I’m a big fan of the Zoning model proposed by Gay Hendricks in The Big Leap. I use the model loads with my clients who are ambitious entrepreneurs and go-getting employees. But we also harness it for life out of work too – and it’s super powerful.
You spend your life in difference zones – incompetence, competence, excellence and genius. And it’s great to get clear on all the different things you do, and categorise them into these zones (perhaps jot down everything you do in a week, just at work, or in your home life and pop them into these categories – though be open to moving them around as you explore more).
- The Zone of Incompetence: These are the things you’re inherently not good at and don’t understand. They cause you stress.
- The Zone of Competence: Here, you’re doing tasks you’re pretty good at – efficient and effective. But you’re not bringing anything unique and others could do it just as well. They’re repetitive, not highly skilled, but can cause stress if not done.
- The Zone of Excellence: Now here you’re doing things you’re great at; where you’ve practiced and cultivated skills. It’s an important part of your strengths profile but certainly not the full picture. In reality, these things don’t really light you up (though can be where you’ve had success).
- The Zone of Genius: So this is where the great stuff happens – the things that give you passion, joy, inspiration, challenge and dedication. It’s where you tap into innate skills and traits. This isn’t just about being great at things here (though you’ll likely have some talent here). But it’s where you harness your uniqueness and really excel.
So ideally you want to be operating in your Zone of Genius as much as possible. This is where you’ll love doing what you do well, and be inspired and stretched. It’s where great things happen. Your Zone of Excellence is also the home of many strengths and talents so – in terms of confidence – super useful to be clear about (though it can be come a bit mundane and uninspiring to be in this Zone too much, as a career for example).
And I love to help clients combine these Zones with all their wonderful personality traits, their “soapbox topics”, their quirks, even flaws, along with life experiences to build a picture of exactly what they bring to the party – being true to themselves, playing to their strengths and stepping forward.
And remember to revisit the Zones of Incompetence and Competence in a compassionate way. Knowing where our weaknesses are is all part of really nailing our strengths. So take a breath and ask: