In the startup world, where our culture of overwork often outweighs work-life balance, female entrepreneurs especially need to get over the pervasive do-it-all mind-set.
It’s impossible to actually do everything ourselves, but not admitting this leads many women to take on too many responsibilities, apply too much self-pressure, and try to succeed on their own.
Then what happens? Most female entrepreneurs remain solo. They become stagnant, focusing too much time and energy on what they think they have to be doing instead of getting clear on what it is they actually should be focusing on. As a result, 75% of women-owned businesses make less than $50,000 a year.
The truth is, you can’t do your best work when you’re bogged down by tasks and responsibilities that you don’t enjoy or that don’t come naturally to you. Similarly, you can’t grow a business beyond yourself if you don’t hire people to support you.
If you want to be successful, you have to take a step back and evaluate who you are and what type of business and life you want to lead.
Psychologist Gay Hendricks originally coined the phrase “Zone of Genius” in his book, The Big Leap. According to Hendricks: “In your Zone of Genius, though the time you spend there produces great financial abundance, you do not feel that you are expending effort to produce it. In your Zone of Genius, work doesn’t feel like work.”
At Hello Fearless, we’ve come to define the zone of genius as where your personality and passion meet what your company needs from you. It impacts every aspect of your business, from your leadership style to company culture to hiring practices.
To find this zone, ask yourself, “How do I want to spend my time?” “Where do I add the most value?” and “What strengths and skills do I bring to the table?”
Once you understand where you want to focus your own energy, you can hire people whose skills complementarily fill in the gaps. Remember all of those things you weren’t good at doing? Chances are someone else is skilled in those realms and actually loves doing those tasks; it’s what makes the world go round.
To discover your zone of genius, you have to be honest with yourself about the innate strengths, weaknesses, wants, needs, fears, and motivations that make you, you. This level of clarity and self-awareness is how you determine what your own role in the company should be, plus what team members you need to support you.
Finding your zone of genius doesn’t happen overnight. Wanting to understand who you are, and especially how to identify and overcome your weaknesses, is a mind-set you have to work at every single day.
Here are a few ways Hello Fearless has created an environment that fosters self-discovery, and you can too:
I’ve hit a lot of speed bumps on the journey to where I am today, and I’m not afraid to talk about them. Sharing my own story of self-discovery allows our employees to feel comfortable doing the same. As a result, we can shape-shift and adjust responsibilities to make sure everyone on the team is happy, doing their best work, and helping the company grow.
I’m a big believer that life doesn’t move sideways, it moves up or down. The idea that you should always be evolving to become your best self is at the core of everything we do.
At the beginning of the year, for example, I had my team think about what they needed to become better versions of themselves and identify anything holding them back from doing it. Through the exercise, each person laid out a clearly defined set of goals to guide them through 2015. By taking the time to focus on ourselves, we established accountability and checkpoints that will ensure we stay on track.
Rethink how you evaluate decisions and it becomes clearer whether you’re doing something because you have to or because you genuinely enjoy it. Don’t just weigh the pros and cons of a decision, but also ask yourself, “Am I going to find fulfillment in doing this?” Applying that lens to your thought process, you’ll get a better understanding of whether you truly love the task at hand or you simply feel obligated to do it.
When you’re in your zone of genius, you’re being the best possible version of yourself. People will feel your energy and want to be part of what you’re doing, and that’s how you build a well-rounded team.
More women embracing their zones of genius will lead to more profitability, greater impact, and more fulfillment for us all.