What zone are you working in?

Do you sometimes wonder how it would be to teach school kids, instead of working in your current job? Or, if it would be a good decision to go back to college for graphic design? If yes, you’re not the only one.

In his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks mentions that people often pursue careers that prevent them from expressing the fullness of their abilities. Someone might be successful as a sales manager, but they would be happier as a chef! Says Hendricks, when it comes to our work, we operate from one of the four following zones: incompetence, competence, excellence, and genius.

  1. Zone of incompetence. When you do tasks you don’t enjoy, and are not good at as well, then you are in this zone. For example, getting ready to present to your best client when you don’t have public speaking skills. If you find yourself here, then stop. And delegate the task, or find a way of doing it differently. Else you’ll feel like you’re wasting away. Wondering what you’re incompetent at? Ask yourself:
  • What do you consistently get negative feedback about, in your work?
  • What work do you do, that just about everyone can do better?
  1. Zone of competence. Here, you spend time doing things you can do just fine, but others can do them too, with more efficiency and enjoyment. These might include administrative tasks, finding cheap flights, organizing team dinners, etc. The key here is that you feel unfulfilled. But, not as bad as the zone of incompetence. At the end of the day, you’re just drained. What tasks are these? Ask yourself:
  • What work do you do that others can do just as well or better?
  • What work do you do well but it doesn’t feel totally satisfying?
  1. Zone of excellence. This is a tricky one because here you are good at what you do – better than others. And you receive recognition for the same. It’s comfortable. You are known for your work. The problem – you’re missing the excitement or the zest for it. It feels like work. And if you stay too long in this zone, you plateau. Find out more about your zone of excellence by asking yourself:
  • What do you consistently get positive feedback about in your work?
  • What do you do better than anyone else? 
  1. Zone of genius. The fear of moving away from your excellence prevents you from getting to your genius. In this zone, you are in a state of flow. You love what you do, and all sense of time disappears. The task may be herculean for someone else but is easy for you. Exactly why such a zone is hard to identify. Like telling a fish that it is a genius swimmer. What’s in your genius zone? Ask yourself:
  • What work do you so love doing that it doesn’t seem like work?
  • Which work generates the highest ratio of positive results, compared to the time spent?

As you answer the questions and find the zones you’re operating out of, hold on to the awareness. We want to help you move into your genius. And we have ideas for that. Come back for the next post!

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