Over the last few months, I’ve found myself faced with two audiences searching for their next career or entrepreneurial adventure: Millennials and GenXers. Both clients were looking for their second ‘act’.
Some people believe starting with the ‘what’ you want to ‘do’ on a daily basis will allow you to find the next ‘act’. Others believe you need to find your passion (aka Zone of Genius) to ensure what you are doing on a daily basis will be fulfilling. I believe you’re going to apply your Zone of Genius to whatever it is you are doing and discovering your next ‘act’ is a matter of paying attention and taking action.
The Quest for YOUR Zone of Genius
The phrase “Zone of Genius” aka ZoG is thrown around quite a bit right now. This designation is placed on a pedestal. Those who believe they haven’t found their ZoG often feel it’s unattainable and some even get depressed when thinking about the work they do as not in their ZoG.
Researching how others describe or point the way to the ZoG, they are often implying that you meditate, journal, and take note when you realize doing a thing was effortless = ZoG. I would say this may be a way to ensure you are in the arc shining from the ZoG lighthouse, however, it’s not the only way to cultivate or discover your ZoG. And – just perhaps – there are multiple things you can do out of your ZoG which will be fulfilling.
I would assert your ZoG is innate and identifiable in how you solve problems. Your ZoG is something so transparent and woven into the fabric of how you do life, it’s hidden … to you. The people you interact with can probably tell you EXACTLY what your ZoG symptoms are – for each person will identify with the characteristics to which they themselves aspire. Ask enough people and you will have a personal branding survey that will highlight the parts of your ZoG you’re demonstrating.
Just Lean In
To me, leaning in is what humans do when we are attracted to something. If you are in to music, you find your body and in the least your ear leaning in to experience the music you like. If you are in to sports, when there is a game that you’re playing or watching and a key action is about to take place – your eyes, your ears, and your body tend to lean in. Consider another person. If you’re “in” to them, you’ll lean in, move closer, and focus on that person. When you’re into an amazing meditation or journaling session, you are leaning into the best parts of yourself.
So, take a step back and consider the activities you’re doing for work. Where are you leaning in? If you are a collaborator – when you get to work with others, perhaps there is an alchemy that exists in teamwork that inspires you to get lost in time and for the team to get inspired to do excellent work. In this case, your ZoG is collaboration and the task is irrelevant.
One more example – after 15 years of leading a consulting group, my team identified me as a personal branding expert. Initially, I didn’t believe them, however, the branding canvas intake process I developed allowed me to repeatedly identify our client’s ZoG (aka personal brand) and was the centerpiece for the successful branding work we did for the leaders and for their businesses. Still unsure, I took a certification course to become a personal branding strategist. Led by the top personal branding mavens of the time, I discovered I had the skills to do personal branding design, planning, and delivery. Upon reflection, my ZoG is connecting deeply with my clients and helping them declare their Zone of Genius. And guess what, as soon as the lightbulb goes on for my client, they physically lean forward to make their declaration. Wow.
Putting it All Together
I’m for spending time in my ZoG. As I look at my calendar, there’s probably 10-20 hrs a week where I’m booked specifically for this activity with clients. There’s many other things I’m doing to support my ability to deliver my ZoG – writing this article is just one of them.
If you’re looking to make a change in your career or entrepreneurial journey, I would start by making three lists.
List #1, who do I want to work with? This could be a person or a general avatar – someone who you want to lean in to their daily activities. Jot down the WHY you want to work with them.
List #2, what market/products/services am I interested in? Make a list of the things you enjoy and the business experiences you’ve loved. Then, jot down the WHY you’re interested in these things.
List #3, who’s ready to hire or pay me to do these activities and how much? This list brings you into current reality. If you already have an income that supports you, you’ll have time and perhaps an opportunity to intern or nonprofit volunteer something new you’ve never tried.
Taking action in each of these three areas will lead you to the next thing which will lead you to the next thing. Without action, you’ll miss the opportunity to pull these three discovery lists together and allow you to express your ZoG in a fulfilling way. Mindset coaches will tell you to celebrate the process of discovery and learn/grow from each adventure. Cheers to you, gl.