I just got back from a week in Mexico. Part family vacay and part retreat. I spent several days of quality time with my kids, my parents, my sister and her family which was totally awesome. After that, I dove into four days of retreat with my Ayurveda and health coaching teacher and the tribe of yoga health coaches that I’ve been hanging out with online for the past couple of years. Nothing like a powerful group of women invested in collective evolution and co-creative leadership meeting in the flesh to catalyze deep transformation. Things went deep - fast! When folks like this show up ready to dive into their work and up-level their personal and collective vibration, big shifts can happen quickly. That’s what happened to us. It didn’t take long for us to start to show off our super powers. Sure, we were all yogis and health coaches, but among us, we discovered we were also standup comedians, masters of improv, artists, authors, storytellers, networkers, belly dancers, intuitive healers, energy workers, musicians and even a cyclops!
Do you know your Z.O.G.?
I know I’ve written about it lots already, but I’m invested in helping folks uncover and articulate their dharma, or life purpose. To do this, you have to get crystal clear on your ZOG, that is, your zone of genius. I first read about zone of genius from Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap. (He didn’t call it a ZOG, but my friend Elise coined the term last week on our retreat, and I love it.) Gay Hendricks writes about the different zones in which we spend our time.
First there is the zone of incompetence. This is where you spend your time doing stuff you aren’t good at. For me, that would be keeping books and accounting. I hate doing it and I don’t do it well. I even suck at it. Just ask my husband. If we are smart, we find folks to do jobs we suck at for us.
Then, there is the zone of competence. This is the zone where you are doing things you are competent at, but you’re not great at, and you generally don’t especially enjoy or value doing these things. Necessary computer tech tasks and other chores fall under this category for me.
The zone of excellence comes next. In this zone, you are doing something you are really good and something for which you get noticed and praised. Likely, it is your job, paid or otherwise. I started my adult career life as a public elementary first grade teacher and I was excellent at it. You could say that teaching is my native genius (a related but different term from ZOG). I was a fabulous first grade teacher, and my principal and colleagues would have been happy to have had me stay in that role, but even though I was excellent at it, it wasn’t my zone of genius. I knew it wasn’t because even though I was good at it and enjoyed it for a while. I eventually got bored with it.
Something else was tugging at me. Something edgier. That something was yoga in all its glory. When I left public education, it was edgy for me to think I could dive in and make a living teaching yoga. This gave me pause, but I did it anyway. And, many years later, the yoga zone is still edgy for me. The longer I engage with yoga, and study and embody it in its broadest sense as a life path that includes its sister tradition Ayurveda, and the work of yoga off the mat and in daily life, the more edgy it is. Whenever something is edgy and tantalizing, scary and irresistible for you, it is likely that you are honing in on your ZOG, your zone of genius. It’s edgy because it calls on you to confront your growing edges, your evolutionary potential.
For many of people, committing to working in your ZOG will feel uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable because many of us have grown accustomed to staying in our zones of competence or excellence where we can coast and even zone out. But, evolution isn’t about coasting, it is about expanding. When you discover your ZOG, you’ll have to get bigger. You’ll have to step out of your small self and into your Big Self. When you do, it will actually feel great in a goose bump sort of way because you’ll be owning your native genius in your zone of genius.
For me, this involves teaching and articulating big ideas to an audience that is curious about personal and planetary evolution. The edgy and tantalizing part continues to be there because I’m actively pushing myself to expand my role as a teacher and coach off the yoga mat and beyond the studio to take the big teachings of yoga and Ayurveda to folks on their meditation cushions, into their relationships, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, workplaces, city halls and who knows where else! The unknown makes it even more exciting.
Your ZOG opens up to your superpowers
OK, back to my retreat in Mexico. I started out this blog telling you about my retreat group’s superpowers. We discovered on the retreat that our superpowers could naturally emerge when we allowed ourselves to step into our ZOGs. The yogis have a name for these superpowers. They are called siddhis and the entire third chapter or pada of the Yoga Sutras is dedicated to these. It’s worth a read. Think walking on water, being in two places at once, mastering telepathy, etc. Yeah! All those all sound enticing, and as a yogi, I’m keen to learn these. Really. Especially the one about being in two places at once. However, here are some other superpowers I deeply admire: the method for de-escalating an angry teenager, the key for grounding a stressed out, peri-menopausal 46 year old (oh, that could be me!), the art of the cooking a healthy and delicious dinner for four in twenty minutes, the ability to make me laugh so hard I cry, the knack for growing a beautiful and nourishing garden, the gift of telling a really good story, and power to motivate powerful community action.
Draw yourself as a Superhero. Here is the exercise we did our our retreat to hone in on your superpowers and ZOG. It’s a funny thing how we can feel clueless when it comes to actually being able to articulate what we are good at, excellent at, and genius at. If that is the case for you, it may help to start out by taking a strength finder test to help you reveal to yourself your strengths. Here is the one that I recently took. Knowing your Ayurvedic dosha is helpful too. Here is a dosha quiz you can use to learn about your constitution which will help you figure out your ZOG. You should also ask those around you to tell you what you are good at. Listen and take notes. Once you have some ideas of what you are good at, excellent at and genius at, take a notebook and start to write these down. Write down the small things and the big things. And, also name what you are not good at because that is revealing too. Then get a large piece of paper and a bunch of markers, and get creative. Start to draw yourself as a superhero with all your superpowers. Use symbols, words or both. Relax and see what happens. Get curious and be prepared to be surprised with the result.
This is how mine turned out:
Share your Superhero! After you finish this exercise, you’ll have a clear picture of your ZOG and superpowers. The next step is to share your picture and explain your ZOG to someone who will be excited to hear about it. Find a cheerleader, someone who is cheering for your dharma evolution and tell them about your superpowers. If I can be that cheerleader for you, I’d be honored. Drop me a line and share with me what you’ve got!
Step into your ZOG. I bet your ZOG looks good on paper, but it looks even better in the flesh. What needs to shift for you to live from your ZOG? For me, it required a shift to a new career and the creation of a new job description for myself. For many, living in your ZOG may mean continually creating and recreating your job description. If that sounds lofty (and it is), think about how you can start today. Your ZOG need not be what you do all day every day. That would be cool, but may be a big step for now. Living in your ZOG may not pay your bills right now. But, can you identify and articulate the small, incremental change (kaizen) you can make that will allow you to live more of your day or work in your zone of genius? Where can you leverage your time and space to be in the zone that makes you come alive whether that’s making music, art, writing, cooking, accounting, stand up paddle boarding, making jokes, counseling or driving race cars? When you are in your ZOG, what will that look like, smell like, taste like, sound like and feel like? You get to find out. Isn’t that cool?
Enjoy the journey!
P.S. Conversation to be continued!
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach yoga instructor.