How to Find Your Zone of Genius - 'Unconscious Competence'

You don’t know what you don’t know. Sounds scary right?

Last week I wrote about understanding the power of time blocking strategies to focus your attention. Now that you’ve sorted your calendar and blocked it up with funky colours, have you figured out where you should focus your attention?

Pull up your calendar on your screen. Look at the distribution of ‘work’ time, ‘family’ time and ‘you’ time. What’s that balance like? Where are you spending your time AND having the most impact?

To better understand when you’re in the ‘flow state’, these are the times when you look up and 30 minutes have flown by. Or you know you need to move on to your next task but it’s super hard because you’re having such a great time. What are you doing in these moments?

THAT’S your zone of genius! 

Now notice the tasks you’re doing where you procrastinate getting started, you are constantly watching the clock, and when you’re easily (and happily) distracted. These are the tasks you need to delegate - pronto. Is that report writing? Exercise program design? Bookkeeping? Blog writing? Social media circus tricks?

It’s ok not to be the best at every aspect of your job or your business. What’s not ok is, once you recognize you need a hand, to avoid getting help when you need it. Imagine having someone show you an easier and quicker way of doing things.

Imagine handing off a task to someone who can do the thing faster, more accurately and who actually enjoys the detailed process of it all. You have the power.

In the 1970’s, Noel Burch, an employee with Gordon Training International, developed a super interesting concept known as the Conscious Competence Ladder. 

The model features two components affecting our thinking as we learn a new skill: consciousness (awareness) and skill level (competence). Becoming competent at a new skill requires a learning process that goes something like this:

  1. Unconscious unskilled (unconscious incompetence) - we are not aware that we don’t have a particular skill or that we need to use it
  2. Conscious unskilled (conscious incompetence) - we understand that we don’t have this skill
  3. Consciously skilled (conscious competence) - we know that we have this skill
  4. Unconsciously skilled (unconscious competence) - we are not aware that we have this skill but it’s comes so easily to us that we don’t focus on it

Our zone of genius? You guessed it - unconsciously skilled or competent. How do we figure out what this skill is? Well - have you ever been complimented on something that you do that comes easily to you? Are you a great speaker? An amazing networker? Have the ability to stay calm in tense situations?

Think carefully about comments you’ve heard about yourself in the recent past. Write these down. Do you see a pattern here? I bet there are some pretty good clues!

On the flip side, now you can be a little gentler on yourself as you learn new skills. We all have to pass through these stages of Burch’s model on our way to unconscious competence. Everyone. Feel a bit better?

The fun part is discovering not only what your unconscious competencies are - but now figuring out how to use them to earn yourself a living. I have every confidence that you are on your way to doing just that. 

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