Build Your Dreams

Career coach and author Gay Hendricks shares more than thirty years worth of research and trial and error in this book and presents the most effective ways to conquer your fear, quit holding yourself back and build your dreams. 

Build Your Dreams by Living in Your Zone of Genius

According to Hendricks, we operate in different “zones” throughout our lives. In our Zone of Competence we are capable to complete the tasks as needed, but we don’t stand out or excel. In all likelihood, we are probably bored by our work, or even worse, by our lives. We don’t feel challenged and aren’t growing.

The Zone of Excellence is a little better. In fact, it’s where most people live. We find something we are good at and enjoy doing so we stick with it. Really, it’s a solid plan. It’s basically a guarantee to be mostly satisfied, decently paid, appreciated and noticed for a job well done and a feeling that we checked all the required boxes. Excellent is a pretty good label.

But some people aren’t satisfied with pretty good. Some people want the best. Not necessarily the best house or car or corner office. But the best for themselves and their lives. They want to hit their stride in a place where they know they could not excel any further. They want to live in the Zone of Genius.

Build Your Dreams by Eliminating Your Upper Limit Problems

If this Zone of Genius is such an amazing place to be, why aren’t more people there?

Hendricks says it’s because we limit ourselves. We feel a little successful and proud and then realize that we don’t deserve that kind of attention or reward. We are afraid to succeed too much or to outpace our family or friends. Maybe it really is lonely at the top and who wants to be happy with no one to share it with? Or maybe the people I really care about and whose approval I want will find me a burden to have to encourage my success.

These limitations stops us in our tracks. We could make a leap to greatness, but something stops us. These become our Upper Limit Problems. It’s like we have a thermostat built in that is tripped if our success rises too high. If it does, we subconsciously create conflict or disaster that knocks us back into our lower zones. A huge success in work can turn into a giant argument with a spouse.

Worrying about our success instead of enjoying it and the process to achieve it is a sure way to hit your Upper Limit. Worries will always be part of our lives, but we have to learn an effective way to deal with them. We can not become overwhelmed by worries. Take a tip from meditation teachers and learn a detached observation of these worries. Notice them and let them pass. Feel it fully, then fully allow it to move on. Allow the positive emotion it was masking come fully into being. These Upper Limit Problems of worry are stopping us from achieving our biggest goals and living in our Zone of Genius.

Build Your Dreams in Your Zone of Genius

While living in something called a Zone of Genius sounds amazing, how do I get there? How would I even find what my one primary task is in my Zone?

Hendricks describes finding your Zone of Genius like Russian nesting dolls. The biggest outer doll is something I am good at. It’s probably something I like to do and receive some recognition for. It’s the big idea of what I feel best doing. Maybe it’s writing or running meetings or problem solving with others. It’s a great place to start, but it’s too broad.

We have to identify the big idea, but don’t stop there. The next question is to find the exact thing I’m doing when I am at my best. I’m not just writing. I’m communicating something difficult in a way that most people will understand or be able to implement. Or I’m writing something that makes people laugh and have positive feelings about their lives.

There is one step even deeper to take to find the Zone of Genius. What I do most love about that thing I’m doing. Do I love the connection with other people or the satisfaction of completing a problem? The thing I could do all day long and not feel bored or overwhelmed is squarely in my Zone of Genius. It’s the thing that makes me feel alive and happy and satisfied. It’s unique to each person and it’s why we each have a Zone of Genius and can all be living in it at the same time.

spiral staircase representing building dreams

Build Your Dream by Solving Conflict

Conflict will happen in life. There is no way to avoid it, but there are better ways to deal with it so it does not trigger an Upper Limit Problem and derail progress toward the Zone of Genius. This is one of the most useful things I found in this book.

Conflict is really about blame. We want someone else to take responsibility for what we perceive as a problem. Never have I heard anyone end an argument by saying “You’re right. I’m a jerk. I’ll change and make you happy” That’s because we all see the responsibility belonging to the other person.

Hendricks believes that we all need to take 100% responsibility for our problems. If two people are involved, that’s 200% responsibility that can’t be divided any other way than 100% for each person. Interpersonal conflict is not settle by an insurance adjuster who can give one person 73% responsibility.

Each person is 100% involved and 100% responsible for change. We can’t change anyone else, only ourselves. Each person in the conflict not worrying about who is at fault, just taking their 100% and making it the best they can is what will end a conflict without resentment and lingering bitterness. We solve our 100% and move on.

take responsibility for conflict

Build Your Dreams with a Mantra

All of these concepts can be encapsulated in the one sentence mantra Hendricks gives us in the book. “I expand in abundance, success and love every day as I inspire those around me to do the same.” Like other mantas of meditation practice, this one is intended to be used repetitively to ingrain the feeling in our subconscious.

The feeling of expansion is what we are always looking for. We want to always be growing in our Zone of Genius and refining the skills we use there. It not only is a constant reminder to continue to strive toward our best, but it gives us a purpose. Our Genius is not solely so we feel satisfied with our lives. We are helping others move toward their own Genius. In one way or another, our actions encourage and assist others to be their best.

The more often we use the mantra, the more often we are recommitting ourselves to our goal. It gives us the ability to say no to the things that are not in our wheelhouse. Our no means someone else can step up and come into their own Genius. Plus, we get more time and energy to focus on what we are truly good at.

If you love this mantra, be sure to download your own copy to use daily. Put it somewhere you will see it and use these proven word to stay focused on your goals and prepare yourself for success, whatever your goal is!

Put it into Practice

How do you plan to use this new information? My first plan of implementation is really figure out what my Zone of Genius is. I have a general idea of what my goals are, but I need to be more specific. After that I can hone those particular skills, seek out mentoring, take classes and look for support in that one area. Being hyper-focused on my Zone of Genius will help me to eliminate distractions and lose the feeling of FOMO when I think I want to do all the things.

I also want to keep in mind Hendricks theory of conflict. I’m not going to argue someone out of their belief or feelings. I have to take 100% responsibility to resolve the conflict in a way that I can. I also can not take on any of the other person’s 100% responsibility.


Use the mantra!

Click here to download a graphic of the mantra Hendrick’s uses.


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Comments 3

  1. Pingback: Book Index — A Field of Clover

  2. Great post! Very informative and helpful in reaching my goals and building my dreams! Love the mantra too! Will definitely be using it often

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