Breaking into Your Genius Zone with Gay Hendricks

How do you unlock your best creative potential? Bestselling author Gay Hendricks joins Modern Mentor for a discussion of his new book The Genius Zone: The Breakthrough Process to End Negative Thinking and Live in True Creativity to help reveal the key.

Rachel Cooke
3-minute read
Episode #677
The Quick And Dirty

The Genius Zone is the place from which our best ideas and work emerge. Understanding the answers to three key questions will help you unleash your best work!

  1. What does it mean to work in our Genius Zone?
  2. What keeps us out of our Genius Zone?
  3. How can we move with intention into the Genius Zone?

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Many people spend their days doing the things, checking the boxes, and achieving their goals... but are they dreaming big enough? Are they tapping into their true genius?
Gay Hendricks, New York Times bestselling author of The Genius Zone: The Breakthrough Process to End Negative Thinking and Live in True Creativity joined me for a conversation about understanding our genius zones, and making genius moves so that we’re putting our best work out into the world.
Listen to the full conversation on Apple, Spotify, your favorite podcast platform, or just click the audio player above.

What does it mean to work in our Genius Zone?

Gay explained that working in our Genius Zone essentially means we’ve “opened up this tremendous creative space” where our ideas flow, our intuition comes alive, and we’re able to deliver our most meaningful work. It requires that we “overcomes the upper limit problem” and recognize we can achieve big things we set our mind to.
“The biggest question is 'what do I love doing more than anything else? What is something that if I were doing that all the time my time would disappear?'”
The way to get to our Genius Zone is to acknowledge—and let go of—our need for control. We can’t control our way into creativity. We must “cultivate the art of letting go of trying to control things that aren’t actually controllable by [us]... The pathway to the genius zone is not through perfection. It’s through messing up.”
“Focusing on something you can’t control is a good way to keep the problem from getting solved.”

So what keeps us out of the Genius Zone?

“What keeps us out of the zone of our genius a lot of times is being locked in our habitual ways of thinking and not cultivating wonder. Wonder is one of the greatest human gifts. What do I need more of in my life?”
Gay explained that when something out of our control happens, we often attribute that outcome to a personal flaw which we imagine to be a fact. But he wants us to challenge this bad habit. “There’s something real in the power of resilience, of asking yourself ‘what is a fact and what is your interpretation of the fact?'”

And how can we move with intention into the Genius Zone?

The first and most critical thing we can do is simply commit to spending more time each day in our Genius Zone.
"Begin with making this statement to yourself: 'I commit to spending more and more of my time in my Genius Zone every day.' Commitment is the first step in anything. And when I talk about commitments I mean a connection of heart, mind, and spirit.”
The second thing we can do is to note how we limit ourselves, and lean into making change. And to trust that just because something hasn’t gone our way, it doesn’t mean we can’t still find opportunity within it. Gay described some setbacks he experienced early in his career. But rather than accepting defeat, he persevered—he trusted that he would find a way to change the outcome. And he’s now published dozens of books.
The third thing is to let yourself get stuck in the thing that scares you instead of avoiding it altogether. Gay quotes the legendary writer Stephen King who says that you’re not truly a writer until you’re in the process of writing and you allow yourself to get stuck. Trust that you’re capable of finding your way out.
As we concluded our discussion, Gay left behind this wisdom: “What I suggest is that each of us think of our genius as being kind of like a symphony, a whole bunch of different parts playing together. That it's not just one thing, that it's a symphony of things that are coming into harmony and coming into better unity with each other. And the value of thinking of it like that is that all of us are complex beings as our great poet. Walt Whitman says, ‘I am large and contain multitudes.'”
There is much more wisdom to be discovered in the book. Listen to our interview for more great insights. And then pick up your copy of The Genius Zone: The Breakthrough Process to End Negative Thinking and Live in True Creativity.

About the Author

Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.