There is a lot of buzz around these days about finding your Zone of Genius. When Gay Hendricks wrote his book ‘The Big Leap’ this concept exploded! Often times, when the latest catch phrase or concept becomes popular it rides a wave of popularity and then slowly dies off. However in this case I don’t think this will happen.
Why? Well, firstly when you think about it operating in your Zone of Genius is the basic human drive to feel connected and fulfilled so there will always be a need and desire to find this Zone. Secondly, each of our zones of Genius looks different. My zone will be different to yours and in fact within my own zone I will be evolving somewhat on a regular basis. In other words my genius at age 30 will be different (whether slightly or vastly) from my zone of genius at age 50.
So this concept and experience is relevant now and I believe will remain so in the future. So how do we get to find our Zone of Genius? I am glad you asked.
I have broken down the concept to suit the parameters of this blog post but would highly recommend reading The Big Leap.
Below is an illustration of the 4 zones in which we can operate. I will briefly go through each one so you can get a feel for each zone and what activities you do that may fit into each.
Zone of Incompetence
This is where you are doing things that you don’t have a good grasp of or skill in. Many people do this better than you. For example I am not good at mechanics nor am I interested in learning about it.
Zone of Competence
In this zone you are average in this task and have satisfactory understanding and skill. Some people are better at it than you are however. Take setting up a Word Press website for example. In my case I know how to do it and am okay with getting it all set up and functioning but there a quite a few people who do it far better than me. I can teach someone how to do this but it would take a concerted effort and is not something that I am excited about.
Zone of Excellence
This is where you are operating at a very high level in terms of skills and expertise. In this zone you have accumulated a lot of knowledge and a set of skills and tools that you know how to use exceptionally well. There are not many people that could do this as well as you. In your area you are seen as being excellent and well above the average.
Zone of Genius
In this zone you are in ‘the flow’. You feel strong, excited and energised and as if you could continue almost indefinitely in the doing of this work. Time almost stands still and you are fully absorbed and utilising not just your skills but the full spectrum of your gifts. There is no one that can do exactly what you are doing in the way you are doing it.
Look at each zone and write down some things, tasks or activities that could go in each one.
Most people are aware of the things they are not good at and usually avoid doing them like the plague. We can also tell when we are doing alright but not setting the world on fire when we are doing satisfactory work on a task.
When we look at the zone of excellence things become a bit blurry and tricky. When we are operating in our Zone of Excellence we are seduced. We are usually getting a lot of praise and good money to do what we are doing. A potent and powerful combination to keep us in this zone and even trick us into believing this is the utopia.
Now if you are happy here (consciously or otherwise) that is a beautiful thing but I suspect you have an inner calling to Do More, Have More and Be More…that my friend is your inner Genius speaking to you. When your Genius speaks to you, you can either ignore it and suffer the consequences like mental, physical or emotional issues or you can take what Gay Hendricks calls ‘The Big Leap’.
Let me use my own story to illustrate. I was well and truly operating in my zone of excellence when I was a teacher, mentor and consultant in the education system. I felt like I was doing excellent work, was frequently praised by all the stakeholders and received good money for doing it. However, I always felt like there was something else, something more. I chose to ignore my genius for a long time until I did suffer the consequences and had mental fatigue, emotional stress and physical burnout.
In hindsight I realised I was utilising my skills to a high level in education but not tapping into my gifts or purpose both of which are the essence of your zone of genius. So I made the decision to quit my job and find out what my gifts and purpose truly were so I could take the leap.
Here are some tips to help you find your zone of genius which I used to get clear.
- When do you feel most alive and energised?
What are you doing? What are you thinking?
What are you feeling? How are you doing this thing?
[Note: This does not have to be work or business related].
- When you are in your zone of excellence when are the fist pump moments where you feel at your finest? What are you doing and experiencing in these times?
- When you join a work or social group what have you just brought to the party that wasn’t there before?
If you have done points 1 and 2 you should see a pattern which will help you understand what your gifts are and what operating in your Zone of Genius really looks like.
The final tip I have is to make sure you are doing this work or cultivating this feeling of strength and fulfilment each and every day. Starting small and increasing this zone of genius bit by bit until you are there almost perpetually. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
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