The ‘Zone of Genius’ is a term initially coined by Gay Hendricks in his excellent book, The Big Leap, and refers to the place we’re in when we’re doing the work we love the most, that comes easily to us and makes us fly.
It also is where people respond most to what we do or create – the really juicy stuff that sets us apart from everyone else….
…and we all have one!
It’s a great place to work from, so I’m exploring what your genius zone is, how to find it, and how to spend more time there.
Let’s dive in! Watch the video above, or you'll find the transcript below.
The Zone of Genius is a term coined by Gay Hendricks in his wonderful book, The Big Leap.
If you haven’t already, I really recommend reading it – it’s an insightful book that could massively change how you look at your business and what you do in life. And I’m going to bet that you’ll immediately get this concept of the ‘Zone of Genius’ even if you haven’t come across this term before.
We feel differently when we’re doing different types of tasks. We’re stronger at some than others.
Gay Hendricks categorises these into four different areas.
There’s the Zone of Incompetence, which is how it sounds – it’s the stuff you’re not great at!
The Zone of Competence, which is the stuff you’re fine at. You do it as well as just about anybody else.
Your Zone of Excellence, which is the stuff you are very good at. You might have trained in these tasks – they might be something you’ve done for years. You’re better than most other people at doing them, however, they don’t necessarily make you fly or light you up.
That’s your Zone of Genius.
You recognize your zone of genius as being those tasks that really energise you, that make you feel good when you’re doing them, and time feels like it just disappears. They’re a delight to do and you’re exceptionally good at doing them.
The zone of genius tasks are the ones that we’re put on this earth to do.
If we could all spend more time in our zone of genius, the quality of what we put out into the world, the impact we make in the world will be far, far greater than if you’re stuck in your zone of competence or your zone of excellence.
Now, there’s a school of thought that you should train yourself up to be better at the things that you’re not very good at.
I think that’s nonsense!
Yes, you need to function in the world so there’s some things you must be reasonable at, that you need to learn how to understand or do.
But when it comes to your genius zone, when it comes to the things that make you fly, why not spend your time learning how to be exceptional at those things? Why not put your effort and energy into those?
Those tasks that you’re not that great at will be someone else’s genius zone. There’ll be someone else who loves doing those tasks in the same way that you light up when you’re in your genius zone.
Here’s how I recognize if I’m not spending enough time in my zone of genius.
I remember very clearly being back in salaried job, working for others, and having this low-level frustration – constantly.
I felt sad. I felt unsure of myself. There was a lot of self-doubt, and I wasn’t clear on my place in the world, or what I should be doing.
Maybe you felt a similar way too, especially if you’ve moved from corporate to running your own business.
Now, if I start to get those elements creep in; if I feel that low-level frustration or a sense of, ‘I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing here‘ – that’s my sign to look at how much time I’m spending in my genius zone, and whether I can change things.
I ask myself – Is there more I can eliminate or automate or outsource, so that I spend more time in those activities that really light me up?
Here’s three key ways.
1. It makes you fly
We talked over it before, but look for what makes you fly, that gives you an excitement in your belly – or where time disappears, suddenly it’s the end of the day, and you’ve loved everything that you’ve been doing.
2. Listen to your nudges
Or, look for the things you think might make you fly.
If you’re getting constant nudges that you should be doing or trying something, go and try them – make the time to try them.
Because if you’re feeling like that, it’s really important you understand whether that’s a genuine thing that you could pursue, or it might be something you try, then think, ‘actually, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would‘. That’s still so useful, as then you can let it go.
3. Look out for your Zone of Excellence
The third thing to keep an eye on is to recognise when you’re in your zone of excellence – the tasks that you’re very good at, but don’t light you up.
For example, when I was in a career job, I learned how to create documents and adverts in InDesign. So now, I’m very comfortable with InDesign – I can create things very quickly. They look good, but it’s not my zone of genius. It’s not what I love doing.
You can easily live your life in your Zone of Excellence, but let’s nudge you up to your Genius Zone!
Make a note of all those things, the tasks that make you fly and light you, and record them somewhere. Then write down for yourself a little paragraph that says, ‘I come alive when I do these things’, so they’re really clear for you.
Every day or week, when you’re writing out your to-do list, look at this paragraph – it’s there to remind you what you’re best at.
How much of that are you bringing into your week?
If it’s not much, look at how you can change things to spend more time in your genius zone.
Move your Workload
The second thing to do is look at moving your workload to those areas.
This could be looking at the products or services that you offer and working out how to bring in more of your genius zone tasks, or if there’s anything that you can let go of because it doesn’t light you up and you don’t like doing it.
It might be also getting in support and starting to look at systems and outsourcing.
You can personally let go of the tasks that you might spend quite a bit time on right now, but that really aren’t in your genius zone. Then focus on spending more time on your Genius Zone tasks, doing things that will really raise up your business and your engagement with your customers – and help your business grow.
That’s a wonderful thing to do – it’s a win-win. You let go of the things you don’t like doing so much, and you grow your business at the same time.
This is much more do-able than it might sound. You can start small with outsourcing – I’ve created another post all about it and I’ll share the link.
Read More: How to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
Improve your Genius Zone talents
Rather than training up on the tasks that you’re not good at, why not spend more time getting really good at the things that you’re exceptional at and see what a difference that makes to what you’re able to put out into the world – and your enjoyment too.
Incremental shifts in the right direction are key here. If you feel like there’s a chasm between where you are now and working in your genius zone most of the time, just start taking steps in the right direction, and you’ll move far quicker than you expect towards it.
I hope you found this useful. I can’t wait to hear how you use and implement this – because the more time you spend in your genius zone, the happier you’re going to be and the more value you’re going to be putting out into the world. It’s good for everyone.
If you need support to put in the systems and to look at outsourcing so that you can spend more time in your genius zone, that’s exactly what I do. You can learn more about working with me here.