I was in my zone of excellence - SAT tutoring - for 11 years too long.
Afraid to abandon a good income source
Guilty about abandoning clients who begged me to stay so I could tutor their next child
Uncertain about whether I could be equally good at a new venture
In fact, I only gave it up very grudgingly when my body started producing shooting pains and pervasive fatigue due to stress. I was good at this, wasn't I? Well, apparently not any more...
Note: this concept of "zone of excellence versus zone of genius" comes from the coach Juliana Garcia https://www.julianagarcia.com/. My expanded thoughts aren't the only definitions of "genius" and "excellence"- hopefully just food for thought....And I apologize for this black and white presentation to provoke contemplation. Of course, there are plenty of gray areas in real life.
Here are a few contrasts:
Zone of Excellence - you are really good at this
Zone of Genius - You love it and you are really good at this (or maybe could be with practice)
Zone of Excellence - other people will happily pay you to do this for them
Zone of Genius - Even if no one pays you, you will happily do this
Zone of Excellence - other people repeatedly tell you that you should be doing this
Zone of Genius - Even if nobody tells you anything, you do this naturally
And here's the kicker...
Zone of Excellence - this is a safe, sane, reasonable, productive, income-producing thing to do
Zone of Genius - Even if it is not obviously safe, sane or income-producing, you really want to do this anyway
Note that it's not an all-or-nothing. You can be firmly in a Zone of Genius in one life area but stuck in a Zone of Excellence in another (for example, loving your career but not connecting deeply in relationships even though people say you're a "great" friend or a "perfect" daughter).
It's that deep sense that, despite superficial success and other people's encouragement, something is not truly satisfying.
Beware: Other people - perhaps with your best interests at heart but also wanting to see you safe, sane, and income-producing (or doing your excellent thing for them) - may continually push you to stay in your zone of excellence!
Great if you are newly excellent or lack confidence in your ability to be good at at anything at all.
Not so great if you've discovered The Tell-Tale Signs that it is Not Your Zone of Genius:
You're kind of on autopilot…
You're so excellent that the interest and challenge are gone…
People squash your attempts to do something new because you've gotten excellently pigeonholed...
Deep inside, you resent or dread doing it...
It doesn't align with new or more authentic values...
In that case, those cheerleaders can become impediments. How willing are they to support you while you set out to explore new territory? Disregarding their advice can feel like pulling teeth or maybe even betrayal.
But consider this..
For a survivor of the Titanic, just finding a scrap of wood to get out of the freezing water can feel pretty darn Excellent!
But it's Genius to abandon the scrap of the wood and get in the lifeboat when the Carpathia comes steaming along to carry you to a new life in America.
Back to my story...I did not go gently into that good night.
Frustrated with my body for forcing me to walk away from my golden goose
Angry with my Divine connection and higher self for steering me into unknown territory
Worried this was the end of my productivity
So much of my self-esteem was caught up in being excellent (and having people tell me I was excellent), I struggled to open myself to align with my values and find something that I loved, not to mention avoiding the shooting pains and fatigue.
I remember the day my spirit guide said, "Robin you don't have a lot of excess energy, so you need a job that makes you feel energized rather than drained."
My thought was, "Such a thing exists?" In my six careers (yes, you read that right), I had always, always been exhausted by work. Astrology is great because I actually, gasp, feel more energized at the end of a reading than I did when I started!
There's no need to berate yourself if you feel stuck in a zone of excellence. (Easier said than done, I know. I am working on forgiving myself for the 11 years that I spent thinking I needed to keep doing a job that made me feel like I wanted to die everyday - literally, my suicidal ideation dropped by 75%, the day I stopped doing regular SAT tutoring.)
Some encouraging thoughts:
Congratulations to you for ever having been excellent at anything!
Maybe your current zone of excellence was originally a zone of genius, and it's just time to evolve.
Double congratulations on uncovering deeper desires or more authentic values.
Good job ascending your pyramid of needs. Maybe being excellent at paying the bills was a necessary first step, and now you're ready to find something that is truly fulfilling.
If you think you want to migrate from a Zone of Excellence to a Zone of Genius, here are some tips:
Reuse valuable skills that overlap both zones. Becoming excellent, you probably developed abilities nourishing to your Zone of Genius. Consider listing zone of excellence activities that you liked and want to recreate in your a potential ZOG endeavor.
Explore potential Genius without abandoning Excellence. Reach into possible Genius tentatively, as a hobby or area of interest, especially if you support yourself and/or your family with Excellence. Then make the full switch if your Genius pans out financially.
Ask for help making the transition. If you feel stuck in Excellence (or maybe it feels like a Zone of Mediocrity) ask the universe, your higher self, divine connection, or trusted and insightful people to help you identify your Zone of Genius and create steps to migrate. It might be a tweak of something you already do for a living, or maybe you can find it in a volunteer opportunity, hobby, or activity to share with loved ones.
One last thing about the Zone of Genius…there might be a reason or two that you're not in it yet.
New skills that you haven't mastered
Seems a little out there, more "Zone of Potential Insanity" than Genius (non-clinically, of course!)
Feels like a shaky limb - your inner voice asks, "What if this snaps because it won't hold my weight?"
Maybe too far beyond your current social circle or support network - my inner voice said, "What if no one loves me after I change?"
Prepare for internal - and maybe external - resistance. But resistance is not a sign that you shouldn't explore. Go slowly, reassure yourself and others that you haven't lost your senses, and periodically retreat from any hair-raising aspects if necessary.
But don't stop. Don't permanently retrench. Don't let hesitation dissuade you from exploring what beckons your soul.
Obstacles can be overcome if progress is calling your name.
What do you think? Are you in your ZOG, or is one in your future? Is there anything you need to escape from?
Photo by Michael Weller www.michaelweller.com