My friend Joe Buzzello talks frequently about what he calls “Your Genius Work.” It is his contention that your genius work is where these three things converge:
- You love doing the work.
- You are talented and do the work with excellence.
- You can monetize the work.
Let’s break these down one at a time:
Do you love it?
Do you love doing what you’re doing? When I started in the insurance industry my mentor/trainer David told me that the day that I no longer was having fun, I needed to quit. Now I certainly have had days when even the most wildly eternal optimist would have been discouraged. These are the things I ask myself when I face situations that are uncomfortable, discouraging, or downright ugly:
- Am I willing to press though to the other side?
- Is the reward of self satisfaction going to be large enough to endure what I face in the moment?
- Will I be having fun again when this crappiness is done?
- Will what I’m doing make a difference in my life and the lives of others?
For me there is no amount of money, prestige or power that makes what I’m doing worth it if I have to answer no to even one of the questions above.
Are you any good?
Are you talented in whatever endeavor you are pursuing? If you still have some holes in your game (and who doesn’t) are you committed to do the work necessary to become world class? See I believe that very few, if any, people are “naturally talented.” Sure everybody has some God give talents. However I can’t think of a single example where someone just one day became world class at anything without working their butt off. A true pro understands this and is willing to, as Malcom Gladwell hypothesizes, “put in their 10,000 hours of practice.”
- The best way I have found to accelerate this process is to use a coach. Someone who has “been there, done that.”
- The second best way is to make all the mistakes yourself.
- You just have to ask yourself, are you willing to hang in there by yourself until you become world class?
Personally I have found it much more rewarding and efficient to learn from the mistakes of others. If you are not coachable and trainable, you might want to pass on finding a coach. You might also want to pass on being successful. Did I mention that Success Is Voluntary?
Are you making any money?
Can you monetize the work? You may have noticed in the first point I asked, “Is the reward of self satisfaction going to be large enough to endure what I face in the moment?” I didn’t mention money. That age old expression, “If you do what you love, you will never work another day in your life,” is very true. However you might not be able to put food on the table, gas in your car, and keep a roof over your head unless you can figure out how to get someone to pay you for doing it. The good news is that the more you work towards being world class, that world-class level of excellence is noticed and rewarded. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I have a friend that used to tell me repeatedly that he didn’t want to promote his work. He felt that if the work was good enough that the people would just find him. I’m not suggesting that anyone should self-promote in a cocky way. It is necessary however to let people know your skill level and that you are willing to share your skills with them. They just have to compensate you fairly. In other words, you have to sell yourself. My friend quickly realized this and now is quick to promote how he can truly help people through the excellence he developed by putting in his 10,000 hours.
So where do you stand?
- Do you still love doing what you are doing? If not, it might be time to change scenery or perhaps to change careers altogether.
- Are you committed to becoming world class? Are you putting in the time practicing? Are you reading? Have you hired a coach to help you break through to the next level?
- Are you making the amount of money you would like to? I’m not sure anyone ever “arrives” to the point they wish they were making less money… Is it a lack of skill, or is it perhaps you are not in the right vehicle for you to reach your financial goals? It is critical that you consistently evaluate what you are being paid in relationship to the value you are providing.
I certainly don’t consider myself to be a genius. But I think I am doing my genius work. And for me, that’s enough!
Which one do you struggle with? Let me know by leaving a comment below.