Today in the Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab Brené Brown discussed the definition of meaningful work—meaningful work as it relates to our personal gifts and nurturing our true selves. She encouraged us to think about our gifts as superpowers and to ask ourselves the question—What is it that I think I am really good at doing?
I have to be honest, I find the concept a bit prickly, just like that wool sweater you keep hidden away in the back of your closet because when you wear it, you pull it away in discomfort. Even writing this post about it makes me squirmy. I’ve got nothing. I’m not confident enough to own my own superpower.
So I asked my husband what he thought. I needed a starting point, some inspiration. He stood thoughtfully for a few moments and came up with Tornado Woman: Everything you try to achieve gets done. He described it like a swirling windstorm of activity with me as the conductor at its centre.
When he said it, I nodded and admitted I could see it like that too. I am that person. Or rather, I was that person. The thing is, it was that very windstorm that led to my undoing. Certainly it isn’t the personal gift that has helped me rise to the occasion and nurture my true self. I used to be good at juggling a lot of balls. I gave that up months ago.
So I’m back with nothing.
But here is a theory. An honest admission.
Brené argues that just as we all have a superpower, so do we have a kryptonite and I have a hunch that mine are integrally linked. I think my superpower is offering comfort to others, for the very basic reason that I seek it so intensely myself.
This realization runs very deep. I think it reaches back to the loss my mother at such a young age. Having enjoyed the comfort of a mother’s loving arms for such a short time, I’ve spent many years searching for a replacement. I never felt this more acutely then when I faced my deepest inner turmoil this past year. But it started even before that. When I had my boys, it was my undoing. Suddenly I recognized the feeling of a loving mother’s arms, but in a cruel and wondrous twist of fate, the emotions were reversed. I understood for the first time what I had lost by offering that very thing to my boys.
In the Gifts of Imperfection, Brené argues that “if we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feelings of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear and even grief.”
I’ve lived this. I felt it in the deepest, darkest recesses of my soul. I’ve craved comfort for so long. The loving arms of one who loves me for nothing more than just being. And so I believe my superpower has become offering to others what I lost many years ago.
I believe this is true, and to be completely honest I’ve only just worked this out now. More pieces falling into place. But as perfect as this fits, I’m having trouble owning it. I need to sit with it a bit.
Have you ever thought about your own superpower? Are you willing to own it? What would it mean to you? Are you cultivating it in your life?