one, each kid circled the gym, trying to score a basket at each hoop as quickly as possible. The faster your time, the better you did.

Mine was the third name called. I grabbed the ball, the coach yelled “Go!,” and while everyone else watched, off I went.

First hoop, right in. Second hoop, right in again. Third hoop … missed it.

No problem, try again.

Missed again.

Try again. Missed again.

Keep in mind that I was standing directly beneath the basket, attempting the easiest shot there is. But I kept missing and I could feel the clock ticking.

How many times did I miss? I don’t recall – I was too busy panicking.

I do remember that at one point, the ball bounced off my foot, careened through the open door of the coach’s office, and was temporarily lost among his paperwork and personal possessions.

Eventually, I retrieved the ball (I think it landed in the coach’s trash can), finished the drill, and sat back down.

Like I said, my most embarrassing high school moment. (In case you’re wondering, I never saw day four of tryouts.)

I did learn one important thing from that experience, however: I don’t perform well under pressure.

That’s why I’m not an emergency room doctor.

Or a fireman.

Or a football placekicker.

It’s also why the career I’ve chosen has nothing to do with thinking clearly under pressure (there are few Likeable Expert emergencies).

What’s your super power?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been converting from one credit card acceptance system to another. Very complicated stuff involving my bank, my “merchant account,” and some other pieces that I don’t begin to understand.


I’ve been getting all these emails telling me to cancel this and verify that. And whenever I get one, I forward it to my business manager, Belinda Wasser (AKA, RocketGirl).

This morning, along with the most recent email received, I wrote: “Sorry to be bombarding you with all this.”

She wrote back immediately: “That’s ok – I’ll figure it out. Keep the info coming.”

And that, in four words, is Belinda’s super power: I’ll. Figure. It. Out.

It’s not her project management expertise (of which she has a lot). It’s not the friendly way she treats all of you when you buy a product or attend a webinar (although she’s certainly good at that too).

It’s that when I hand her a big mess, I can just let go and know, without a doubt, that she will figure it out.

What comes naturally to you?

Your super power isn’t your skill set. (That’s just the price of admission.)

Rather, it’s what you do naturally (and often better than anyone else) and that wraps around your skill set.

It’s what truly sets you apart.

For my “tech guy,” Barry Shuchter, it’s the simple, clear, patient way he explains complicated technology options when I ask him a question.

For my friend and expert recruiter, Betsy Harper, it’s the way she can tell the difference – almost instantly – between who’s for real and who’s blowing smoke.

For my friend Marcia, it’s the way she can take a spare piece of wood, a rusty can she found on the beach, and some paint, and turn it into a centerpiece on her dining room table that makes it look like Martha Stewart just left the building (without, by the way, getting any paint on her hands).

Sell your super power

The problem with most super powers is that unlike, say, flying or X-ray vision, the person who possesses it doesn’t always realize how special it is.

It’s hard to detect in ourselves precisely because it comes so naturally and so easily. And so we downplay it, if not miss it entirely.

The thing is, it’s what your clients are really buying. It’s why the ones who love you, love you.

Which means that if you’re not emphasizing it, you’re working way too hard and not taking advantage of the thing(s) that makes you most special in the eyes of other people.

If you really want to stand out, figure out your super power and build your business around it.

Flying optional.

P.S. Not sure what your super power is? Two questions to ask yourself:

  1. What thing(s) do your friends, family, volunteer organizations that you’re involved with, etc., always look to you for first?
  1. What thing(s) do other people seem to struggle with that to you, seem ridiculously obvious or easy?

Discussion Questions:

  1. We’re dying to know … what was your most embarrassing high school moment?
  1. What super power would you like to possess that you don’t already?
  1. Where were you living in 1976? (If you said “heaven,” you may be too young to be reading this newsletter.)

Share your comments below!

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13 thoughts on “What’s Your Super Power?

