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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?

Exactly.

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.

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What I Wish I Knew About Entrepreneurship Before I Started

I wish someone would have told me how hard entrepreneurship was.

Not that I wanted it to stop me from pursuing it, but I wish I would’ve had a more realistic view of what was to come — perhaps my mental health wouldn’t have suffered so much.

We are shown such a grandiose version of entrepreneurship that it brings the “grass is always greener” saying to my mind.

Entrepreneurship isn’t fast. Isn’t easy. And it isn’t glamorous.

It’s real. It’s difficult. It takes time.

But it’s worth it.

That picture right there… the real, raw, authentic explanation of what entrepreneurship really is could’ve helped my mindset as I was “failing” for 2 years straight.

Every day was the same:

  • Coffee
  • Set out to tackle the day’s tasks like learning marketing or learning how to sell without feeling sleazy
  • Getting crickets back from an almost non-existent audience (because other entrepreneurs who were trying to pitch me their services flooded my follower-count, making my actual followers not see my content first)
  • Taking it personally because I was shown that “entrepreneurship is easy”
  • Feeling like a massive failure
  • Day after day
  • Hour after hour
  • And suffering mentally and emotionally because of it

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Over and over and over again.

I honestly have no idea how I kept going for 730 days straight in that cycle. But I did. More actually. And if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you’re right where I was too.

Feeling lied to by the people who market entrepreneurship as something so easy that it happens within a month to 3 or even 6 months.

But that’s not even close to reality.

In reality, many businesses are lucky to break even in their first year — because most don’t. And the second year, it’s the same. In the third year, that’s when you’re statistically supposed to start seeing profits.

But that’s not what we hear about.

So I decided to stop everything and reevaluate.

I’m no longer putting my time or effort in places that don’t feel correct for my energy or spending another dollar on yet another copy-paste course that is going to tell me the same thing every other one is.

I’m done.

Not with entrepreneurship; I’m done with the way anyone else tells me to do entrepreneurship.

What do I want to do?

I’m a writer.

Okay. Anything else? I like speaking out loud and talking about my insights.

Okay. Good. Two things.

Two things that are me. Not my business, just me.

What do I think this will do?

Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t have any expectations specifically, and here’s why.

I can’t predict what others are going to want to hear from me. I can only see what they like hearing about from me.

Data.

Meaning I’m not “failing,” because I didn’t do what the course said or what the ‘guru’ was saying to do.

There’s no way to fail here.

Because whether I want to talk about my thoughts and way of thinking; my food allergies and how I live by being gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free; my love of the beaches, my memories at the lake, or my fictional stories based on real events; or even my insights with Human Design, Manifestation, or just Business with being someone who doesn’t fit into the norm of society.

Who knows what will entertain or inform or illuminate?

But I’d like to find out.

And maybe, business won’t have to be as hard as it seems, when I’m doing what I want to do regardless of the system that entrepreneurship seems to be functioning within.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what you want to try too.

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.

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The “Right Way” to Start a Business

Discussing the fast-result and fast-money industry.

Have you seen the courses, downloads, and masterclasses that are directed to starting a business and getting fast results?

They usually say something like “Follow my 4 step process to profit quickly in business!” or “This training is all you need to succeed in business!” etc.

Essentially telling you that a 1-hour to 6-hour training will be everything you need to start a business and get money quickly.

But all of these claims are bullshit. And here’s why.

There is NO “Right Way”

Just like we humans are all at least slightly different in some unique way, there are many, many more ways for each individual person to succeed in business.

That’s math that I can’t even do. 7 Billion people to the thousands, even millions, of ways for each person.

You don’t need the “one way.”

The one way that it worked for them isn’t guaranteed to work for you. Because you’re already a different person. You have completely different reasons, values, talents, skills, preferences, gifts, and so much more.

Not to mention prestige, privilege, starting point, knowledge, location, availability of resources, and all other external factors.

Both your internal experience and external experience are vastly different than the person trying to sell you the way that worked for them.

And both of these will skew the results you create by using their process.

“Fast” and “Quick” are Click-Bait Terms

If you’ve been duped by these terms before, you’re not alone.

These two words are tossed around carelessly and interchangeably. Yet they’re both vague and broad.

Fast could mean you set it up fast. Not that you’ll succeed fast. Or it could mean that you’ll find your first client fast — because the first client is usually someone you know (40% of new business owners have their first client through their network).

Or fast could mean that you learn the knowledge you need… well, fast.

But there’s no given timeframe. And your perception of a fast timeframe could be slow for them. Or vice versa.

Fast in this context, to me as a 3rd-year Entrepreneur, means you’ll be able to start within 1 year and gain your first client within 2 years.

Entrepreneurship isn’t as easy as it seems. There’s a steep learning curve for many, the industry is constantly shifting, there are new things to learn all the time about it.

