Hack into your superpowers using soft skills

Image - listen to your higher-self not your chimp
Posted on: Wednesday 01, May 2019
Category: Thought Leadership

This blog explores why it is important to move beyond your comfort zone, pipe down your chimp brain and crank up your soft skills to reach for your higher-self superpowers.

Let’s start with a story

Albert Einstein once said (and I paraphrase), ‘The higher-self is our sacred gift, and the rational mind is the faithful servant. But, we have created a society that only honours the servant and has forgotten the gift!’ 

Einstein’s words are reflected brilliantly in the common idiom, 'speak to the organ grinder, not the chimp'? Here's the story behind that common motto...

The servant is the chimp who is all dressed up, looks cute and dances to the tune grinding out of the organ. The Chimp knows the dance well, gets all the attention, and applause from the watching crowd. So much so, the chimp quickly forgets he is the servant of the master. But, the organ grinder is the master, and it is the master that grinds out the tune, wrote the music, created and built the organ, looks after the chimp’s well-being and deals with the donations. So, the organ grinder remains the master, and as for the chimp? Well, it will always only be just a servant. As with this story, so it is with our own mind too. We can either be controlled by our chimp brain, or we can choose to listen to the wisdom of our higher self instead - it just takes some effort.

Comfort, Fear, Learning and Superpower Zones

I propose that if you want to be the very best version of you; get better results and what you want from life, then you have to choose to take the effort move beyond your comfort and fear zones. That is where your servant chimp brain likes to operate from - but it needs piping down. To do this, you have to crank up your soft skills too by stretching yourself into the learning zone. Both these actions may take a bit of effort but, the end-game it is worth it. That is because, you can then reach for your higher-self – in what I call the superpower zone. At this point, you move beyond being a 'slave' controlled by fate and instead become the master of your destiny. The following infographic summarises this well:

This concept is intelligently played out in the famous scene of the film, ‘The Matrix’; when the protagonist is asked to choose between two pills – the Blue or the Red:

The mediocracy of meh!

“Choose the Blue Pill - you wake up in your bed; you have no control over your life; everything stays the same - nothing changes.”

That’s very much like being trapped in your Comfort Zone; where fear, pain, excuses, past-history, dysfunction and negative mindset keep you stuck from growing beyond the mediocracy of meh!

Bad habits, negative chatter and routine are sticky too and hard to shake off.

It’s also about learning to pipe down the negative yak, yak yak of your inner mind chatter that is created by your chimp brain. For example:

  • I’m a failure
  • I’m not clever enough
  • I’m not worthy
  • They’ll find me out
  • I’m rubbish and no good at anything etc

Recognise any of these? There are many more of these 'limiting beliefs' too.

So, do yourself a favour and stop listening to the fate-based, fear-based habits of your chimp brain servant. Instead learn to become your own organ grinder, the master of your superpowers that lead you to your destiny.

Accessing those superpowers

“Choose the Red Pill – everything changes, and you see how far the rabbit hole goes!”

That’s the same as reaching for your higher-self superpowers by learning to build your soft skills to pipe down your fears and outsmart your negative chimp brain.

Like the notion of the Red Pill, when you start to enter into the learning zone purposefully, everything changes. That is because developing your soft skills improves your confidence too. Along the way, you become highly proactive and you develop a growth mindset. Your language changes to: 

Can do, will do, want to do. 

Watch video of Superpower Zone language in action in the SlideShare (link at the end).

So, soft skills are certainly not fluffy or namby-pamby!

According to Ghost Writer Amy Blaschka, in her most excellent article, ‘Five hard truths about soft skills that might surprise you.’ She argues the following which for the purposes of this blog, I have expanded on and added to…

Soft skills matter a lot

I agree with Amy that they matter a lot and I covered this extensively in a previous blog (see endnotes) - there is a huge amount of research supporting the need for businesses to proactively develop their leaders, teams and people at all levels. Besides, the increasing technological emphasis on AI, machine learning and automation etc. that will continue to eat up many current jobs, meaning that for the business world to earn its lunch, dinner and tea, it will need to focus more and more on the ‘human touch’ and teamwork that soft skills bring. 

