​Are You Doing What You Were Truly Meant To Do?


Note: ​School Leadership Reimagined is produced ​as a podcast and designed to be ​listened to, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

You're listening to the School Leadership Reimagined Podcast, episode number twentythree.

Welcome to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast...

where we rethink what's possible to transform your school. If you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now, here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey Builders, welcome to episode 23 of the School Leadership Reimagined podcast. I’m your host, Robyn Jackson and today, is kind of a follow up to my last podcast where I talked about how to overcome burnout.

Last time we talked about how the reason that so many of us are burned out is that we are operating outside of our zone of genius. If you missed that episode, I strongly encourage you to check it out. It’s episode 22 and I’ll link to it in the show notes.

Today I’m going to deal with a slightly different obstacle. You see a lot of people already KNOW that they are operating outside of their zone of genius. They know that they aren’t doing work that they are uniquely built to do and that feeds their souls while serving others.

And yet, they aren’t sure how to find their true calling.

So today, I’m going to give you six questions to ask yourself to help you discover where your zone of genius lies.

But before I dive in, I have 2 quick announcements...

First, have you gotten your ticket to Builder’s Lab 2019 yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Think about it. At the beginning of the school year, you were probably all excited about the plans you had made over the summer and all the goals you set. And by now, well, life has probably gotten in the way and maybe you’re not as far along on those plans as you thought. 

That’s why I really want you to come to Builder’s Lab 2019 because January is the PERFECT time for a reset.

This is not like a lot of conferences where you go and you get a ton of great information and you get all excited and inspired but when you get back to your school, you’re so slammed with all the stuff that went on while you were gone that you don’t have time to implement what you learn.

No, no, no.

At Builder’s Lab 2019, you’re actually going to get some work done AT the conference. We’ll spend 3 days building your Builder’s Blueprint which is a complete roadmap to achieving your goals THIS year, not next year, not 2 years from now, THIS year.

And on day 3, we’re going to do an implementation lab where I’ll walk you through how you’re going to put what you learn in place in the next 90 days. Right there, we’ll get things on the calendar, we’ll send emails and set up meetings, we’ll get everything in place, so that you can go back to your school and hit the ground running.

So it’s not like you’re taking 3 days AWAY from work by coming to Builder’s Lab 2019. It’s more like you’re taking 3 days to get your most important work accomplished.

You can get your ticket to Builder’s Lab 2019 by going to https://mindstepsinc.com/builders-lab/.

Second, We’re in the middle of the o“Jumpstart Your Education Consulting Business 5-Day Challenge and there’s still time to join if you’re listening to this episode when it was released. So, if you’ve ever thought maybe I’ll start my own education consulting business someday, this is your chance to stop putting your dreams off and actually get started. When you join the challenge you’ll get a free workbook you can download that helps you build a roadmap to starting your own education consulting business. Then, each night at 7:30 Eastern Time, I will jump on facebook live and do a 30 minute training on a critical aspect you need to get your education consulting business up and running. You’ll also be a part of an exclusive, private facebook group where you can post your questions, get real-time coaching from me, and get access to other exclusive bonus trainings. And, if you miss one of the live trainings, no problem! I’ll post the recordings inside the facebook group so that you catch up when it’s convenient for you.

At the end of the 5 days, you’ll have completed your roadmap to jumpstart your very own education consulting business! We’ll cover things like how to figure out your niche, how to identify and find your ideal customers, and how much money you need before you quit your job and pursue your dreams full time.

This is the last challenge I’ll be doing for a while so if you’ve ever dreamed of being an education consultant or starting your own business one day but you aren’t sure how to get started, then you NEED to be a part of this 5-day challenge. 

Here’s how to join. Just take out your phone and text the word JUMPSTART2018 to the number 33444 to sign up. 

Okay, now for the questions:

Question #1: If outside influences like money or bureaucracy weren’t an issue, what would you most love to do?

You know, I hear all the time from people who want to start their own consulting business or who want to pursue a different career in education but they are afraid to lose the money they are making.

They have bills and financial obligations and they worry that if they leave the security of their job, they will put their and their family’s financial position in jeopardy.

For instance, right now we are doing the Jumpstart Your Education Consulting Business 5-day Challenge and so many people are starting to actually be able to visualize their dream consulting business now. They are building that roadmap and getting so excited about the business that they are building and they know in their hearts that this is the work that they really want to do.

But, many of them are getting stuck. They are saying things like, but what about health insurance? Or, I’ve got two kids and a mortgage so I can’t do that right now.

Isn’t that sad?

They have this dream and their dream is held hostage by finances.

