Finding Your Zone of Genius

Finding Your Zone of Genius
Your Zone of Genius is found where you have both high passion and high competency

What is the zone of genius?

Have you ever been working and suddenly realize you missed lunch?

You were so focused that time just flew by.

You were working in your zone of genius.

Your zone of genius is work you do that doesn’t feel like work at all.

Why finding your zone of genius is important?

We spend over 90,000 hours of our life working.

I’ve talked to many people who hate their profession and it saddens me.  They never took the time to find their zone of genius and when you talk to them they’ll tell you quickly they hate their job.

Don’t hate what you do for 1/3 of your life.

How to find your zone of genius?

Your Zone of Genius is found where you love doing something you're great at

When are you working and time just flies by?

What duties at work energize you?

This may be hard to figure out.

You need to find the intersection of work you’re good at and enjoy doing so much it doesn’t feel like work.

Here’s what I recommend you do.

Talk to yourself

Thinking is just talking to yourself.

I do my best thinking while on a walk. Moving my body gets my neurons firing.

While on the walk I ask this question :

“What work gives me energy, despite the drudgery involved?”

This is a hard question.  All work contains drudgery and all work will have painful moments.  I believe you can even be bored while doing work you love.

Talk to others

This is similar to conducting a listening tour when finding your candidate-market fit.

This is where you ask people you trust about your strengths.

Some questions to ask them are :

  1. What traits do I have that you admire?
  2. What do I do that appears effortless?

You may be surprised by the answers.

We so little ask for honest advice from people that we have little idea how people really perceive us.  We may be so unconsciously competent at something that we don't even notice we do something others struggle with.

You then filter the responses by what you actually enjoy doing.

You could be great at something but hate doing it, and you want to avoid that.

It took me many years, many attempts at different activities, and a variety of feedback, to learn writing was in my zone of genius.

When to search for your zone of genius

This is helpful once you have enough experience to figure out what you enjoy.  You may be lucky and find you’re highly competent in your passion early in your life, but for most of us it’s a journey.

My rule of thumb is your zone of genius is something to figure out in your mid 30s, once you have enough experience to draw upon and a handful of people you’ve worked with long enough who will be honest with you.

Find your person-profession fit

This is all a step towards finding your person-profession fit, which combines your zone of genius with the market’s needs.

Like I said earlier, we spend over 90,000 hours of our life working.  Most people don't take the steps to find their zone of genius and then figure out how to connects with the market's needs.

This is a worth while exercise I recommend everyone take.

If you found this post helpful to your software journey, please subscribe to my newsletter where I talk about my experiences building software for myself, others, and helping aspiring product managers do the same.