Like Amy, I believe too, there is substantial evidence that creative thinking will continue to be a differentiating factor in the new emerging economy and a critical quality too – a soft skill that was poo-pooed a decade ago. Currently, for example, I am finding many more of my clients wanting to explore creative thinking at a leadership team level.

Soft skills will define the future of work

Amy states a fundamental principle that I fully support too; that, at its core, business is about relationships. For some of you more enlightened folks out there, this might sound like, Duh! That’s obvious, but trust me, it’s still an emerging concept for many. Everybody matters, and to succeed, it is essential to learn how to collaborate. Amy goes on to say that, ‘those who find a way to combine their hard skills with soft skills create environments that empower and ignite their teams, delight their customers and fuel sustainable growth.’

The other key consideration is the millennial generation - they will continue to radically change the way we do business. Like it or not this generation is highly influential and demanding a different more collaborative and cohesive way of working; rejecting the old hierarchical structures and old ways of working. Sit up and take note baby-boomers or move over!

According to Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder (2003), he says, in his book, 'The Start-up of You', 'To adapt [a soft skill] in the new economy you will need to change because the people around you are changing, and the world is changing - so it’s inevitable business playbooks will evolve and adapt too'.

So, those who develop their soft skills and access their superpowers will be able to use what Hoffman cites as a superpower - 'the power of IWe' to allow you to move beyond 'survive' to 'thrive'.

We can all continue to improve our soft skills

Back to Amy again. She says, ‘The wisest leaders adopt a growth mindset where they're eager to refine and expand their skill set; they're lifelong learners. They understand that to master soft skills, much like other business knowledge and tools continuous development is necessary. They inject humanity back into business and put people first.’ I think, practised regularly, soft skills give you access to your superpower zone. 

Speaking of your superpower zone...

Top influencers speak about their superpowers a lot

Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Tim Cook and Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn) etc., all speak about their superpowers a lot. I too have been actively pursuing what it means to develop one’s superpowers and how to access them for the last 15-years or so. To me, the expression of your superpowers are when you start to reach out for your dreams and desires more than just going through the motions of living. It’s about a compelling sense to understand and fulfil a core purpose in your life. And discovering how to invent yourself around the very best version of you.  

I was inspired by Oprah Winfrey, who expressed her own take on superpowers superbly in her recent fantastic Apple Keynote speech (March 2019). She said... 

‘There has never been a moment quite like this one. We live in this unique opportunity to rise to our best selves and how we choose to use both technology and our humanity. We are all at a crossroads where we get to decide if we want to reach beyond the borders of our hearts and minds to face the daunting challenges of our times. Each of us comes to this Earth with a deep potential that yearns to be fulfilled with a love to be set free. We all crave connection; we search for common ground. We want to be heard, but, we also need to listen, to be open and contribute and wholly harness our hopes and dreams and heal our divisions.’

High-performance teams access their superpowers too

In my own work, I have been guiding leadership teams to reach for High-Performance Teamwork (HPT) for a while now and it is certainly a superpower in itself. And developing the soft skills necessary to access your HPT superpowers takes effort. It means putting on your big pants and taking responsibility too, building trust, dealing with difficult situations, handling conflict as well as being accountable for your actions and delivering results.  I believe that cohesive, collaborative high-performance teamwork will create those future  'power of IWe' playbooks I mentioned earlier. So, jump into your Learning Zone and start to tap into your superpowers. 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. To learn more, click the image below or here for a short SlideShare to help you to hack into your superpowers using soft skills.  


[1,300 words]

Further reading:

Ten soft skills essential to high performance

Are soft skills the elephant in the room?

Five hard truths about soft skills that might surprise you.’ Ghost Writer Amy Blaschka

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Note on Graphics:

All graphics are creative commons use. Blue and Red pill from the film - The Matrix.

The comfort zone to superzone is my own, adapted from the original source - @thewealthhike


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A brilliant read and much needed after recent experiences. A closed mindset will always dilute and stop creativity, growth, connection and understanding between businesses, workforce and suppliers. I can certainly think of a few that need to put their big pants on!

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