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Before starting my new job two months ago I did a self-assessment to establish the image I wanted to portray at my new employer. As I thought about the impact I wanted to make, the highly coveted Super Recruiter Action Figure, popped into my mind. (Trust me. It was a big deal to have one back in the day.) Tucking away the overwhelming bias that “Recruiter” is the best profession, I grudgingly accepted that any employee can be a Superhero. Then, I made a list that will help anyone who suffers from the misfortune of not having their own action figure.
1. Wear a unique costume or uniform.
Last year I read a story about Matilda Kahl, an Art Director, who three years earlier had opted to wear a white silk shirt and black bottoms to work EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Choosing to wear the same outfit every day saves her time, is empowering, and is one of the ways she has taken back control in the workplace. You may not want to adopt that rigid of a work uniform. But, whether you opt for business suits, khakis and polo shirts, assorted cardigans, a signature hairstyle, sport a “No-shave November” year round, or adorn yourself with a particular accessory; just let your individual, distinctive style shine through.
2. Have a secret identity.
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With few exceptions, fictional superheroes like to keep their true identities a secret. My friend has a five year old daughter who speaks her mind with self-assured confidence. After a chain of late evenings in the office, she was exuberantly greeted at the door and the following exchange took place.
Five Year Old: “Mom, you have the mostest importantest job in the world!”
Friend: “No, honey, it’s really not that important.”
Five Year Old: “Momma, taking care of us…that’s what I’m talking about.”
In case you don’t have a child to remind you, make sure that you have something outside of work that gives us a sense of purpose, and reveals your true identity. A superhero knows that a job is what you do and a secret identity is who you are. Don’t let your job be the only thing that defines you.
3. Identify and defeat your nemesis.
All superheroes have a nemesis or Achilles heel to battle. To paraphrase my BlogFF’s son, a nemesis is someone or something that has the ability to defeat you. Superman has Kryptonite. Wonder Woman has Ares, Cheetah, and Circe. Some of us battle procrastination. There are various reasons employees procrastinate. Some are lazy and can’t manage their time wisely. Others enjoy the rush of beating a deadline at the last possible moment. Equip yourself with weapons to be victorious against whatever it is that deters your progress and gets you off track.
4. Have a #Squad.
The Super Friends, The Avengers, The Justice League, Suicide Squad, X-Men, and other super alliances are proof that collaboration can yield greater reward. It’s been my experience that employees who achieve great things in the workplace tie their success to other people. Your squad should be comprised of other superheroes with whom you can share and exchange knowledge, whose strengths compliment your own, with whom you’ve built trusting relationships, who encourage you to take greater risks, and who always have your back.
Lastly is the key ingredient.
To be a Superhero Employee you must have a superpower.
You can embody all of the characteristics listed above but won’t reach superhero status without the last one. If superhero status is a goal, ensure that your employer and your job compliment the exceptional skills and abilities you possess. Go forth and be a Superhero Employee.
Decide on a uniform.
Maintain a secret identity.
Work hard to ensure the times your nemesis beats you are few and far between.
Support collaboration with your colleagues.
Exploit your superpowers.