How to Live from Your Genius
In todays podcast we speak with Gay Hendricks who’s been in the field of coaching and personal development for over 45 years. He’s coached rocks stars and CEO’s alike including people like Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers.
We speak about the exciting journey of how we can begin to clarify and live more and more from our zone of genius. We also unpack some of the barriers that show up to that in what Gays calls our Upper Limit Problem.
Why do some people live enviably fulfilling lives while others muddle through with an ever-increasing sense of disillusionment and doom? Gay Hendricks has spent his life exploring how to help people fulfill their potential and in this conversation he tackles some of the core fears that keep us from our zone of genius and how we can access it.
The million-dollar question
There are those who obsess about it and those who go to extremes to avoid it, but the ultimate question for the modern human is: How can I fulfil my potential?
It’s a deep drive within us, and if left unattended to has a tendency to leave us living with an underlying sense of dissatisfaction, no matter how shiny and “successful” the exterior of our lives.
This inevitably leads to the question of what that potential might be – but the answer lies in the simple observation of what we love to do. Look at the percentage of time you’re spending doing what you love, and you’ll have a pretty good indication of how much you’re living your potential.
The zone of genius
Each of us has a zone of genius, an area of skill that is uniquely ours. So why does it seem like so few people manage to access and live from this zone?
A big culprit is socialization; we’re taught for example that it’s not done to ‘outshine’ others, that it’s best to stay within the margins of general behaviour – this safe middle zone effectively stops us from becoming outliers and exploring our full potential.
Another is that many of us grew up with stories and conversations that embedded particular fears or identities within us. In this case it’s important to explore how you’re limiting yourself due to these stories and to ask what new conversation you need to have in order to move beyond them.
The other more personal blockage to living our genius is an internal one; the fear of being fundamentally flawed. The mental narrative goes something like, “Who am I to…”. A first step in working with these fears is to unpack them and seek evidence to the contrary.
Changing our internal narrative is most easily achieved by starting to ask different questions, and to start getting in touch with our zone of genius we need to ask what Gay calls “wonder questions”. These are questions that excite you, and that expand your awareness – questions which merely by virtue of being asked open you up to a different level of wisdom.
An example might be, “How can I create maximum abundance for myself while contributing to others at my maximum ability?” This is great because it stretches you in creating your own abundance and in your contribution to others. This question, if pursued, will almost certainly lead you to your zone of genius.
Living from your zone of genius
How do we know when we’re experiencing our zone of genius? It’s characterised by a sense of timelessness, of flow; insights arise and innovative solutions are found, breakthroughs happen and intuition becomes stronger. There’s also often an increase in clarity in the way you live your life – you become more decided in what you allow to be part of your life, and what you reject; you begin to pay as much attention to your No’s as you pay attention to your Yes’s.
There’s an important distinction between the zone of excellence and the zone of genius. The zone of excellence is where you’re doing something you’re very good at; the zone of genius is where you’re doing something you’re very good at and you love doing it.
So how to begin? Gay recommends starting with just ten minutes a day of allowing yourself to follow any impulse you have that feels like it might get you closer to your zone of genius – this might be just sitting for ten minutes and asking yourself what your zone of genius is.
Another helpful prompt is to ask “What do I love to do that serves others?” – we are happiest when helping others, and this hardwiring means that we’re unlikely to feel fully satisfied until we are our own heart’s desires are expressed in a way that helps other people reach their hearts’ desires too.