In order to be who you are, you need to let go of who you think you're supposed to be.
We're fed tales about what success looks like and it's reinforced at every turn. The social media highlight reel, TV, magazines, at family dinners. It's easy to buy in and lose yourself in the process.
It's not your fault, but if you're looking for more meaning and fulfillment, it's your responsibility to unlearn old paradigms, find your Zone of Genius and step into the power of who you really are.
We aren't all here to get an office job, buy a house in the 'burbs, have kids and worry about them until we retire. As a Second Generation Canadian (born in Canada, parents born in the Caribbean), I grew up with that model of success, but when I started checking the boxes (became a lawyer, got married, almost bought a house bigger than I needed on the outskirts of the city), something didn't feel right.
Right before signing those mortgage docs, Mat and I awakened to the fact that we had been travelling a path that wasn't truly our own. We were just doing what we thought we should be doing to be "successful", so we skipped the signatures and went backpacking for 6 months to reconnect with ourselves and what we really wanted our lives to look like.
This was the starting point of puzzling together our Zones of Genius, which is still an ongoing process.
There are so many opportunities outside the box. Thanks to the internet and our parents’ sacrifices, we can chart new paths. We can self express and get paid for it. We can help people and get paid for it. We can take time to find our Zone of Genius and get paid for it.
So, what is your 'Zone of Genius' anyway?
Put simply, it's the intersection between your joy, your innate strengths (i.e. natural talent) and what you can get paid for.
Here are 6 tips on finding it:
- Acknowledge that your ability to make money at something doesn't mean that you're in your Zone of Genius or that you should continue doing it, even if it's a lot of money. Society places an emphasis on monetary success, but that’s just one part of the equation. Our attachment to receiving recognition based on how much we've made or what we can buy is exactly what holds us back from finding our Zone of Genius. We continue playing in just one part of the diagram when there's so much more to discover.
- Follow your joy. What doesn't feel like work when you're doing it? What do you find yourself learning about or paying attention to even though you're not getting paid to do it? If a hobby comes up, discard any thoughts of "well, that's not a real job." Because people are getting paid to just about everything. Again, society doesn't place an emphasis on those non-traditional paths, but to find your Zone of Genius, you must prioritize authenticity over approval.
- Release the fairytale about a perfect path. There is no fairytale business that doesn't come with its own challenges even if that's what Instagram leads you to believe. There will be parts of it you don't love. The good news is that down days are more easily embraced because they lead to forward movement on an authentic path. That type of growth is inherently rewarding.
- Your natural talents are key to your Zone of Genius because you're competent enough to do well at the outset, which provides motivation to continue. In other words, this is the path of least resistance and with all of the bumps and turns of entrepreneurship, remove resistance when and where possible. Pay close attention to talents you brush off because they come so naturally to you. Ask those around you what they think you're naturally good at. Pay attention to things you enjoy that others seem to complain about. What are you doing when you easily lose track of time? Where do you get greater returns than the average person?
- Monetize in a way that supports your ideal lifestyle. You don’t have to take a pay cut to do what you love. This is a major limiting belief that keeps us stuck in jobs we dislike. Think outside the box. No need to be a starving artist when there's abundance literally everywhere, ready to be claimed. If you can't get paid well to do the actual thing, can you teach it? Can you curate content on your niche interest? Can you facilitate conversations? You can make money in just about every area of interest, especially if you get creative.
- Finally, don't expect it to come together right away. Clarity on your Zone of Genius comes from experimentation. Test things out, put yourself out there and let go of any perfectionistic tendencies that hold you back from showing up without 'having it all together'. Be willing to put in months, years, even a decade of self exploration to hone in on your Zone of Genius.
Comment below and let me know if you've thought about your Zone of Genius and if so, what helps you put the pieces together.