Last year I read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It was a fantastic book and I did something I rarely do with a book – I read it a second time. It’s not that what he shared was new information for me, it’s that it pulled information that I know together in a different and very helpful way. I’d like to share some of the wisdom I gleaned from Hendricks and add my own perspective to it.
Our skills, abilities and knowledge fall into 4 different categories which Hendricks refers to as zones. These zones are Incompetence, Competence, Excellence and Genius/Brilliance. Let’s look at these zones and how they show up in your business.
1. The Zone of Incompetence describes the knowledge, skills and abilities that we don’t have. It makes sense that when we encounter things within this zone, we would hand them over to someone who does have the knowledge, skills and abilities to handle them quickly and easily, right? You would think so . . . . but let me ask you this question. How many times have you spent hours trying to figure something out or make something happen only to end up frustrated or discouraged?
I did that when I was first starting to get my business online. I knew I needed a newsletter so I hired a graphic designer to create the template, picked an auto-responder, wrote my content and then spend about 10 hours looking at html code and trying to successfully load my newsletter into the auto-responder. 10 HOURS! Finally when I realized I was on the brink of throwing my computer out the window and abandoning my dreams of taking my business online, I reached out for help. It took someone else 10 minutes to do what I had struggled 10 hours to do and failed. I was definitely operating in my zone of incompetence.
So many business owners spend way too much time in their zone of incompetence because they have a limited budget and they think they are saving money by learning how to do it themselves. When I calculate how much money I wasted by spending 10 hours fooling around with that newsletter compared to the amount I spend on hiring an assistant who had those skills to do it, I am mortified.
2. The Zone of Competence is where you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to complete a task or do the job, but it’s not how you enjoy spending your time. It’s a “should do” not an “I get to do”. This is another area where, for financial reasons, many business owners spend too much time. They can do the task and so to save money, they do it themselves.
Here’s the thing, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it. When you are doing things that you are capable of doing but don’t like to do, you tend to procrastinate. You either procrastinate doing the thing you don’t like doing, moving it from one to do list to another; or you use the task as an excuse not to do the important things in your business like marketing, networking and talking to prospective clients because you are “too busy”.
I just had a conversation this week with one of my clients who hates doing bookkeeping tasks. She is capable of doing them and her reason for not hiring a book keeper is that it is easier to do it herself than to explain it to someone else. She doesn’t like doing the data entry in to QuickBooks and as a result, she puts it off and then floats from month to month not knowing what her business finances really are. Her insistence on working in her zone of competence is wasting her time and hurting her business on many levels.
3. The Zone of Excellence is the place where you have expert knowledge, specialized skills and top notch abilities. You are really good at operating in this arena and you usually receive significant rewards (validation, praise, money, recognition) for your work. This sounds like a great place to hang out . . . doing good work, getting praise, recognition, validation and money for doing something you like . . . . what’s not to like? It is a nice, comfortable place and many business owners spend their entire life in the zone of excellence.
The risk of staying in excellence is that you can begin to feel stagnant and burned out. Even though you are really good at what you do, you begin to lose your passion and excitement for it. It becomes harder and harder to stay motivated and engaged.
4. The Zone of Genius is your sweet spot. It is the knowledge, skills and abilities you have that give you tremendous passion and make you want to get out of bed every day just so that you get to do them. They are the things that make you lose track of time and you would do them even if you didn’t get paid. Often, they are special interests or specific aspects of what you do in your zone of excellence.
To keep the passion alive in your business, it is important to keep digging and discovering your genius and implementing your brilliance into your business. I have recently discovered my genius and it has made all the difference in how I feel about my business and the clients I am attracting to it.
What to do with this information:
- Let go of the tasks that fall into your zone of incompetence as soon as possible. I know that may feel scary, but I promise you that the relief you feel will be immediate and worth every penny you spend to hire someone else to do it.
- Make a list of the tasks that are in your zone of competence that you don’t like to do or regularly procrastinate doing. Make a plan to get them off your plate as soon as possible so that you can spend the majority of your time operating in you zones of excellence and genius.
- Begin looking for your areas of genius and brilliance. What gets you excited when you have the opportunity to do it? What could you do for hours and not get bored or tired? When you find your brilliance, incorporate it into your business as much as possible. When you work in your brilliance and let other people work in theirs within your business, you will be amazed at the opportunities that open up for you as a result.
I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this article and to hear what you have discovered about your zone of brilliance.