It’s not only fun to talk about super powers, it’s useful. A recent post by Susannah Fox thoughtfully suggests that all of us have a super power in our networks, our communities. Here let’s explore a more traditional (!) notion of superpowers. Each of us has one and perhaps our most important professional responsibility is to identify ours and nurture it.

Deservedly or not, I get questions from many individuals and startups in the health technology world asking me for advice. I’m starting to think that the answer is usually that you must find your super power and your super passion.

To health professionals or students asking for career advice, I try to explain that the secret is to do whatever it takes to follow your passion. Without passion, no job will be will be impactful (or fun) for a sustained period of time. And take a step back to consider: what a privilege to be living in arguably the first time in history when so many of us can choose what we do for a living.

To startups I ask, what problem can you solve better than anyone else can? There are other requirements for a successful business — e.g., are you solving a problem that someone really wants solved, will someone pay for it, is your solution better than currently available solution(s), can you maintain a competitive advantage — but if someone else can do it better, why bother?

We can synthesize the advice to the individual and the startup by saying that each of us, personally and as organizations, should be doing what we are most passionate about and what we can do better than anyone else. What if teachers sought to identify every student’s super power, and curricula were flexible enough to let students learn in the context of their evolving passions? What if continuing medical education included feedback from patients that helped clinicians hone their super power? What if health care delivery systems supported collaboration among clinicians that allowed them to complement each other’s super powers and super passions? What if funders of research and funders of companies sought to maximize the number of people and organizations using their super power to pursue their super passion?

What’s your super power? What’s your super passion?