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Your Zone of Genius & Why You Must Live It

You’re about to learn what the Zone of Genius is and how to move into it. We’ll also talk more about why you must live your Zone of Genius.

Know that this is a potentially life-changing move. It can dramatically impact your work, creativity and finances and improve your entire life.

Operating in the Zone of Genius will fundamentally alter the way you work. You will love what you do.

Laura Garnett

Let’s start by talking about what the Zone of Genius is.

What is the Zone of Genius?

Gay Hendricks says it is “living up to our full potential.” That said, there are two ways to look at the Zone of Genius, and you’ll see both perspectives out there.

One way is to view it as the fields, sports or activities where we have high competence and high passion. For example, if you run a business that fulfills you and lets you use your greatest strengths, you’re working in your Zone of Genius.

The other is to view it as the activities or tasks within our occupation where we have high competence and high passion. This is common if you run a business and carry out a variety of tasks: some might be in your Zone of Genius, while others are run-of-the-mill, obligatory business stuff.

I prefer the first definition because I think it’s crucial that your entire career is built around your Zone of Genius. But if that’s not possible right now, doing more Zone of Genius activities in your regular career is still a positive move.

In any case, your Zone of Genius means high competence and high passion.

It’s a highly personal set of activities. Often the Zone of Genius is found at the intersection of several high-passion, high-competence areas, meaning that very few people will share yours. It has a one-of-a-kind, unique quality.

It’s those activities you’re uniquely suited for and that allow you to positively contribute to the world. When you’re working in your Zone of Genius, you get a disproportionate number of positive results compared to time spent. It doesn’t feel like work: it feels effortless, and your accomplishments blow people away.

These activities energise you and enable you to regularly enter flow states, where your attention is absorbed, time seems to disappear, and you feel carried by the joy of your work.

You’re not working in your Zone of Genius as a means to an end. You’re not in it for the money, or the prestige, or the recognition. You’re doing it because it’s how you express yourself and feel fulfilled.

Why You Must Live It

The idea of living in the Zone of Genius and making money from it seems alien to most people, and this is a real shame. They’re missing out on some of the sweetest fruits life offers.

For one thing, working in the Zone of Genius is deeply fulfilling. You’re not doing this work just to pay the mortgage, but to express yourself, be creative, make a difference in the world. Since you’re motivated intrinsically and approaching the work with energy and enthusiasm, you’re much more likely to reach peak performance and produce remarkable work.

If you find your life lacks purpose, it’s probably because you’re not living out your Zone of Genius. This is why you feel hollow and empty at work.

It also gives you a huge competitive advantage over others. Most people are vanilla, ten a penny, afraid to develop their uniqueness to the full. Working in your Zone of Genius means you let your uniqueness and personal passions fully flower. You become a rare commodity, one that others can’t copy. This gives you a huge advantage in your career and business.

And by fully living in this zone, you deeply understand yourself and live according to who you really are. You know who you are, what you enjoy, what fascinates you, and you’re able to bring all this into the world.

I’ve always had the sense that my life is singular and finite, and as such I must make the most of it. I want to live my Zone of Genius, know why I’m waking up every day, feeling I’m exploiting my greatest strengths and making an impact in the world. Without it, I don’t feel alive.

This sounds nice, but how do we actually live our Zone of Genius?

How to Live Your Zone of Genius

I’ve written an entire article called Life Calling: Find It and Live It, which is a big-picture guide for how to find your passion and make a living from it. Follow this guide over the months and years, and you’re likely to find and live in your Zone of Genius.

In my case, I could have started working straight out of university in a high-earning career. But I had an enormous life crisis, when I realised that my field wasn’t authentic to me, and that no amount of money would fulfil me if I had to work in it.

At that point, I had to jump out of my Zone of Excellence (high competence, low-mid passion) to pursue high-competence, high-passion work. I spent years finding new passions and moving into my Zone of Genius. I sacrificed a lot and endured a lot of struggle to get to where I am now.

Sometimes living in this zone requires changing career, picking up new skills, going back to school, or starting a business. It takes sacrifice and bravery.

Even finding it is challenging. We struggle to see ourselves objectively, therefore can’t pinpoint our unique traits and approach. We’re so conditioned by our society and family’s view of the ideal career that we’re unable to develop and contact our authentic desires. What’s more, we seek social validation by saying and doing the right things, instead of expressing ourselves, and this distorts many of our decisions.

Once you find it, you must commit and be tenacious. You might need empathetic support to help you find and operate in your Zone of Genius. You must cultivate great self-knowledge and do away with the false modesty.

If you don’t feel you can make a giant shift at this point, at least begin to cut out non-ZoG tasks and projects. Perhaps you can delegate them, or switch roles, or change companies.

If you already work mostly in this Zone, you can still aim to spend more time there by delegating your grunt work to others. That way, you get to give the best of you to your business or employer.

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