What’s your first reaction when you hear the word work? Do you feel a sense of dread and a low-level buzz of anxiety, or do you feel a sense of purpose, accomplishment, even excitement?
If you fall in the first camp, it’s definitely time to change your zone. And even if you are good at what you do and mostly enjoy it, changing your zone could make work an even more fulfilling experience.
According to Gay Hendrix, author of The Big Leap, there are four zones we function in:
- The Zone of Incompetence: these are things you just aren’t good at.
- The Zone of Competence: these are things you can do, but aren’t something you are great at.
- The Zone of Excellence: this is where most people who enjoy work land. People in their zone of excellence are doing things they are really good at, are comfortable doing, and often can earn a really good living doing.
- The Zone of Genius: Someone in their Zone of Genius feels like they are exactly where they are meant to be. When they are working in this zone, they lose track of time, feel alive, feel the most like themselves. It’s the thing that they are uniquely and naturally talented at.
People often get stuck in their Zone of Excellence, which makes sense: it’s full of things they are really good at. But eventually, people get bored in this zone. They aren’t doing the thing that makes them feel alive, the thing they were created to do. When someone can transition to their Zone of Genius—even for a small part of the day—it transforms things. Work goes from a dreaded “must-do” to an enjoyable activity. Creativity, ideas, and energy are unlocked. Lives are changed.
So: how do you figure out your Zone of Genius?
- Make a list of things you are good at
- Go through the list and highlight the items that you most look forward to, the ones that make you feel “in the zone”
- Look through the highlighted items for patterns. What do they have in common?
- Start paying attention to how you feel when you do these tasks. What deserves to make it on a new list: Zone of Genius.
- Think about how you can integrate items on your Zone of Genius list into your daily work. If it’s not possible in your current work situation, consider starting (or rekindling) a passion project instead. Even a few minutes a day dedicated to doing something in your Zone of Genius can make an impact.
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