I enjoyed two posts recently about “WHAT IS YOUR GENIUS?” – Evelyn’s and Dwayne’s.

The way my friend H asks this “What is your genius?” question is
What is the one thing that you do that ONLY YOU can do?

Evelyn Rodriguez writes a couple of weeks ago in “What is Your Genius?” that she was at a party and was asked to write down the answer to the your-genuis question in fifteen minutes. Evelyn writes that this is a question that she would think it takes years and much insight to answer, and so was initially resistant to trying to do the same thing with minutes and a pencil? She writes that the way she jumped into it is through her curiosity and by thinking:

(Write what Allen Ginsberg calls “first thought”, first impulse, go for the raw unpolished unedited uncensored spew your guts forth wear your heart on the page just write as if no one is watching and no one needs to see it. Forget grammar, forget sentences that make sense, quickly before any “but” can sneak in.)

That’s the way to get to your subconscious is by asking details, and not giving yourself time to find a “but.”

And if you want to think about your wonder and genius in a more logical way, Dwayne Melancon of Genuine Curiosity writes how he does it. He writes the post “When are you at your best?” Dwayne says:

“At the recommendation of a mentor of mine I’ve been interviewing people I work with and asking them four simple questions, developed with help from my office mate Gene. The questions are simple and humbling […]:

  • In your opinion, what am I good at? […]
  • What am I not good at? […]
  • What is the highest value I provide to you or the organization? […]
  • How could I double or triple my value to you or the organization? […]

Obviously, I picked people I trust (to be honest, to keep my best interest in mind, etc.) but it’s still difficult to have these conversations with people you admire or respect. Trust me – it’s worth it to power through the anxiety.”

So, whether you want to PLAY (i.e. Evelyn’s style above) or DISCOVER (i.e. Dwayne’s style), it would be fun to try yourself out on this one! In both cases, though, just keep going. You know the little child who asks his Mom, “why is the sky blue?” and she answers that it is the only color that is reflected to our eyes, and then he says, “well, why is that the only color?” and she tells him about how the eye works, and he asks “why is the eye like that?” – be like that little child…. in both the intuitive PLAY and the logical DISCOVER cases, go deeper. Don’t stop at the outer level. Find out what your genius really is.

As Dwayne says:

One thing that can be challenging is to simply listen during these sessions. Fight your impulse to dispute what you hear, or play it down, or even lead your interviewee down a different path. Try to limit your commentary responses to, “Thank you,” or, “I didn’t realize that,” and make liberal use of phrases like, “Tell me more…,” and, “What do you mean by that?”


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