Three Tips to Help You Identify and Magnify Your Zone of Genius
Gay Hendricks coined the phrase zone of genius in his 2009 book The Big Leap. Hendricks explains it this way, “Your genius is that activity or way of being that you are uniquely suited to do. It combines your innate gifts and practiced strengths. It feels effortless and creative and just plain good”. Others describe this as being in the flow. When you are there you know it. Time seems to stand still (or pass unnoticed). It comes to you naturally, without strain or effort, and leaves you feeling energized.
Your zone of genius is your unique footprint on the world and while we all have one, many of us are not tapped into it. Instead of working to improve your weaknesses (a typical performance improvement strategy), identifying your zone of genius allows you to amplify your natural strengths.
“The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.” – Gay Hendricks
Here are three tips to help you identify and magnify your zone of genius -
- Notice when you are in the flow. Pay attention to those times when you are so engrossed in a task that you lose track of time. It doesn’t feel like work at all but rather leaves energized. Next, get as specific as possible around what you enjoy about the task. Personally, I’ve found myself in the flow when writing articles and creating spreadsheets. At first glance, these two tasks are seemingly opposite. One appears to be highly creative and the other potentially mundane. But when examined further, I realized both included organizing information to conceptualize an idea or create a better understanding. Whether I’m gathering my thoughts around an article topic or gathering data from various sources, both include organizing information in a way to “tell a story”, one is done with words and one is done with numbers. Reflecting on that further, I recognized that organization is a natural talent and storytelling is a passion. So, it makes sense that both tasks are in my zone of genius.
- Be willing to get outside of your comfort zone. While your zone of genius may come to you naturally, practicing it regularly might mean doing something uncomfortable. Take the example of my former boss. He was a naturally gifted public speaker. He also really enjoyed it, that is, once he was doing it. Prior to every speech he would get the jitters, fueled by self-doubt. Once he was delivering the speech he was totally in the flow and afterward felt completely energized. But the nervousness beforehand kept him from accepting exciting speaking engagements. It wasn’t until he hired a leadership coach to help him overcome his anxiety and limiting thoughts that he was fully able to operate in his zone of genius.
- Once you know what it is, tap into it as often as possible. This might mean delegating tasks that you are good at but don’t energize you. It might also mean accepting additional assignments. It could even mean taking up a hobby or side gig. The key here is to intentionally seek opportunities that lie within your zone.
While doing things that we don’t enjoy will always be a part of work and life, finding ways to tap into your zone of genius will create more life satisfaction and success. And, it simply feels good!