What’s Your Super Power? (It’s Probably Not What You Think)

Remember the story of King Arthur? At the start, he’s a nobody. A poor relation tolerated in a noble family, a lowly squire serving the son, Sir Kay. One day when they are staying in London, Kay forgets to take his sword with him and sends Arthur back to the inn for it. The inn is all closed up, but Arthur sees another sword stuck in a stone and brings that instead.

Kay says “that’s not my sword, where did you get it?”

“I found it stuck in a stone,” replies Arthur. “I hope it’s alright.”

Now everyone is down on their knee to Arthur because, as everyone but he knows, the only person who can pull the sword from the stone is the rightful future king of England. Yet to him, pulling the sword out felt like nothing – he just hoped it would be good enough for Kay.

This is often how it is with super powers. I meet many people who can do remarkable things, effortlessly. But it is exactly because they can do them effortlessly that they don’t realise how remarkable they are. With many creative tasks, the better you are at something, the less effort it feels like and the less likely you are to realise that for other people it is very hard, or impossible.

Understanding this apparent contradiction is enormously powerful. There is something you can do, that most people can’t, that can create huge value, with little effort from you. This is the starting point of a very profitable business.

So what is your, or your firm’s, super power? Actually, your chances of answering that question are vanishingly small without some external help. As one of my associates put it brilliantly, “you can’t read the label from inside the bottle.” One of the first things I do with most clients is to help them identify their super powers. From that, many others things flow – better clients, higher fees, less competition. It all starts with understanding your super power.