So, what really does “fast” or “quick” actually mean?

It means the marketing understands your pressure to get results quickly. That’s it. It’s just a marketing tactic.

What really brings fast results?

Action. You taking action to do the thing. To start the business. To post the information. To market yourself. To start at all.

And yes, you’ll learn that within the masterclass, course, or whatever it is. But it still doesn’t mean their process will work for you if you’re left confused on what to do or where to start.

Just as well, overthinking and procrastination slow any progress. Having someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of, and actually consult with can move you forward faster than a course that is just knowledge sitting in your head.

Without action, results don’t come.

So what’s going to get you in motion? How are you going to take a step forward today? What action step will you complete?

Write it down. Then go do it. Take some action so you can start building momentum to receive real results.

We could get into a whole rant about why this is, and the deeper aspects of what’s going on in the fast-result and fast-money industry, but I won’t ramble that out today.

Instead, I want to leave you with actual, viable options if you’re looking to make fast money.

Fast, in this sense, means within a month. Not days, weeks.

The only faster way that I know of is selling things you own. Then, it may be days.

But in terms of business startups and entrepreneurship, I’m going to assume that you don’t want to sell all your stuff.

2 Ways to Make Money Within a Month

Freelancing gives the broadest opportunity to make money while remaining in your zone of genius and being able to continue working on your own business. It’s where you take the skills you already know and can competently complete and offer them to others who need them.

  1. Signup for a Freelancing Platform and Offer Services
    – Fiverr, Upwork, and other similar sites are where the clientele already comes to their platform. So you don’t need to go out looking for clients from scratch.
    – With Fiverr, you set up your profile and then wait for the algorithm to pick you up (usually after 2 weeks) and start showing you on the first page.
    – With Upwork, you set up your profile and then bid on the work that clients have already posted. Think about it as an interview process.
  2. Offer Freelancing to Entrepreneurs You Already Know
    – Established entrepreneurs likely have items they’d like to outsource. Such as emails, social media posts, blog posts, website modification, appointment setting, etc.
    – Offer your services to them and see if they know anyone else who may need the same kind of help.

Remember, there is no “one way” that will work for you.

Your journey is uniquely your own. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be pretty.

It’ll be messy, authentic, vulnerable, easy, and challenging, all in one.

But you’ll be moving forward, figuring it out, and, most of all, it’ll be true to you.

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor and don’t pretend to be. Everything in my articles is purely experienced from what I’ve personally done or what people I actually know have done. Nothing in my articles is meant to be financial, legal, health, or medical advice of any kind. Make decisions wisely and always do your own research.

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What it Really Takes to Be an Entrepreneur

Before you quit your day job, make sure you’re ready for the road ahead.

My entrepreneur journey started abruptly.

I quit my job without warning, without a plan, and without knowing how exactly I was going to make money.

But at the time, I didn’t care. I was SO done with being burnt out, being taken for granted, and being relied heavily upon because I was one of the employees that actually did their job plus helped others do theirs.

I was exhausted, drained, and downright upset.

My lifelong dream was to be my own boss. Yet, at 25 years old, I hadn’t begun my entrepreneur journey yet.

I was facing my Quarter-life crisis, (yes, that really is a thing), and decided to immediately effect change in my life.

So I quit my job, moved out of state, and began a new life.

As an entrepreneur.

Fear set in when I realized I had no idea what to do.

I wasn’t a business major, I didn’t have a college degree or any “special” qualifications other than the multitudes of adversity I had already faced from a young age.

Overall, I didn’t know how entrepreneurs made themselves a success. I knew it wasn’t luck, but I didn’t know the road to take.

It seemed like I didn’t have a clear path ahead.

And after 2 months of dicking around, not fully committing to any one thing, I started looking for part-time work.

That’s when I learned the first lesson I hope to help you avoid.

1. Plan Ahead

Do your research now. At the first sign of desiring to become an entrepreneur, start looking for information for free online.

At the very least, start when you’re awareEven if that means today.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as some people seem to think. It’s actually MUCH harder than a traditional job.

At a traditional job, you already have the place you work at, the clientele who come to you, the systems that you work with, the operations that create efficiency, the pay scale that is reliable, and the ease of having to do only ONE job position.

As a new entrepreneur, you — and only you — are the one person doing everything.

Don’t leave the details to chance.

You won’t be able to accommodate for everything, however, you CAN set yourself up better by being more prepared with plans.

Here’s a list of questions to help get you started in your search:

  • What niche are you planning to start in? Do you know what a niche is?
  • Are you mentally and emotionally prepared to face failure after failure until you reach success down the line?
  • What platforms do you like? Which medium of content do you want to create?
  • Who do you want to help? Do you know anyone that could use your help right now?
  • What type of services are you going to create? Do you want to be product-based or service-based?
  • Who is your support system? Do you have friends, family, acquaintances, or groups of people to help support you along the journey?
  • How often are you going to learn and improve yourself to give your entrepreneurship journey a better chance at succeeding?

