If you had the choice, which superpower would you want to have?
Here are the choices:
Superpower #1: The Power of Flight, like Superman.
Superpower #2: Being invisible – go anywhere, anytime, unseen.
I heard this question asked last year on a radio show, and being invisible won by a landslide. Caller after caller shared the perks of being invisible: “I’d never pay for anything!” “I’d be able to overhear any conversation, so I’d know what my friends really thought of me.” My personal favorite from one caller: “I could see anyone naked.” There was more to being invisible that callers shared, but in the rare event that a small child is reading this (unlikely, since I can barely get any adults to) – I’ll keep it G-rated for now.
The more callers talked about invisibility, the more I started to see a pattern: Being invisible gives us inside information in its purest, un-sugarcoated form, whether it’s wanting to know what the boss is getting paid or peeking at our favorite celebrities in their birthday suits. We love the idea of looking behind the curtain and seeing what really goes on in others’ hearts and minds.
If you were invisible, what would you want to know, if you could? Here’s a thought: You may not need to be invisible to find out the answer. No, you can’t ask your boss about his salary, for instance – but maybe the real reason you want to know his salary is because 1) you don’t feel you’re being compensated fairly or 2) you don’t feel your boss deserves what he’s earning.
Let’s take this example a little further. If you want to know what your boss earns, perhaps what you really want to know is:
- What can I do to increase my own compensation?
- Why do I always feel broke?
- Why do I feel like everyone else has more than me?
- Why am I focusing on my boss so much? Am I envious? Do I think I’m smarter than him?
- Do I wish I were the boss? What would I need to do to make that happen?
- What would happen if I focused more on my own performance?
- When was the last time I asked for feedback?
- How coachable am I? Do I take suggestions well – or do I get defensive or dismissive?
- Do I think things at work are unfair?
The next time you wish you could be invisible, ask yourself if that’s really necessary to get what you want and what’s behind your wish. If you like the idea of being able to never have to pay for anything, maybe you feel a little broke. If you like the idea of being able to find out what people really think of you, maybe you struggle with saying what’s on your mind. And, if your secret invisible wish is to watch your favorite celebrities….enjoy each other’s company….maybe you need a hobby.
As Christopher Reeve once said, describing the ultimate superhero, Superman: “What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely.” Instead of wishing for a superpower like invisibility, what if we simply tapped into our own power, and used that to get focused and clear about what we want (more money, different career, better conversations, meaningful relationships), admit what we want, and take the steps to get what we want. Given the choice, I’d take that over invisibility any day.