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Finding Your Zone of Genius

Why it’s not as easy as it seems

How do you know when you’ve found your Zone of Genius? And what does it really mean to have a Zone of Genius?

Time after time, when you think you’ve found it, somehow it doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t feel right. Or maybe, it’s just too hard to spot. Maybe you think “I just don’t have one”.

For me, the struggle has been self-doubt. Because something that comes so easily to me doesn’t seem all that grand. It doesn’t seem fancy, or unique, or even like it can be considered a “zone of genius”.

But everyone has one. Everyone has a very unique zone that they are a genius in. The struggle is seeing it for ourselves.

If you’ve ever experienced trouble with figuring out what your zone of genius is — what you’re really and truly the best at — keep reading for what you need to know to find it.

What is a Zone of Genius?

A “zone of genius” has become a very popular term and over time has lost its meaning to a lot of people because we — especially as entrepreneurs — hear it all the time.

But I like to think about it like this: A “zone of genius” is simply an area that you are a genius in. Seems simple.

What is genius?

What shows that you’re a genius to you?

That’s where the confusion happens. Because there are so many skills we all have as humans… yet… we can’t be a genius in them all, can we?


And saying that there are a plethora of things that you’re a genius in leaves the phrase “zone of genius” meaning nothing.

So — what is genius?

The Zone Spectrum

There’s a spectrum that’s been called by another name, “The zone of genius method”, but I call it a spectrum because it seems so much simpler that way.

This zone spectrum helps people to visualize and identify what “zone” their skills are in.

It’s broken into 4 categories.

  1. Zone of Incompetence
  2. Zone of Competence
  3. Zone of Excellence
  4. Zone of Genius

It’s my belief that our skills, all of them, go through this spectrum and anything can become a zone of genius if we decide to hone that skill enough.

But many of the skills we learn don’t get past the zone of competence.

So let’s look at what each zone entails and how to know where your skills land, depending on their level of mastery.

Zone of Incompetence

This is the area that skills are when we’re first stepping our toes in their metaphorical waters. When we first start anything, we don’t know much about it.

Therefore, we’re inherently incompetent with it. We’re complete beginners.

We didn’t exit the womb walking or singing or playing the piano — these are all skills we learn, like many others.

The zone of incompetence is an area where there are many other people who are better at it than us.

As we progress our skills, they move into the next zone. So after being a complete beginner, we gain some knowledge, learn a little bit, and move into the zone of competence.

Zone of Competence

This is the level where most of our skills are. We’re competent enough to get by, but about average with the other people who have these skills.

We know about and know enough to get by with this level.

Though there are still more people that are better than us at it.

For instance, these are skills we learn because we have to, not necessarily because we want to or choose to. And this is why most of these skills stay in this zone.

Take, for example, building a website. As an entrepreneur, this is something that we all need to figure out how to do on a basic level. However, not all of us or even many of us will want to further this skill. It’s something we do because we have to, not because we enjoy it.

That’s the basis of skills that are in this zone of competence.

Zone of Excellence

Then we move up into the zone of excellence.

In this zone, we’ve found skills that we enjoy and that we do on a more regular basis.

This could be playing music, practicing art, learning a language, or anything else that you desire to do.

These are things that are more like hobbies or interests.

You learn how to improve your basic skills and then excel at them.

Here, there are only some people that are better at it than us.

Zone of Genius

Then we finally advance into the zone of genius.

You can have more than a handful of skills here in your level of genius — however, there won’t nearly be as many as the other zones. It really depends more on your ability to focus on them, the time you have to dedicate to them, and other aspects.

In the zone of genius, almost no one can do this better than you.

The zone of genius may also not just be about the improvement of a skill, but the uniqueness of a skill or the combination of particular skills.

This is something unique to you. Something that comes so easily to you that it may make no sense as to why it’s considered special.

It’s the things you’re known for. That you’re sought out for. That people highly regard within you.

And this is where your specialty is.

So how do you find what your Zone of Genius is?

Make a list of the skills that you have in your Zone of Excellence.

Write down everything that you believe you do better than most people. What are you really good at? What have you been commended for? What do people tell you you’re really good at?

This list gives you the beginnings of finding what your Zone of Genius is.

Because most of the time, we downplay our true strengths. So your zone of genius may be written in this list.

So what skills stand out to you?

Which skills would your friends come to you for? Compliment you on? Seek from you?

You can even give them this list and have them read it back to you and tell you which they think are your best skills.

Getting an outside opinion can be very helpful, especially with this.

Because like I said before, our Zone of Genius tends to come so easily to us that we forget it’s even special in the first place.

So what’s your zone of genius?

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.