In fact, on day 4 of the challenge, we are going to address this very thing and I am going to show them how to figure out the finances part and lay out a plan to transition from being employed to being an entrepreneur so they will have options, but it makes me sad to think that for years, they have been putting off their dreams because of money.

Are you doing the same thing? Are you staying in a job only because it pays well?

What if money were no object? Would you still be in the job you are in currently?

Or here’s another thing I see.

I talk to a lot of school leaders who KNOW how to help their students achieve. They know that the schedule should be different or that class size should be smaller, but they don’t have the funding they need to make those things happen.

So year after year after year, they stay frustrated doing things that they KNOW don’t work, but believing that’s all they can do with the money they have.

Again, are you doing you sustaining instead of building your students, your teachers, your school because you don’t think you can afford to do it a better way?

How would you run your school if money were no object?

Here’s one more. I talk to people who are in the job they want, they are doing the work that they really want to do. Their problem isn’t money.

Their problem is the system in which they currently work.

You see, they have big goals and dreams for their students. They know exactly what they need to do to achieve those goals. But they feel restricted by the bureaucracy of their jobs.

Is there a rule or policy that you feel is keeping you from really doing the things you should be doing to build the school you know you need to build?

How would you do your job differently if bureaucracy wasn’t an issue?

Here’s why these questions are so very important. A lot of times we see the obstacles of money or bureaucracy and they feel so real and so restrictive that we stop dreaming and they become our new reality. We limit ourselves and the work that we are called to do by the barriers and over time, we lose sight of the possibilities. The limit becomes our new upper limit and that’s as far as we can see.

So just for now, imagine what would you do if those barriers didn’t exist? I’m not asking you to do anything about those barriers yet. Nor am I asking you to ignore them. Those barriers are real.

But just for a moment, I want you to think, what would happen if they weren’t real? What would I be doing that I am not doing or what would I be doing differently?

Allow yourself to dream a bit so that you can recconect with your zone of genius.

Question #2: What do you do that doesn’t even seem like work?

I mean, what could you do all day long without even thinking about it? What do you do now that you cannot HELP but do?

For me, I cannot help but learn and then tell others what I’ve learned. I listen to a new podcast and for the next week, I’m thinking about it and telling everyone who will listen about what I’ve learned.

I remember one time on our honeymoon, my husband and I were having lunch and started talking to a couple of guys at the table next to ours.

One of them mentioned that he had always wanted to start his own business.

Before I could help myself we had mapped out his business on the back of a napkin.

My husband just sat there shaking his head. Here we are on our honeymoon and I am doing pro-bono consulting and coaching.

But I couldn’t help myself.

That’s how you can start to recognize your zone of genius. What do you do without even thinking about it.

I have a friend who we call our own personal Julie McCoy and for those of you who don’t know who that is, she was the cruise director on the Love Boat. And if you don’t know what the Love Boat is, well, I can’t help you.

Anyway, whenever we get together, she cannot help but coordinate our activities and make sure that everyone has a good time. It’s really her zone of genius.

I have a colleague who cannot help but ask challenging questions. I mean we’ll be talking about what we are going to have for lunch and he’ll say, but is that what you REALLY want to eat or is that what you are just used to getting?

Question #3: In your work, what produces the highest amount of satisfaction and abundance relative to the time you spend doing it?

You see, in our jobs, we all have different things that we're doing all day. When I was an administrator, I did master schedule. I observed teachers, I gave teachers feedback, I did discipline with kids. I monitored the halls. I coordinated with the custodial staff. I submitted paperwork for federal requirements, I interacted with my secretaries. I planned meeting agendas. I sat in on other people's meetings. You get the point: there's a ton of different things, but of all the things that you do every single day, what's the thing that you do where you get way more joy and abundance and satisfaction from relative to the time you spend doing it?

​In other words, you could do that one thing and then the whole rest of your day you're just happy because you did. You had a great conversation with a teacher or you're just ecstatic because you were able to intervene in a life of a kid who was heading in the wrong direction and get that kid turn back around or you are so happy because you spent two hours grinding on that master schedule and for the rest of the day you're just smiling because you feel like you've really conquered the world.

For me, it was having conversations with teachers. I used to love it. I didn't love it. At first I had to figure it out. At first I was using what the system told me to do, but that conversation always felt stilted and artificial and when I finally figured out how to get to the root cause of a teacher's practice and shape the conversation around that, I began to really love those conversations.

I might spend an hour and conversation with the teacher and the rest of the day I'm running around and you know, nothing else goes right and I still feel like I had a great day. What is that thing for you? Think about all the things that you do during the day. What's the thing that gives you the greatest joy you might even want to think back to when you were a teacher?

