Renown genius Albert Einstein is reported as saying: "Everybody is a genius." I agree! I know this because one of my great talents is seeing genius in people. Also, for more than a decade, success for me has depended on my ability to place people in roles they love and thrive in. So what I believe is that any of you out there now walking around feeling dissatisfied in your work or feeling lost around what else you might do for a living are not suffering from lack of some type of genius. To the contrary, you have genius, you simply are not yet "woke" to your genius. This blog shares the reasons you are asleep and invites you to get woke through 12 questions.
Why You're Asleep + How to Get Woke
The term "woke" gained popularity in the realm of racial and social justice issues and now is being used more broadly to mean living in higher awareness and consciousness of what's really happening in the world around you. Becoming "woke" is precisely what you need in your professional life in order to love the work you do and contribute to others at your highest potential. In the area of work, the opposite of woke is sleeping in a lower consciousness that is oppressive. In this lower consciousness, you choose jobs standing in a victim position. You choose because you are told a certain line of work has more jobs available, and you enter an area of work not because you want to but because someone you see in authority (a parent, school, or the media) convinced you with logic (and maybe even statistical data) that this was your safest and best career bet.
To become woke around your career path means to see what is behind the opinions of these authorities. For example, you were likely being trained, as early as childhood, by your schools to lean toward work in Corporate America. The classes most American schools value (and don't cut in money crises) are based on what the business world has traditionally valued - i.e. topics like math and science vs. art and fitness. In this focus toward Corporate American values, you likely were never asked to look at your natural talents or interests, and that's a shame because that is where your genius lies. If you're surprised to hear that the American education system is deterring you (and many others) from your genius and most creative expression, and want to dive deeper, check out the most watched of all Ted Talks (57 million!) by Sir Ken Robinson titled "Do Schools Kill Creativity?:"
With this background on why you're asleep to your genius, you can now get woke. You can do this by applying tools I teach to uncover your inner genius, like the 12 questions we'll explore here. Your genius will help you come alive and feel joy in your work and all of life. Your genius will also bring positive change to the world. It is through the creativity of genius that new solutions and systems are built, and old oppressive ones come crumbling down. In getting woke, you ultimately strip away who you thought you were supposed to be (like for me this was being a lawyer)and open your heart to who you were truly born to be. (Read my career story here if you want details on how I did this - twice).
The 12 Questions to Get Woke to Your Genius
Onward now to the magical questions. What you are looking for is your unique genius - which is a combination of your natural talents, experience, and passions. When you are in your genius zone you are having fun, you can easily lose time, and what you're doing feels easy to you. You'll notice that the questions often focus on what you enjoy and what brings you alive. You'll also see that your natural talents and passions have been with you since birth and you've also cultivated them over time even if they were never part of your job. Here are the 12 questions:
What classes did you love and what did you most want to study in school? (May be different from what you chose to study.)
Looking at your full history of jobs and volunteer work, what roles and subjects have you loved the most?
Who are 3 people whose careers you admire and what roles do they play (like writer, strategist, thought leader, teacher)?
What are activities you geek out over - like you can lose time because you enjoy so much?
Have you ever had a moment of such joy in doing something that you said to yourself “I wish I could do that all day for work” or "I would do that for free!" - if so, what were you doing?
What topic can you can identify that you are very passionate about, and you both love to help people with this topic and you get easily frustrated with others who struggle around it?
What "crazy ideas" - meaning fun but somehow impractical - have you had for a business, a fun project, or a dream job?
What roles did you enjoy in games you played as a child (e.g. teacher, detective, priest, mother/father, shop clerk)?
What lines of work or key talents do you see in your family lineage (parents, grandparents, great grandparents, siblings, cousins) that you also identify with in some way?
What challenge have you overcome in your own life that you find yourself passionate to help others?
If you could solve one problem for the world what would it be?
Putting all of your answers together, what do you now see as roles and subject areas of interest coming up consistently that you would love to do as work, if you were absolutely assured of success?
A few tips for working with these questions:
You can answer the questions that feel easy to you first and come back to harder questions later. Also, you can take as much time as you need to finish all 12. You might answer all questions in one sitting but that is not required. You might need several days or weeks. You might need to do months of reflective work before you can answer many of the questions. There is no right way. Whatever resonates for you is best for you. Just get started.
You might work with a support person to answer some or all of the questions because seeing your own genius can be hard. That is precisely why my clients hire me. To identify themes in your various answers and gain insight into your genius, you can benefit from an objective person probing you in places you struggle to find answers and helping you dive deeper by asking additional questions. Work only with someone you trust and who supports you unconditionally. Do not work with anyone who might have an agenda or can bring negativity or limiting beliefs around what might be possible and best for you.
Many people are stumped by the question about childhood interests. Don't skip this one because is it one of the most important. Who you are as a child is unencumbered and your natural talents and interests shine through. Different children have different interests that tip off to their genius! For example, my brother was a little boy who excelled in creating art, was fascinated by the weather, and loved learning about airplanes - his genius is in being a pilot and transportation expert applying creative leadership in creative companies. I was a little girl who loved spiritual books, playing teacher, and coaching my mom through problems using her business empowerment books - my genius is in business and career coaching teaching individuals to identify their top talents and to do work they love.
Your only job in answering these question is to wake up to what talents and passions really lie inside of you that you would love to express in this world. To answer question number 12, you do not need to see a pathway for turning your talents and passions into an actual career or business. That is another subject I can help you with on another day. And that is why I say to answer question 12 as if you were "absolutely assured of success."
Keep in mind that what you identify as your genius may be in something you haven't done yet as a career - and that is ok! I see the trend with many of my clients that they are ripe and ready to move into a new line of work in the skill sets and subject matters that they've been passionate and learning about for a decade or more. Don't dismiss something just because you haven't gotten paid for it yet! 10, 20, or 30 years of experience amounts to huge credentials. Period.
Getting + Staying Woke
Once you get woke to your genius, you want to set yourself up to stay woke! After you identify the work you'd love, it is important to now be sure you surround yourself with other people who are woke or waking up to their genius. Being with like-minded people will help you to pursue your highest purpose and career path. These are the people who will understand your unique journey, which is different from the Corporate America path. Staying woke and on the path less followed takes courage. And while it may not feel the easiest, it is the most fun and free.
About the Author: Gina Marotta loves work and wants you to as well! She writes, speaks, and coaches on career change toward loving your work. Gina is a two-time career changer herself, and she understands the plight of modern professionals as a former criminal defense lawyer, former executive nonprofit leader, and now as an entrepreneur and social justice activist. Gina has been featured in media outlets like: The Huffington Post, WGN Radio, and CBS Chicago News. She has also been recognized among 50 under 50 by Diversity MBA Magazine and one of 100 Women Making a Difference by Today's Chicago Woman Magazine.