Hi there! Todd here. Bold claim, I know. I just finished the book "The Big Leap"… this was a life-changing book for me...
Core Concept: Each person has 4 zones within their work.
- Zone of Incompetence: This is pretty self-explanatory… these are things we suck at.
- Zone of Competence: Things we are competent at.
- Zone of Excellence: These are activities that you are excellent at — better than most, in fact — but don’t love doing.
- Zone of Genius: These are activities that you are uniquely good at in the world, and that you love to do, so much so, that time and space likely disappear to you when you do them.
Why is this important
The ROI on time and energy in your Zone of Genius… is 5x-100x compared to anything else. It’s not even close. The amount of production, results, return on investment for your Zone of Genius far outstrips anything else. Examples: Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, etc… you think they have been spending most of their lives doing what they are excellent at or what their unique genius is? Exactly. Now I know everyone isn’t them. But in your own life (and for your team members) the more you can align them within their Zone of Genius… the vastly higher your ROI and results will be.
Of course we can’t all be in our Zone of Genius at work 100%. That is unrealistic. There are boring, tedious and crummy parts of work and we all know it. A good rule of thumb here is 80/20. If you are spending the majority of you work in Zone of Genius, you are good to go. The genius is then to frame the 20% as the prep work (like an athlete warming-up and doing recovery work) that allows you to do the 80%.
Here is a very good test to see if you (or someone on your team) is operating in their Zone of Genius: … Are you energized by the work? When you are done, do you have more energy then when you started?…This is a much better litmus test than “doing work you love” as that is so over-used and murky. Using the above will let you know where you are operating.
My Life-Changing Epiphany
In our culture and in the general ethers… We think work should be hard. And that makes sense.. back when we lived on farms and there were 10 children and everyone had to be up at 4am and one bad crop and everyone starved and died.. it makes sense that you frame work as being hard. That was very necessary. And then during the industrial age where we had to work in factory all day and get the black lung.. also makes sense we thought that way.
We now live in an age with leverage and technology that people can sit in a room and think quietly, and then type their thinking on a computer (coding, writing, marketing, accounting, engineering, etc) and turn that into millions of dollars. It is a completely different age now.
So most people walk around thinking.. “Work should be hard”… instead of seeing things have changed and that work can feel easy to you AND be highly productive. In the great words of Naval Ravikant “do work that feels like play to you, but looks like work to others.” The more aligned your work is, the more it gives you energy, the more it flows, the more you are in your zone of genius.. the more money, the higher your ROI and the better your results are. And the more that “hard work”… doesn’t feel so hard.
Alright.. my little diatribe over.. quick plug: we use the above concepts when screening and recruiting. If you ever want to chat about recruiting.. You know where to find us!
Sincerely, Todd Patrick Dorsey