So when I was a teacher, you know what I loved. I love two things. I loved to do planning lessons, really figuring out how to help my kids learn. I loved planning, but the other thing I loved was once when I taught students writing I loved sitting down with kids and helping them figure out how to make their writing better. I love try to tell them, okay, here's the root cause for why this paper is not working and here's how to fix it, and then seeing them turn in the next paper and seeing their progress.

That was the thing that I loved the most, that gave me the highest amount of satisfaction and the highest amount of abundance. So there's a pattern to my career because even now in the work that I do, what I have loved the most is sitting down with my clients, helping them figure out the root cause of why something isn't working in their districts and helping them figure out how to deal with it and solve it for good. So you'll notice when you start thinking about this, what the pattern looks like throughout your career, and you'll begin to see these are the things that give you clues as to your zone of genius. ​

Question #4: What is your unique ability? In other words, when are you at your best?

So you know, think about that. You know, when I first started thinking about that for myself, one of the things that I thought about was that I was well in conversations, but not all conversations went great. I can remember several conversations where you know, I jumped in and started talking and ended up inadvertently offending the person I was talking to - so it's not conversations.

So then I started thinking about which conversations do I have that give me that joy that are so successful and I started focusing on them. What is the pattern? What's the difference between the conversations where I felt really successful but also really fulfilled and the conversations in which I didn't feel successful or fulfilled and I started to notice a pattern, but conversations where we talk about things that are substantive, that get to the root cause. Those are the conversations where I get the most satisfaction and fulfillment and it's not just a selfish thing because those are the conversations where the teachers get the most satisfaction and fulfillment. They feel hopeful. So it's not just that I. I love having conversations with people where I'm coaching them. My unique ability is that I can very quickly here's somebody, talk about their issue, pinpoint the root cause, and then help them deal with the real issue so it cut through all the nonsense and get to the real issue and get it solved.

That's what my unique ability is. Now, a lot of us, we don't spend enough time thinking about our unique ability. We think, oh well, you know, I don't want to be vain or conceited. You know, you need to stop that because if you understand what your unique ability is, you can more easily and more effectively serve people. Plus you understand when are you at your best. 

Where you do really shine? What is your zone of genius, and then you can begin to share that with the world instead of haphazardly stumbling across your zone of genius and not even realizing it because you haven't taken the time to really critically examine yourself.

When are you at your best and if you're not sure, if you can't figure it out, ask your colleagues, what am I at my best? 

Ask your loved ones, when am I at my best? And hear what they have to say. You'll start to hear a pattern emerge and that's really important because question number five is when you are at your best, what is the exact thing you are doing? Notice how we started out with kind of bigger, broader philosophical questions, but now we're really narrowing it in. 

Question #5: When you are at your best, what is the exact thing you are doing?

So again, I thought, oh, you know, I'm good at having conversations and the conversations that really work are the ones we get to the root cause and the ones that don't work as well as the ones we don't get to the root cause. So what's the exact thing I'm doing what I'm doing, the root cause and the exact thing I'm doing is I'm listening to people and I'm processing what they have to say and I'm not distracted.

So that means that when I have conversations, I try to make sure that I'm not distracted. I'm listening intently when people have to say, and I'm processing what they have to say. Rather than just waiting for my turn to speak again, the more you can narrow in on your zone of genius, the more you can begin to incorporate it in your life for godless of whether or not you are in your dream job, regardless of whether or not you're in the right circumstances for you at the particular moment. You can turn any job into a zone of genius job. If you know what your zone of genius is and you can begin to bring it on your work, it actually can cure your burnout and give you joy and satisfaction and fulfillment in your work. and that brings me to our last question.

Question #6: When you are doing that thing, what is it that you love the most about it?

So I'll use myself as an example. Again, when I sit down and I and I can finally get to the root cause, when I'm really listened to somebody and I really get focused on them, I love a couple of things about it. One thing is that I love the connection of being in synergy with another person. The second thing is I love getting it. I love the aha moment that I get for myself and then I can bring it to somebody else, too. I love when we can say, yes, this is it. I get a little closer. I get satisfaction from that. And then the third thing is I feel like once you understand the root cause of your problem isn't as big of a problem anymore because now you know how to solve it and so I'd love giving people hope.

I love taking somebody who feels, you know, just not sleeping at night because because they're up worrying about this thing. I'd love giving them hope that this thing can not be solved at like being a part of that. And it was true when I was a teacher. It's true whether or not I'm working in education or I'm doing something totally different in my life. That's the thing I love about it. That's the thing that gives me energy and gets me through the day. What's your thing? What's the thing that, that, that you love the most about doing what you love to do and I want you to get down, you know, not just like, well, I get really satisfied when I see the light bulb moment. What is it about the light bulb moment that's so satisfying for you? Oh, I love, you know, doing a project and getting it completed.

