What Might Your Headline Say About Your Impact, Superpowers, and Strengths?

Sep 8 / Julie Jones
Do you recognize these individuals from their headlines?   The answers are at the bottom of the post.

  1. Deliberate Leader Balances Needs of Constituents to Form Country
  2. Fastest Man Brings New Meaning to Race
  3. President Prioritizes Nature and Conservation for Self and Country
  4. Revolutionary Beats Shatter Music Industry Norms
  5. History Drove Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust Gridiron Fame

Could you describe who you are and the impact you have made or want to make in a short sentence?
This headline exercise can help separate the mundane tasks required in your job and help better define your impact, superpowers, and strengths. A job title or job description is a narrow definition of what you do, not necessarily how you do it or the impact it makes. As you consider your career ladder or squiggly path, understanding yourself is the first step to finding the right career fit for you. This headline sentence exercise also helps you define your "brand" - how others perceive you and your contributions.    

In their book, The Squiggly Career, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis offer a few exercises to help you expose your strengths. Their method is a four-step process that includes 1) first bursts, 2) natural talents, 3) learnt strengths, and 4) discovering super strengths.  

They describe first bursts as a high-speed strengths exercise where you write down twenty things you are great at in 60 seconds. To complete the first step, they want you to identify three weaknesses you have. If you are like most people, it is easier to identify your weaknesses rather than strengths. But what they recommend next speaks to me -- Take your weakness and convert it into a strength. For example, I can be a perfectionist, constantly tweaking things, especially in presentations or education sessions, to make them better, which can be time-consuming. But if you flip the weakness, the converted strength is a passion for high-quality work and outcomes. Reframing is a powerful tool to help you capture superpowers and strengths. Converted strengths may also be connected to your values -- competence is one of the core values I live by.  

In step two, natural talents, they recommend having a colleague, family member, and friend write down three words that describe you. Drill down and ask questions about why they chose these words. What are the common themes or meanings in these words?  

Learnt strengths are things you have improved at through learning, effort, and practice. In this step, you consider both what you do and how you do it. Some items might be both a what and a how. In many situations, how you do the work takes your strength to a superpower level and differentiates you from others. For example, financial aptitude is a critical skill (what) for many leaders. But leaders who can communicate department or area financial information and connect it to business outcomes in an easy-to-understand way (how) offer an elevated skill set over those who can't.  

Step 4 introduces super strengths - not just things you are good at but, rather, things you are brilliant at. One of these exercises has you prioritize your top 6 strengths and consider their application -- how successfully are you using the strength, how often, how visible is this strength to others, and how happy are you when you use it? Super strengths sit at the intersection of success, frequency, visibility, and happiness -- things that promote impact and satisfaction.  

Why are strengths and super strengths necessary for careers? The Gallup organization, the developer of the CliftonStrengths assessment, has completed research and has shown that employees who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive, and 15% less likely to quit their jobs (Gallup Insights 2015).    

Your headline is usually outcome- or impact-driven, but your complete story will be a mix of the whats and hows  -- skills, superpowers, and strengths. Could you write the story for the famous people listed above -- how were they able to accomplish their feats? Most likely, they were/are connected to their superpowers, strengths, or passions.  

Take time to write your headline and discover more about yourself. What are your outcomes or impact, superpowers, and strengths? Perhaps create several different headlines. Which one of the headlines is most important to you? This writing, editing, and review process can provide more direction for your career path.  

It's never too late to change your headline
-- but it will take some work to figure out and commit the effort to what it can be. Take small steps within your current job for additional experience, consider moving up or laterally within your traditional roles, or pivot entirely for a new purpose or impact.

George Washington
Jesse Owens
Teddy Roosevelt
The Beatles
Woody Hayes 
Achieve youR career goals

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