The Genius Habit by Laura Garnett is a delightful exploration about how one habit can dramatically change your whole life.
The author struggled with finding the right job for herself. She tried many things including marketing at Capitol One and being an au pair. Soe jobs fed her soul and others sucked it dry.
In her mid-30’s, she discovered her magic was to help individuals improve their performance at work by learning who they were, owning their performance, and the building a career instead of floating from job to job.
Discovering Her Inner Fire
By helping others, Laura helped herself. She finally felt truly alive when helping her clients. And her business grew steadily.
She had to deal with family telling her that she was going to fail, that she’d be homeless, and that she needed an MBA before starting out.
Thankfully she didn’t listen to them.
She did have a support network of two other women who had also decided to start their businesses. I think those two keys were essential.
First, decide in your own mind what you’re going to do. Then set up a network of like-minded people who will hold you accountable.
Laura opens this section by challenging us to bring our unique thinking to work as well as challenge our understanding of what a genius is.
Your genius is unique to you. It’s the distinctive way you think and solve problems. That is to say, it’s more about how you approach work rather then a measurement of your intellect.
When you tap into your genius at work, you’re cultivating your skills. That allows you to blossom and truly ignite your life.
What Is the Genius Habit
The genius habit is knowing how to bring the best aspects of your true self to work on a consistent basis.
When you have this habit, you ensure that you’re always conscious of your performance and its direction. Having an awareness is what makes the difference.
Often we do things mindlessly and that become a habit. When you are conscious and continuously trying to improve along your genius, then you’ve made the difference.
You will find yourself enjoying your work and life more when you’re bringing more of yourself to the table.
How Do I Identify My Genius?
Laura Garnett has a section in the book to help you identify this. There are also worksheets to help you reflect on positive and negative experiences.
Then she encourages you to name your genius. Some examples she gave were:
- Needle Finder: you are driven by the process of finding solutions that are extremely hard to find
- Possibility Architect: You are intellectually fired up by the act of tackling seemingly impossible problems and finding and building rare solutions.
- Possibility Strategist: You are challenged by thinking big and creating something beautiful from something basic.
- Synthesis Expert: You are challenged by the process of bringing multiple concepts together to form one solution.
We humans are happiest when we feel we have a purpose. We like having a positive impact in the world.
Yet you’re often told to find your passion.
Unfortunately this well-meaning advice has led to a lot of people feeling frustrated.
Passion is what brings you joy in the moment. And it’s not part of your genius.
But finding a purpose can last a lifetime.
Once you know your genius, it’s time to find your purpose. Ask yourself: what does fulfillment at work look like to you?
How will you measure your impact? And does it truly resonate with you?
If not, then you’re not living your purpose.
The author went into quite a bit of depth as to different types of impact and how it motivates you. She discussed intrinsic (internal) motivation versus extrinsic (external) motivation.
When you finish reading this section, you’ll have a clear idea as to what kind of job you want to do and company you want to work for.
This section surprised me a bit. Laura Garnett said to stop equating achievements with happiness. We need to learn to motivate ourselves without needing to be pat on the head and told we did well.
We should be working for our own desire and find joy in the doing and not in the end result.
She acknowledges that we live in a goal-oritented, achievement-based world where we’re told that job satisfaction comes from winning.
But don’t you feel a little exhausted constantly chasing one achievement after the other?
And when you tap into your genius and enjoy the process of work, you’re maximizing your potential and living your best life instead of just living for temporary wins.
Similar to joy, your self-worth is about your internal confidence and not about the praise you receive.
Spend time reflecting on situations that arise and decide what you can learn from it. Then in the future, you will have a better idea as to how to handle the situation more confidently.
You may also realize that something from your distant past is triggering actions that are no longer helpful.
When you are mindful, you can make different choices in the moment.
The final key is to see adversity as an opportunity. Now is the time to eliminate your fear of failure.
You can do this through grit and curiousity.
Grit means to never give up no matter what happens.
What links these together is that they both require the kind of effort that leads to innovative thinking. You know the story about Thomas Edison and all of his “failures.”
They taught him how to do something by learning how not to do something.
As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, it’s essential to embrace mistakes so you can grow.
One of my favorite takeaways from this section was the idea that enthusiasm is common but endurance is rare.
When you persevere, you will grow and do what many others can’t.
My Final Thoughts
Laura Garnett believes that you absolutely can wake up every morning and love what you do.
The key is to tap into your personal genius.
When you have made it a habit of bringing your best self consciously to your day, you will find you are living a happier life.
You will also identify when you’re not at your best because you’ll be able to connect feelings of boredom or procrastination to the situation. If you’re not feeling your best, that’s a cue to step back and evaluate the situation.
That will lead to you feeling more confident and capable.
And I think the best way to sum up this book is when Laura Garnett said, “It’s not about doing what you love; it’s about doing what you are meant to do.”
What makes you feel most alive with your work?