A Mindful Week 36: The "Your Zone of Genius" Issue
Hi, I am Nikolas. This is “A Mindful Week”, an almost punctual "inspiration letter" about creativity, awareness and leadership.
What is Your Zone of Genius?
Hi, it’s Nikolas.
Here is a model to help you determine where to invest your time.
I have done this exercise with various change-makers, from founders to activists. And I noticed a pattern: After our reflection on this model, they adjusted their roles around their core strengths. They delegated what they didn't like. Energy levels went up. Mojo started to flow again.
Now, let us help you clarify what brings and drains your energy…
Place your competencies in four areas:
1) Zone of Incompetence
Things that other people can do better than you.
2) Zone of Competence
Things you do just fine, but others are as good as you.
3) Zone of Excellence
Things you are excellent at but don't love doing.
4) Zone of Genius
Things you are uniquely good at in the world and love to do: you love them so much that time and space disappear.
How to live a life in your zone of genius:
1. Take stock
Collect what you did in the last weeks in the four categories above. Why? Well, your calendar never lies. In the words of legendary Management thinker Peter Drucker: "Tell me what you value, and I might believe you, but show me your calendar and your bank statement, and I'll show you what you really value." Take stock of what you really value and how much time you spend in each category.
2. Imagine and collect
Journal what past tasks gave you the most vital sense of flow and meaning. Think about those moments when time flew, and it felt effortless for you: Note what you were doing then. What the moment felt like. And what role you held. Congratulations, you are zoning in on your zone of genius. Spend time asking others what they think your zone of genius is. Collect all the findings in the visual worksheet I created for you.
3. Attempt an experiment
Experiment! What would my life look like if it were fun? What incremental steps could you take towards a work-life living 60% in your zone of genius? Are there ways to delegate those darn tasks you are good at, but don't like doing? Who would be better equipped to do the tasks that others are better at or just as good as you? Set a time frame of four weeks. Take bold steps. Chances are, you won’t go back.
Worksheet: I prepared a little worksheet for you to explore this model.
This framework works. Why? Because nothing is more practical than a good theory. This framework builds on several principles that support self-understanding and growth:
a) You are unique: no one will ever be as good as you in being who you are
b) Diversity wins: To each his kink. Even if you hate doing it —there might be a crazy nut out there that loves it.
c) Self-reflection + good theory = growth: if you open your perspective to a tested model, reflect, and adjust, new perspectives will open up
d) Deep work wins over the superficial: It’s about what we do, not how many things we do: If you find the one task that creates the most significant change in your life and align it with your strength, the sky is the limit.
Disclaimer: Do wild shit. Meaning, don’t mistake your zone of genius for your zone of competence. Your zone of genius widens with being there. In contrast, your zone of competence shrinks if you don't enlarge it.
Nathan Myhrvold, probably the most intelligent man alive, shared this memorable piece of wisdom to live by:
"If your idea of exploration is always to know where you are and to be inside your zone of competence, you don't do wild new shit. You have to be confused, upset, and think you're stupid. If you're not willing to do that, you can't go outside the box"
A Mixtape Experience: The Midnight Miracle
How do you keep a disspirited person alive?” Comedian Dave Chapelle asks. What follows is 30 minutes in limbo between a mixtape, deep talk by rapper Yasin Bey (Mos Def), and wisdom dressed as jokes. In this tour de force of podcastination we hear Mos, Dave & Talib speak about those we lost too early: from the last days of Amy Winehouse to being high on stage with Robin Williams. And we depart with some wisdom on how to deal with the loss of someone that inspired us. Give it a listen.
The ins & outs of 2023: A Temperature Check
In case you are still figuring out how to make the best of this year, my friend Alexi summarized the trends of 2023. What you might have missed:
out: hyper-nihilism → in: radical optimism.
out: sad beige → in: iridescent technicolour.
out: homogenous perfection → in: imperfect experimentation.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned 😉
The 50 Best Album Artworks of All Time: A biased selection
Callum Abott was in charge of the visual language of most influential music magazine of our times, Pitchfork. As a leaving present, he presents his subjective selection of the 50 best covers of all time. Can you spot your favorite?
Playlist: Deep Dive
Your voyage into the pool of the subconscious pop of 2049
一 Workshops and retreats:
Last year I facilitated over sixty leadership workshops/off-sites, many awareness workshops, and my first silent meditation retreat on a nature reserve on a German island. Now I’m bending and pretzeling my head over how to do a little bit less this year and still have the impact I wish for. So far, I haven’t found a solution yet. And the following location on my itinerary is Paris. If you are there, say hello.
If you are the nostalgic type, or if you are new - here you find the last „Mindful Week“ inspiration letters. Let me know what you think.
三 Mind travel:
The sign-up for my next year’s meditation retreat is open (May 10rd - 14th). As usual, it will be an intimate group of fewer than 12 participants, which is unusual and rare in the world of meditation retreats.
My wish is to create a space of care, nature, food, science, and deep training for you to cultivate this beautiful mind of yours. If that resonates with you, I would book relatively soon, as many places are filled already.
Quote, I’m reflecting on:
A Mindful Week is an almost punctual newsletter about living a reflected life curated by the brothers Nikolas & Alexis. If you like what you read share it with a friend.
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