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Mastering The Game Of Business

Claiming your Four Superpowers   

Previously published in NZ Business Review 


For hundreds of years, the Swiss were renowned for their watches. Until 1970 and then it all changed.  That is when Japanese watchmakers changed the game.

Up until the 1970s, the Swiss watch industry had 50% of the world’s watch market.  They enjoyed a centuries-old global dominance with deeply established processes.  Then on 25 December 1969, Seiko unveiled the Astron, the world’s first quartz watch.  The Japanese watchmakers were not held back by the old rules and as a result, by the late 1980’s employment in the Swiss industry had fallen almost 70%.  The Swiss watchmakers learned a painful lesson that whoever sets the rules controls the game. 

You might be wondering what does this mean for me?  Whether you’re a business owner, business leader or manager, to win in the game of business it’s essential that you master your own personal game.

Mastering your personal game

To master any game, whether it be netball, rugby, chess or business, it’s essential that you have full access to your source of power to be alert, energetic and strong.  As obvious as this sounds, where and how do we tap into our source of personal power to face challenges as they occur?  

The answer is surprisingly simple, we all have four fundamental ‘superpowers’

We all have four superpowers yet it’s rare that most people fully access and utilise them.  We have two internal superpowers which are our thinking and our feeling, and our two external superpowers which are our speaking and actions.  It is from these four core ‘superpowers’ that all of our other powers emerge.  

These powers support our thinking, how we process information, create meanings, the decisions we make, and how we take effective action.  In times of pressure and stress, they are even more important as these superpowers drive the results we achieve (or don’t achieve).  

Speaking of action, let’s look at your ‘Inner Powers’

In the private interior of our mind, we think-feel.  Thinking and feeling (emotions) are the central “engine” that drives our reactions and responses.   Most of us believe that thinking and feeling are separate, yet they are not.  They are part of the system where thinking creates emotions and emotions creates thoughts.  This is the ‘thinking/feeling loop’ that we can get trapped in.  Anxiety is a good example of this thinking/feeling trap. 

Check for yourself, are you giving away control of your thinking and feeling powers by allowing others to “make” you feel a certain way?  Do external situations trigger you to react in a way you later regret?  Or do you take full control of your thinking and feeling to stay calm under pressure?  

This one shift of claiming your power of effectively managing your thoughts and emotions can be the difference between surviving and thriving in your business.

Your External Powers

While our thinking and emotions occur inside and can be largely hidden, our other two superpowers are expressed to the world through our speaking and actions.  We use these powers to define ourselves as we move through the day.

We all have the ability to speak and act yet are you fully claiming your powers to serve yourself fully?  Ot are you holding yourself back from taking the actions you know that will help you?  Are you avoiding having the conversations that you need to because you think the other person may react badly?  

If you are, you’re not alone, it’s a common trap a lot of leaders can fall into.  The trap is now you’re taking responsibility for the other person’s thinking and emotions.  Now you’re playing a game of over responsibility.  Although you have a positive reason, the irony is that you are actually dis-empowering the person while being under responsible for your own role, health and wellbeing.  Check, is this your intention?  

Moving to true empowerment 

Claiming your four superpowers and making the decision to take personal responsibility creates a state where you are fully empowered.  “Empowerment” has been a key concept used in business for decades yet often without actually being completely applied.  True empowerment is knowing you have the right and responsibility to act, focusing on creating solutions and making a difference.  

Engage your powerzone

To claim your four superpowers and engage your Powerzone, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Do I recognise my core powers of thinking, feeling, speaking and acting that give me the ability to respond to any situation?
  2. Do I take ownership of what I let into my mind and pay attention to?
  3. Do I fully own my decisions of how I speak and act?
  4. Do I fully accept and own these powers as mine?

Owning your core powers creates your sense of authority and influence that will make a profound difference in all areas of your life and business.  With fully claiming your powers of mind, heart, language and actions then no one can make you think, feel, say or do anything.  You and only you have executive control over your four superpowers.

But I don’t want to be intimidating

A common objection to being empowered is not wanting to overpower or intimidate others.  A risk with this supercharged focus and power is that we can steamroll over anyone who gets in our way.  Results over relationships is an obvious mistake and will cost us dearly.  Knowing the balance between driving for results, valuing relationships and seeing the holistic picture is a sign of a business leader who has learned the importance of playing a team game.

We’ve covered quite a bit about claiming your four superpowers, in a nutshell:

True empowerment leads to a very different set of rules.  Claiming your superpowers leads to you taking control of what you let into your mind, the conversations you have and the actions you take.  It leads to proactively having honest, professional conversations that free up time, develop trust and build your team.

The payoff from claiming your powers is taking control of your life, creating new choices, being clear on where you’re going and backing yourself with 100% conviction.  

All of these are possible, are you deciding here and now to claim them?

Based on the book ‘Games Business Experts Play: Winning at the Games of Business’ by L. Michael Hall.

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