“Think about what you’re passionate about. I didn’t learn something early enough: if I could go back, I’d tell the younger me that there’s a big difference between loving to work and loving the work.” —Tim Cook
Many years ago, a really smart and wealthy guy (who talked fast and never took a breath) told me that I needed to find my, “genius work.” I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring to exactly. But it wasn’t like I had the chance to ask him to offer me a more detailed explanation. He was gone before I could ask. A few years later I heard the term again. It was discussed in a roundtable session in Philadelphia that was part of a mastermind-coaching program that I’d subscribed to.
This time I asked—slowly raising my hand, and spitting out the dumb question.
“Excuse me, can y-all please clarify what you mean by, “genius work?”
The mastermind facilitator was kind enough to patiently explain that GENIUS WORK is best defined as the work that we really LOVE to do, and that we are also really GOOD at!
So that got me thinking.
The initial question that popped into my head was, what work am I really good at that I don’t like doing? The first thing I thought of was manual labor. I’m really good at any type of manual task you hand me. I will take the chore and do it better than anyone, and probably faster than anyone. But I don’t really like work that doesn’t require thought, analysis and human interaction.
Then I thought, okay…what kind of things do I LOVE to do, but I’m not very good at? The first thing that I thought of was playing the guitar. I really like holding a guitar, trying to form chords, attempting to put a few of them together, but I’m far from good at playing that instrument. It actually feels somewhat unnatural to me and it’s difficult for me to form certain chords. When I try to play, people slowly walk out of the room.
So then I went to the other place in my head and began to coalesce a short list of things I do really well that I’m also quite good at.
The items that rushed into my mind were:
- Launching and Building businesses, projects and initiatives
- Building teams
- Leading teams
- Drawing & Painting (fine arts)
- Coaching & Mentoring entrepreneurs
- Conceptual graphic design and layout
- Writing (Long & short form)
- Creating training content
- Cooking & Eating Italian food
- Delivering content (Keynote speaking & training)
I completely tuned out for a short period of time during the mastermind while I was compiling this list. I wrote down everything that I thought I was pretty good at, that I also really LOVE to do.
I do that…a lot. Tune out. Go someplace else for a while.
When I was a kid in Catholic school the nuns didn’t like it much when I would daydream. They’d hit me with rulers over the back of my head or they threw chalkboard erasers at me. I have found that a lot of dreamers, schemers and entrepreneurs daydream. It’s not a bad thing, unless you’re driving a car…or you’re near a nun dressed like a penguin holding a big dusty eraser.
I tuned back in when the mastermind meeting facilitator suggested that the best and brightest “entrepreneurial folks” learn how to do two things:
- They IDENTIFY their genius work
- They learn how to MONETIZE that work
He went on to suggest that the happiest people in life were those that had somehow figured out how to turn their work into something they love, something they have a natural core competency for, and could then earn a great living at.
Hard to argue with that!
Later that evening, when I was back in my hotel room, I took the list out and looked at it again.
Hmmmm…Cooking and eating Italian food…drawing and painting?
While I wasn’t sure how to monetize those particular talents (the world may not be ready for my artwork!) I was becoming more interested in this concept of better identifying and better monetizing a few of the more significant areas of my genius work.
I became very interested in refining this whole genius work thing so I jotted down the following questions and did some self-coaching:
(You might want to try this exercise also)
- What is my GENIUS WORK?
What type of things am I really GOOD at? Be specific. Build as big a list as possible. Then, ask; out of these strengths, which of them do I LOVE doing? When you merge those two, then you have an idea of what your true genius work may look like.
- Which of these areas/talents can reasonably be monetized?
You don’t have to overthink it, simply and logically check off the most probable opportunities to create some profit with the skills you have listed. You can take one more step…rank the list (top to bottom) with the skill-sets you MOST enjoy, or think would be most lucrative, whichever is more important to you.
- Create ACTION items
Draft the actions that you’d like to take (short term or long term) that will move you towards actually performing your genius work for profit. Become intentional about taking the steps to monetize your work, whatever that may look like to you.
The is a #4 if you’re really serious…
- Hire a COACH
If you can’t do that, at least find a high-level peer that can help you move towards the life you want. In many cases, if we don’t have solid people around us that can expertly coach, mentor or direct us, we can’t get over the hump. A good coach or high-level peer can also act as an ACCOUNTABILITY partner for you, which is huge!
If you want to know a little bit more about how this type of coaching works, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, so the subtitle of this article…why finding your genius work can be so life changing—let me address this.
As I look back now on my professional life and think about the times I was the happiest, I can honestly tell you that it was when I was truly involved in my genius work. Those two or three extended chapters in my life were magic—truly life changing.
When I allow myself to also look back at the short periods of my career when I was less than happy, or even slightly miserable, I can clearly point to factors such as, doing work I didn’t care for, or doing work that I simply wasn’t very good at.
Now…before you leave a comment at the bottom of this blog and tell me that, “Life isn’t perfect” and tell me that, “We don’t always have the ability to choose what we do for a living,” and also politely remind me, “Hey, I gotta’ pay the bills, Joe B.”
I get it. I get it.
But I’m talking about you simply being more INTENTIONAL here.
I’m simply suggesting that if you first identify your genius work and then determine that parts of it can be monetized in some way, (W2 or 1099) then perhaps you can start to apply thoughts and actions that move you closer to all of that happiness.
It may take some reasonable amount of time to re-direct your life and career towards your genius work. It may take some extra energy to become genuinely happy and feel fulfilled—to actually have a life changing experience.
…but think about it…
It took you a reasonable amount of time and energy to wind up where you’re at right now! And if you’re NOT where you want to be, then logically you have ZERO to lose by simply becoming a bit more intentional about the rest of your life and professional career in the future.
Identifying your GENIUS WORK and moving towards monetizing it IS that intentional thinking that can change your life!
So, how can you use this?
- Am I doing my genius work now?
- Have I identified what it actually is?
- How can I monetize it?
- What actions can I begin to take to methodically move closer to that work?
Tim Cook is right. There is a HUGE difference between loving to work and loving the work that you actually do…and doing it well.
Okay your homework assignment for this evening…find and move towards your genius work!
Ask Joe B. about executive personal coaching, Learn how affordable and effective it can be for you. Send him a note at: email@example.com
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.