  1. Barb Johnson

    Loved this edition of the penguins. I don’t like to admit this, but I have very few memories of high school. After all, I’m 84 years old. That was way way back.

    As for super power, it’s one I desperately need and right now! The power to conquer procrastination and get things done–NOW! I just realized today that my favorite word seems to be “later”.

    I was living in Newton, Iowa, a great small town outside of Des Moines.

  2. Charles Alexander

    1) Actually, it was my freshman year of college.

    I went to the restroom, just before history class. After I stepped into a stall I noticed the sweet 80-year-old life-long learning, college student, Martha had come into the men’s restroom! God bless her I thought. She’s just confused.

    As I stepped out to wash my hands, I noticed that this restroom didn’t have any urinals. That’s odd I thought. Why wouldn’t they have any urinana….OH MY GOD! Martha is in the correct restroom, but I’m not!

    As I sprinted out, I noticed there was a flyer on the restroom door covering the WO in WOMEN’S. When I got into my History class, there was this roar of laughter. A couple of my classmates noticed my mistake and instead of getting me, they just told everyone else in the class instead:/.

    2) Time traveling. But I would probably only use it for gambling. Is that wrong?

    3) Nashville. But I was just born, so what do I know.

  3. Tracy

    I don’t remember an embarrassing moment in high school. I can recall a few as an adult. This was a great newsletter and it is really going to make me think. I’m getting ready to retire from my current company that I’ve worked at for 32 years. I’ve had a business for the last 20 year (this January is my anniversary). I would like to do something different and I just haven’t been able to figure it out. The questions asked in this newsletter will help. I’m very organized. It really comes naturally to me. I can put together an event, organize a year worth of meals, on and on. Plus, people call me and ask me to help with those things, so I need to figure out how to make that work after I leave my company this spring. Thanks for helping make it a little clearer.

    In 1976 I was in 8th grade so probably wearing bell bottoms and going to a baseball game or a sock hop or some kind of band event. I was one of those band geeks but loved every minute of it.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      My mother wouldn’t let me wear bell bottoms (don’t ask, I have no idea why either).

      And good luck with figuring out your next step. I’m reading a book called Finding Your North Star by Martha Beck which you might find useful.

  4. Casaundra

    1. um none. My super power is being perfect.
    2. I would like to be invisible. Super handy at times I am sure.
    3. I was in Heaven…..I am a millennial!

    In all seriousness, great article really had me thinking.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      1. Well played.
      2. I think that might be my favorite as well.
      3. Ha, ha, i’m glad you have transitioned to Earth!

    2. Barb Johnson

      Oh, Casaundra, what a great idea! Being invisible. When I was growing up we had a comic strip about a woman who could press a nerve in her left wrist and become invisible! I loved it.

  5. Barb St. Clair

    My most embarrassing high school experience was not making the cheerleading squad my senior year – after I had been a cheerleader for two years.
    I would love to have super powers to play golf even reasonably well…a fun game that I love but it’s a struggle.
    In 1976 I was, and still am, living in beautiful Cape May, NJ after moving here from New England a few years earlier….and all these years later I’m still a Patriots and Red Sox fan. Go Pats!

  6. Grace Kennedy

    My top three embarrassing moments all happened in middle school. Ugh. The one I will share here is the time I did a science fair project using three plants and one control plant. Problem is, I forgot to plant the seeds in the control plant. So I snuck into my science classroom early one morning and secretly planted the missing seeds. It was at this point I realized I would not excel at gardening or science.

    I would love to be invisible because I am endlessly curious about how other people live their daily lives.

    In 1976 I was three years shy of being born. I just learned that this makes me an “Xennial.” ‍♀️

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Ha, ha, yes, science may not be the right field for you, Grace (but maybe politics?).

      I love the clarity of your simple sentence on your web site: “I harness the power of storytelling to bring your mission statement to life.” So simple and clear.

      Xennial sounds like a funky new dog breed!


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