This list is not all-encompassing, but it’s a list I would’ve been grateful to have at the beginning of my own journey.

Start mulling these thoughts over, building your knowledge base, and planning for the time you start your journey.

Don’t wait forever to start, but jumping in right away isn’t always the best option. Find the place in the middle that works for you.

After I had to get a part-time job for 3 months, I was ready to start at it again.

I had done some research and learned some skills, I had a vague plan of action and began the 2nd attempt.

This attempt lasted longer than the first, at 4 months of solid effort.

This leads to the second lesson I hope to help you avoid.

2. Pride loses. Perseverance wins.

I was so sure that the 2nd attempt would be successful.

So sure, that I was blind to what was actually happening.

I didn’t enjoy the niche I chose. My audience wasn’t responding to the content I was putting out. I was drained, burnt out, and exhausted all over again.

But I begrudgingly held onto this attempt for as long as I could, before I watched it crash and burn.

I’m thankful it did though. I learned a lot during this experience.

I was able to compare my experience with this 2nd attempt to the 1st attempt.

I learned that I didn’t want to be in that niche, so I was able to pivot.

I learned that having pride was holding me back and keeping me blind.

I learned that I didn’t fully enjoy the platform I was on.

And little by little, I was revealing to myself what this journey would need of me more than anything else…

Perseverance.

It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something you choose.

You choose to continue forward; you choose to keep going when you’re faced with challenges, and you choose to forge on, even when you seem to fail over and over again.

Perseverance is by far the most needed trait of an entrepreneur.

Perseverance is what propels you to try again and again, even when it doesn’t look perfect.

Perseverance is what drives you to learn how to do something when you knew nothing about it previously.

Perseverance is what keeps the spark of joy alive in your heart when you set your goal and attempt to reach it.

The only way you could ever lose — or truly “fail” — is when you choose to give up altogether.

Keep going, and you will make it.

After the 2nd attempt, I got another job, this time a full-time one.

I had planned to only stay for less than 6 months, but 3 months in is when the big C hit in the USA in 2020.

Amid mass shutdowns, I was given the time to begin my 3rd attempt.

And my 3rd attempt is where everything changed.

This lesson I learned as I went, and thankfully it didn’t stop me in my journey, it merely shifted my path as I moved forward.

3. Pivot, Pivot, Pivot

If you’re a fan of the Friends series, you may remember the episode where Ross, Chandler, and Rachel are moving Ross’s new couch and he consistently says “Pivot! Pivot! Pivoottt!”

This is the word I want you to remember when you feel stuck on your journey.

Change is inevitable; and we grow through changes.

Pivoting in business is as common as bread at an Italian Restaurant.

Get as comfortable with change as you possibly can.

In the first few years of being an entrepreneur, there are going to be massive growing pains.

There are multitudes of skills you’re learning.

There’s knowledge that seems never-ending.

And there’s the possibility that what you choose to niche in, solve, or brand yourself as will change.

Let yourself change. Choose to pivot. Choose to shift your path instead of giving up entirely.

It’s likely that your first idea won’t succeed. Or your second. Or third. Or fourth. Maybe not even until your 30th.

It’s different for everyone. But knowing this upfront can help soothe your mind when or if it does happen to you.

For me, I failed over 30 times before I found my niches.

Yes, niches. Plural.

I’m currently the CEO of 4 businesses. I’m a creative entrepreneur, and I like variety. It took me a while to figure it out, but I did.

And that’s the point.

I allowed myself to pivot so many times that I found the things I wanted to specialize in.

I found the platforms I enjoy.

I found the niches that both light me up and allow me to help others.

All because I allowed myself to Pivot.

I failed fast so I could begin again fast. I attempted and attempted and attempted.

Did I doubt myself at times? Yes.

Did I have breakdowns and moments of despair? You bet.

Did I allow it to stop me? Absolutely not.

This is one of the reasons in the list above I included the question about your support system.

In my times of breakdowns, I consulted the people I trusted. Not for them to give me business advice, but for them to help me see my strengths again.

The entrepreneur journey doesn’t have to always be alone. Yes, it is you that is the sole person working towards your dream, but there are people ready to support you if you ask.

Entrepreneurship is a journey that is like nothing else.

It’s liberating, motivating, thrilling, and fulfilling.

And if you cultivate and incorporate these skills and lessons, you will reach success as an entrepreneur.

You can make your dream a reality.

So plan ahead in a way that feels correct for you.

Don’t let pride get in the way.

Persevere through the perceived failures.

Accept change as a standard in life.

Pivot when needed.

And, above all, never ever give up on your dream.

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.