Two of the most significant teachers during my career in the time management field were Stephen Covey and Gay Hendricks.
With Stephen’s work, I began to realize how much time in each day I spent in conversation or in action with events and things which were really not that important to me. I also started to see the value in training my mind to only focus on the actions needed to support my heart remaining open. I no longer wanted to fill my days with irrelevant topics.
When I would find myself stressing about a particular topic, I would ask myself, “Will this make my eulogy? Will someone mention this at the end of my life?” Ninety percent of the time I would get a resounding “no” and so I would let it go.
Focus is a key factor in our lives. You can be in traffic and focus on how slow it is moving, or you can enjoy being in the flow. You can look at your relationship and see how challenging it is or you can celebrate the other ninety five percent, which is powerful and amazing about the relationship. Spending time on the important attracts more important moments into our lives.
Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant. —Stephen Covey
Gay Hendricks taught me to categorize my day-to-day tasks into four zones: Incompetence, Competence, Excellence and Genius.
It is crucial to learn how to make the distinction of how you spend your time and how you express your excellence and your genius. It requires an honest inventory of noticing which tasks and events we engage in, and noticing which are falling into the incompetent or just competent zones. Remember there is always someone else who would love to do the things for you that you are incompetent in, because for them it could be a task that fulfills their excellence and genius zones.
Gay gave an example of how he was at the post office one day and waiting in a long line to mail his package. As he reflected on what he was doing with his package and his use of time that day, he came to the following realization: he was competent to mail his package but his excellence and genius zone was to be at home writing his book. It was at this moment he realized he could engage someone else to mail packages. This someone else would free him to stay at home and work on his writing and stay in his zone of excellence.
By consciously staying in his zone of genius he could enable someone else with the patience and personal assisting organizational skills set (including mailing packages) to stay within their zone of genius (personally assisting) at the same time.
This practice has changed my entire way of working in my spiritual community. I now delegate more and empower others to fulfill many tasks that may be in my zone of competence but their zone of genius. This way, members of my spiritual community are empowered to stay in their zone of their genius while I can too. This is what Stephen Covey terms a win-win for all.
When I see myself fulfilling projects that are within my zone of (in)competence, I now realize I can create a job or a fulfilling task for somebody else who would really love to do it. This way of life—this way of living in my zone of genius (as Gay Hendrick calls it)— gives us the freedom to be a Difference Maker
in someones’ life, while continually expanding our desires that keep us in our zone of excellence too.This article is an excerpt from my new book: Being A Difference Maker: A Guide For Living Life Out Loud.