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Unlock Your Inner Superpower: How to Identify Your Unique Skills and Put Them to Work

Unlock your skills

The future of #security is rapidly changing, and the pandemic has only accelerated the pace of that change. The old rules no longer apply as people seek #flexibility and work-life balance. It's no longer enough to rely on a single source of income. With the gig economy and side hustles becoming more mainstream, leveraging your best skills and having multiple income streams is now critical to financial stability. Today's workforce is diverse and multifaceted, and people are no longer limited by traditional career paths. It's time to embrace the new era of work and explore the possibilities that come with leveraging your skills and talents.

Experts come in all shapes and sizes

There’s a belief that you need to have 20 years of security experience under your belt to be an expert. Not true. Expertise is not necessarily defined by the amount of time spent in the industry, your number of degrees, your #CPP or other certifications earned. While these things can certainly add to one's knowledge and skillset, they are not the only factors contributing to expertise.

In fact, some of the most innovative and successful professionals in various fields have come from non-traditional backgrounds, with unique perspectives and approaches that set them apart from their peers. Your IT and technology skills can be important to cyber and network teams. Marketing and communications professionals may be the key to effectively promoting company security policies and processes. Project managers bring important skills involving managing resources, time, and budgets for security projects, such as implementing security systems or conducting risk assessments.

Consider the story of Howard Schultz, Starbucks's former CEO and chairman. Schultz started his career in the Xerox Corporation in sales and marketing and later worked for a Swedish company called Hammarplast, which sold kitchen equipment. He was hired by Starbucks in 1982 as the director of retail operations and marketing and was inspired by the coffeehouses he saw during a trip to Italy. He believed coffeehouses could become a "third place" for people to gather and socialize beyond work and home. He convinced the owners of Starbucks to test his idea in one of their Seattle stores, and it was a success. Schultz eventually bought out the owners and became the CEO, and under his leadership, Starbucks grew from a small chain of stores in Seattle to a global brand with thousands of locations worldwide. Schultz's background in sales and marketing and his passion for creating a unique customer experience helped him repurpose his skills into the coffee industry and become an iconic innovator.

Dismiss impostor syndrome:

This is the gnawing feeling of self-doubt, incompetence, and the dread of being exposed as a fraud. Don’t go here; it may feel like a reality, but it's really a confidence issue. You have skills; identify, refine, and put them to work. This fear you are feeling can be a strong indicator that you have the skills and are ready to put them to work – because you know what it takes and recognize that not everyone can do what you’re about to do. You’re the expert.

Take Maya Angelou, for example; the famous poet and author once said, "I have written eleven books, but each time I think, 'uh oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out.'" Despite her incredible success, Angelou struggled with impostor syndrome. However, she pushed past those feelings and continued to create amazing works of literature that have inspired millions.

Or U.S. Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps General James Mattis. In his book "Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead," Mattis describes his feelings of inadequacy when first appointed General. Despite his years of experience and numerous accomplishments, he felt he was not qualified for the job and feared that others would soon realize this. It wasn't until he gained confidence through his successes and by surrounding himself with trusted advisors that he overcame these feelings and became a successful leader.

Experts are not perfect, and neither are you – but it's ok

All experts have made mistakes. And all experts learned from these mistakes. This is how you identify your most sought-after skills. Home in on your biggest failure, and you might come up with your greatest asset. Be honest with yourself. You're great at things, but not all things.

It's well known that Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, was fired from his own company in 1985. However, Jobs used this experience as a learning opportunity and went on to found NeXT, which was eventually acquired by Apple, and helped transform the company into the tech giant it is today.

So how do you become an expert?

Try things. Fail. Learn from your mistakes. Listen. Learn. Be humble. Be a sponge. Surround yourself with experts. And find your superpower.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and several other successful companies, has often cited his ability to learn quickly and his willingness to take risks as his superpower. He has surrounded himself with experts in various fields and has a relentless desire to push the boundaries of what's possible, which has led to many of his most successful ventures.

What is your superpower?

It can be hard to identify, but it's worth taking the time to figure it out. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, do what feels effortless and focus on what you do that amazes others. Think about what makes you willing to sacrifice and when you are fearless. Identify the things you see more clearly than others.

Marvel has written genius stories and developed a brand around lovable and demonizing characters and their superpowers. Spider-man: shoots webs, Black Panther: Enhanced senses/magical resistance, Iron Man: Genius-level intellect, Hulk: Strength. Without their special powers, there is no story.

In real life, there are countless success stories where people capitalize on their own #superpowers. Oprah Winfrey's superpower is her ability to connect with people on a deep level and create a sense of community. She has used this skill to build a media empire that includes a television network, a magazine, and various other media properties.

Once you have identified your superpower, it's time to get out there and spread your knowledge. People need what you have to offer; monetize your skills and put them to work. Share your failures and how you overcame your greatest challenges. This is a framework that validates you as an expert. There are companies and people who need your expertise so they can be more productive, more precise, more effective, and accomplish their goals faster.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, used his expertise in e-commerce to create a platform that has revolutionized online shopping in China and beyond. He has since become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, and his expertise has helped countless other businesses succeed as well.

The examples of these iconic people should serve as inspiration rather than an unrealistic standard to live up to. You don’t have to be Elon Musk or Jack Ma to be successful. Success comes in many forms and is different for everyone.

Find your niche and trust your network

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key to finding your niche. Being honest with yourself is the first step. Finding trusted people who can support you and vouch for your skills and character is also important. These people can include mentors, colleagues, customers or other well-known industry professionals who know you well and are willing to give you honest feedback.

This strong support network can give you the confidence to pursue your goals and take risks, knowing that you have people in your corner who believe in you. They also become your sounding board and provide valuable feedback to help you improve and grow.

We all have our own unique skills and talents that we can use to create success on our own terms. It's about identifying those skills, refining them, and finding ways to apply them to bring us fulfillment and satisfaction—and taking the leap!

Be an Expert – and Thrive!

In today's rapidly changing work environment, the opportunity exists to leverage your unique skills and not be defined by traditional career paths or your number of years of experience. Imposter syndrome is a confidence issue, and everyone, even the most successful people, makes mistakes. Put yourself out there, try new things, fail, and learn from your mistakes. Embrace the new era of work and explore the opportunities that come with leveraging your skills and talents. Unlock your inner superpower and put your skills to work.

Author: Steve Lisle, is the Founder and CEO of effortlo - Where companies can Get an Expert in the security industry through the only technology-enabled solution where “any validated” security expert can discreetly promote their skills.


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