I love that feeling of completion. Why do you love that feeling of completion? I really want you to dig deeper in this and here's why. If you can understand what makes you happy, then you can begin to be intentional about putting yourself in situations where you can be happy more often you see we're burned out because a lot of us have are going through life and we're not being intentional about what we're doing. We know we are, have a zone of genius. We have our bodies are telling us, you know, sending us signals that we're not in the right work or we're not doing the right work the right way and we just ignore it. If you start paying attention to it, if you start being intentional, this is what makes me happy. So this tells me these are the clients that can work with.

I can work, I want to work with clients. I feel like I can actually help. I want to work with clients where I feel like I can actually give them. I don't want to work with clients where I can't do that. It helps me pick the kinds of people I want to work with, so I'm mixed. I'm working with people that I can actually help and that will bring me joy and that they'll get some joy and value from what I do. I don't want to do activities that are hopeless. I only want to work on activities that are going to be helpful and if I can't figure out how to make something to find the hope and the activity, it's really hard for me to get a lot of energy around that. So I need to be careful about the kinds of kinds of work that I do, that I need to make sure that I'm working on in places where I feel like I can actually make a difference or I'm not going to be happy once I understand that about myself, I can shape my life both in my career and in my job and outside of it to feed my zone of genius, to occupy my zone of genius.

And when I do that, I get into that zone, it doesn't feel like work. I'm still working hard, but it feels good. If you're going to work hard, it shouldn't feel good at least most of the time. If you're gonna work hard, shouldn't you be doing work that you felt called to do that, that you're satisfied doing otherwise? Why are you doing it?

I really want you to spend some time with these questions this week...

and I'll go over them one more time just so that you have them. 

Question number one, is it outside influences like money or bureaucracy weren't an issue? What would you most love to do?

Question number two is what do you do that doesn't even seem like work?

Question number three is in your work, what produces the highest amount of satisfaction and abundance relative to the time you spend doing it?

Question number four, what is your unique ability? In other words, when you're at your best, what are you doing? When are you at your best?

Question number five, when you're at your best, what is the exact thing that you're doing? So you're starting to pinpoint a little bit more. 

Question number six, when you're doing that thing, what is it that you love the most about it?

By the way, these six questions come from the book, the big leap by gay hendricks, and if you have time, I think it's a great book to read to really help you zone in on your zone of genius.

Okay, now before we go,..

don’t forget to go ahead and get your ticket to Builder’s Lab 2019. It’s a great way to take 3 days during the school year to get refocused, re-energized, and re-invested in reaching your school goals this year.

Got a teacher who is being really resistant? We’ll help you figure out how to reach her at Builder’s Lab and get her on board this year. Are you starting to see signs of toxicity in your school culture. We’ll show you how to nip that in the bud at Builder’s Lab before it has a chance to derail your culture. Having trouble getting the most important work done? We’ll help you build the systems you need at Builder’s Lab.

Remember, Builder’s Lab is a small, intimate intensive where you can get coaching and support and personal attention so it’s the perfect place and time to step away from your busy school for a few days and get some perspective and support while you still have time to implement the changes this school year. Visit https://mindstepsinc.com/builders-lab/ to get your ticket today.

And don’t forget, there is still time to join the Jumpstart Your Education Consulting Business Challenge going on right now. Do this. Take out your phone right now and text the words JUMPSTART2018 to the number 33444 and sign up.

Once you sign up, you can join the private facebook group, catch up on the trainings we’ve done so far and still be able to join the live trainings and the bonus live coaching call. Again text the word JUMPSTART2018 to the number 33444 and sign up.

Next week...

Okay, next time we’re going to tackle an obstacle that I see MOST school leaders face. We all know that we need to delegate more tasks to others, but we either aren’t sure how to delegate, or we’ve tried to delegate tasks in the past and it hasn’t worked out and it just seems easier to just do it ourselves. But, as long as you don’t delegate, you will end up doing work that is outside of your zone of genius instead of spending the majority of your time doing the thing that you are uniquely designed to do and that will bring you and others the most joy.

So next time, I’m going to break down how to delegate #LikeABuilder.

Bye for now. See you next time. 

Thank you for listening to the School Leadership Reimagined podcast for show notes and free downloads visit https://schoolleadershipreimagined.com/

School Leadership Reimagined is brought to you by Mindsteps Inc, where we build a master teachers.