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Introduction to Zone of Genius: Finding Your Genius

Season 1, Episode 4

caneel executive coach

I'm a social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

Introduction to Zone of Genius

It’s 2005 and I’m going to dance parties all night long in San Francisco. I’m in my PhD program for Organizational Behavior at Berkeley business school.

The program seems like it was suited for people who like to sit down, doing a bunch of solitary, analytical, hard-ass work.

I had the thought I wasn’t a good fit for this program.

I was studying 14, 15, 16 hours a day and to balance it out decided to start running.

I began developing aches and pains.  Not long after beginning my training, I couldn’t feel my right leg. Then I could no longer walk. I was in a lot of pain and was devastated.

I couldn’t go to class.  I had to cancel presenting one of my papers at a conference in Hawaii.

I had to pause and renegotiate my life. I went to doctors, went to physical therapy, tried acupuncture and a chiropractor, got massages, got an MRI, got cortisone shots, took vitamins and supplements.  I tried everything.

It wasn’t until I read “Heal Your Back” by Dr. John Sarno that I began to understand my back pain may not just be physical in nature.

Life-Changing Moment

The book explained that in order to heal your back you also need to heal yourself not only physically but emotionally, socially and spiritually.

As I began to work through these layers I began to get better.

This began a 10-year process of learning more about listening to my body and living in my Zone of Genius. Learning when to say No, and learning when my body was telling me I was out of integrity.

Learning the concept of Zone of Genius has been powerful, enjoyable, self-affirming and freeing.

What is your  Zone of Genius?

Here’s the amazing thing: everyone has one.  Zone of Genius is one of four zones of being. 

You may be thinking you don’t have a Zone of Genius or that you’re not a “genius” at anything. 

It’s simply not true.  You have a Zone of Genius to claim.  

You may have decided it wasn’t valuable a long time ago, or were even teased or punished for having this Zone of Genius. Determining your Zone of Genius involves self-awareness and reflection. 

But when you figure it out? Mm-mm-MM! That’s where the fun begins. 

The Zone of Genius is a place of flow, creativity, energy and fulfillment. You lose your sense of time when you are doing activities in your genius. You love it that much!

You would pay money to be able to do this all the time. 

Your success comes naturally when you do activities from your zone of genius.  It feels effortless for you to do this.  These activities give you energy, restore you, and fulfill you. You feel very present and are intrinsically motivated.

Other Zones of Being

Zone of Incompetence

The Zone of Incompetence encompasses the duties you do not like doing. You have a lot of resistance to doing these things.  Not only do you not want to do them but you aren’t very good at them. 

You have to focus and try really hard to get these things done. These are life and energy-draining activities you find boring, irritating and you are likely to make errors.

You should consider delegating these activities to someone else. 

Zone of Competence

The Zone of Competence includes things you are good at and things you are not good at. The key is these are not things you enjoy.  You are capable of these things but you aren’t excellent at them.  They are not fulfilling to you and don’t provide you energy.  

These are things you would like to not have on your plate but it doesn’t upset you to do them. You should consider delegating them to someone else. 

Zone of Excellence

The Zone of Excellence are things you are really excellent at. You worked long and hard to excel at them. You may receive success and rewards from these activities.  They require your hard work and effort but you enjoy it.  Since they are draining they leave you feeling like something is missing.  They lack creativity and you feel burnt out at times. 

Living in Your Zone of Genius is Possible

When you live in the zones outside of your genius it takes energy to perform and is life draining.  Success is not easy or fun and it leads to burnout. 

Conscious leaders spend 70% of their time in their Zone of Genius. 

Yes, the goal is to live primarily in your Zone of Genius.

Why? Because it not only feels INCREDIBLE, but you naturally succeed where you shine. 

You can commit to living and advocating for your Genius in a variety of ways. 

  • Consider renegotiating your role at work
  • Explore your Genius in a side hustle
  • Learn how to live in your genius even when doing activities in other zones
  • Find ways to bring your genius into your daily life

The goal is awareness and then commitment. Once you’re aware of what your Zone of Genius is, the next step is a commitment to moving your life in that direction. 

You don’t need to suffer to succeed. By living in your Zone of Genius you can create a life that feels both successful and full of ease.


About this episode:

How can you succeed without suffering?

Answer: by identifying your Zone of Genius. In this episode, we will get into some hands-on exercises, that have been proven time and again with my clients, to help people identify their Zone of Genius.

You are allowed to kick ass much more easily than you might know. You are allowed to reach your full potential, be healthy, be happy, and add tremendous value to the world by having the impact that only you can have.

​[04:15] It’s 2005, I’m going to dance parties all night long in San Francisco and I’m working on getting my PhD in Organizational Behavior at the business school. How in the world did I end up there?

[22:26] What is Zone of Genius? Zone of Genius is one of the four “Zones of Being” 

[32:37] I walk you through an exercise to find out what your zones of being are. 

[43:42] When you move up the ladder of the zones of being and work toward living in your Zone of Genius it is courageous and freeing. 

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