“Develop MANY superpowers!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Futurist Jim Carroll is running a series that began November 27, 2023, and will end on January 1, 2024 – ’24 Strategies for 2024.’ Rather than running a trend series for the upcoming year as he has previously, this series will examine a number of his personal beliefs on how to best align yourself with the future. There will be a post each weekday, excluding weekends and holidays, until the series runs its course. You will find it on his blog at https://blog.jimcarroll.com, or on the website https://2024.jimcarroll.com
You shouldn’t excel at one thing – you should be capable of many things!
At least that’s my thinking, and it’s strategy #6 on my 24 Strategies for 2024 series.
Where am I going with this strategy? Let’s start with this observation – if you spend any time on LinkedIn, you’ll have noticed that it has become tremendously busy as of late, a consequence of the meltdown of another once-popular social media platform. It’s also kind of a weird place, as people tend to use it to share their key ideas for success and the future or to boast about their success. Spend too much time there and you can easily deflate your ego, thinking that you are not accomplishing as much as other people!
This is particularly true if you follow motivational speakers, leadership experts, or … trends forecasters. If you are like me, you will have noticed an increasing tendency in which many of these people are suggesting that you should focus on ‘finding your superpower,’ the idea seems to be that if you can just double down your efforts at mastering just one thing, you will have found a secret path to success.
What is ‘superpower’ thinking all about? Wikipedia weighs in:
The concept of developing a “superpower” in the areas of leadership, speaking, human resources, and motivation seems to be a trend. This idea involves identifying and enhancing a specific skill or quality that can set an individual apart in their professional role. For example, some of the suggested leadership superpowers include compassionate curiosity, the ability to articulate and clarify one’s own wants and needs, sustainability, and the ability to motivate for short-term goals.
The industry in which I work regularly promotes the idea of superpowers, with many motivational speakers building an entire keynote around their own ‘superpower,’ and using the stage to inspire and motivate others to find their own. They suggest that you should just show passion for a topic or skill to master it; or enhance your internal confidence, with the idea that the simple process of believing in yourself will excel you to excellence, or that mastering communication skills is all you need to get by. Success – it’s simple! Find your superpower and exploit it! Focus on your superpower, and you will master it tomorrow!
I’m not a big fan of this type of thinking, particularly given the complexity of the world around us; indeed, I think you should focus on having many ‘superpowers,’ or even many ‘super-micro-powers,’ as it were. Indeed, I wrote about this some months back when I suggested that “You should always have too many interests and not enough time!”
Sure, “superpowers’ might exist in some particular skill niches – piano virtuosos for example, or other artistic, sports, or niche areas of knowledge. But developing superpowers through a concentrated effort? The idea might be supported by anecdotal evidence or observations of successful leaders and managers who have demonstrated exceptional abilities – but to be honest, there’s no real evidence that if you just concentrate enough you can find and develop your own superpower.
I believe that you either have it or you don’t, and you could spend a lot of time chasing a superpower while you could be more wisely investing that time in developing many different skills – and hence, many different ‘superpowers.’ That means focusing on the idea of multipotentiality. Once again, Wikipedia weighs in:
A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. Multipotentialites have no one true calling the way specialists do.
Or, as my wife said, “a jack of all trades, a master of none.”
What is common to multipotentiality? Going back to my earlier post:
It seems they are relentless in learning — new knowledge is the process, and new experience is the goal. They have excessive levels of creativity, often combined with a lack of focus. Exploration and curiosity are the foundation for a new world — today is just a stepping stone into a different tomorrow. They are often told by others that they should conform, align to expectations, not deviate from a path, and be like everyone else — but the simple fact is — they cannot. They often suffer from a deficit of attention and focus that is sometimes diagnosed. They believe that learning new skills is more important than mastering one skill. They don’t usually fit well into existing careers and structures! The boredom of routine is deadly, and there is little patience for structure.
Think about the world around you today and into 2024. We are surrounded by the acceleration of new knowledge and new ideas; new trends and opportunities; new business models and radical forms of thinking; and new technologies and concepts. There is so much to learn, so much to explore, and so much to master. Immerse yourself in many different things to figure out how to get by, rather than spending your time trying to master one thing – because our world is too complex to narrow and limit our thinking!
Don’t chase your superpower – chase many superpowers, even if you master none of them. That’s been my strategy in the past and will continue to drive what I do through and into 2024.