My aunt won a contest the other day by sharing her quick-and-easy business advice “Stay in your lane and pay others to do what you don’t want to know or deal with.”
It’s like when you’re driving in traffic (Hey, Seattle) and turning down the radio so you can focus on the streets and directions. It sounds funny because turning down what we are hearing helps us with what we are seeing. It’s the loss of one sense that heightens another. There are several reports on why we do this but it boils down to the need to cut through the distractions and focus on road ahead.
Your entire life you are asked ‘What do you want to be/do/study?’ If you were my little cousin you would have answered a firefighting dog, a license plate or a duck washer all by age seven. Her answer at age eight should be just as entertaining.
Throughout high school and early college I was interested in the medical field. I started out as a Biology/Pre-Med student with the aspiration to go into dermatology. By sophomore year I wanted to pursue nutrition or dietetics. By the end of sophomore year, I realized I was interested in learning a variety of topics (noisy distractions) but the reality of doing one thing for a career just didn’t appeal to me. My friends were the ones to suggest Public Relations and Communications because of my personality and strengths and it was the balance I needed. I could focus and enhance what I was good at instead of beating myself up over what I just wasn’t loving.
Let me say here: I believe you should have a working knowledge or basic understanding of everything. You should always be learning, questioning, leading and exploring.
It took cutting through the distractions of so many options to focus on my road ahead. PR landed me an internship with Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year, Bailey Lauerman. I was introduced to an office where everyone collaborated on projects based on their strengths and were paired up for the best client outcome. I had access to the most creative copywriters, web designers, creative art directors and mentors.
We were all able to meet up, delegate tasks and then focus on what we were good at.
Instead of me taking 4 hours to learn how to master Photoshop and come out with a meh-designed piece, my co-worker had multiple, beautiful examples ready to go and we worked together on adjusting them to reach the ‘vision’. I was able to take my saved time and put it toward other killer work so we all won.
(Sidenote: This was my favorite job experience EVER if you can’t tell. If you get the chance, go work for them!)
Another Example: To me, taxes are the epitome of necessary-but-annoying adulting responsibility. Last year my husband and I went through a professional to file for us as an introduction to W2+1099=Filing Jointly world. We thought this would establish a great template for us to just do it ourselves next time.
Next time came around and after a weekend hermited inside, going through papers, files, missed deductions and faulty communication that can only lead to not-nice arguments with your spouse plus several digits more of a payout….we agreed to invest in our sanity and have a pro handle taxes from here on out.
For the tax guy, this stuff comes naturally. He gets it. To my aunt, she wants to focus on her work and it’s worth her time and money to pay others to take care of business. The working couple with five kids prefer to spend their time outside of work with their family so hiring house cleaners and yard work just makes sense.
Welcome to working in your Zone of Genius, a concept that came to life when Gay Hendricks published ‘The Big Leap.‘ I first heard about this from an interview with Sara Davison and Boss Babe Academy (Listen to the Masterclass here.)
If you’ve gotten this far you’re obviously a good reader (CONGRATS!) so I won’t repeat everything but there are Four Zones in which we can operate: Incompetence, Competence, Excellence and Genius.
As entrepreneurs you wear many different hats so this can be easy to scoff at. Those scoffing will soon fail as they worked: by themselves. Those that are most successful in their work realize what and when to pass some tasks off. No one ever got to where they are alone.
You’ve heard “You can know a lot about a little or a little about a lot.”
People also say it isn’t WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know.
I see it as this. It’s not a matter of “I’m not capable of doing this” but “My energy is best spent here and I’m capable of noticing that.”
It’s not “How many things can I know?” but “WHO do I know that can do this for me and do it well?” People can only get by on surface-level knowledge of knowing a little about a lot for so long. I feel I’m most succesful when I have a network of people who know a lot about a little. Imagine how productive you’d be if everyone could work in their zones.
It might be intimidating to label your Zone of Genius or scary to outsource but when you realize you are investing in services to give you back your time, what you end up gaining is far more valuable.
I want to know: What have you realized is better to outsource or take care of yourself?
PS: Know someone who would like to focus on their craft and let us cut through the distractions of their marketing? Let’s work together.