People often say to me, "You're a genius!" in response to my work. I almost always reply, "Thank you so much, but what you're actually witnessing is me using my Genius, not being a genius."
My Genius is being an insight excavator, meaning I can easily and quickly identify patterns in human behavior data, draw insights, and create action.
And even if you don't know it yet, you have a Genius, too. How many times have people told you what they think you're best at? Probably pretty frequently. But the problem with this is that they're often commenting on the result of your work ("Wow, you really solved that problem quickly!"), not the unique way you do work and get those results.
When we talk in terms of what we achieve versus what we actually do, it makes really knowing yourself complicated and confusing. This is why I always help my clients come up with a name for their Genius--the thinking or problem-solving that they're best at. It's an invaluable tool to not only remind themselves what they're amazing at, but more importantly to educate others. It comes in handy when working in teams, looking for a new job, networking, and telling people what it is you actually do.
Here's an easy way to name your Genius.
First, start taking note of the moments that you're "in the zone." This means you're fired up intellectually--the thinking or problem-solving you're doing really energizes you. Notice each time this happens and start looking for patterns. Write these down.
Then, take a look at the list below as a starting point for naming your Genius. I've bucketed them into six categories that, in my experience, most people typically fall into. And if none of these names resonate, feel free to create your own!
Keep in mind the language must resonate with you and be fun to share--you want it to feel like a perfect description of what you do best. Practice using the name you choose again and again and refine it, as you need to make sure it's a perfect fit.
Process Creation: Making Everything Work Better
Chaos-to-Order Problem-Solver: You thrive by bringing order to chaotic situations.
Ideal Process Developer: You can easily create processes that bring order to disorganized situations.
Improvement Strategist: You're constantly looking for ways to improve processes, people, and work by streamlining the way things operate.
Good-to-Great Strategist: You're challenged by transforming an existing process or business function from good to great.
Visionary: Redefining the World
Barrier-Breaking Visionary: You're challenged when you can think outside the box and see beyond conventional wisdom.
Opportunity Excavator: You start with a visionary idea and begin to refine it by unearthing opportunities in creative places.
Possibility Architect: You're intellectually fired up by the act of tackling seemingly impossible problems and finding and building rare solutions.
Vision Strategist: You bring people together to form a vision or a big movement, and then help create a clear path as to how it is manifested.
Strategist: Creating the Path
Efficiency Strategist: You're challenged and engaged by reviewing problems from every angle and creating better, more efficient ways to reach the end result.
People Strategist: You have an innate ability to connect with people, get their buy-in, and deliver what they need by providing the right human-related solutions.
Possibility Strategist: You're challenged by thinking big and creating something beautiful from something basic, and by creating something new that's never been thought of before.
Results Strategist: You're challenged when presented with a goal to achieve and thrive in creating the process that will ensure good results are attained consistently.
Synthesizing: Bringing People and Ideas Together
Collaboration Strategist: You're challenged and engaged by bringing people together in order to solve a problem.
Diagnostic Problem-Solver: You ask questions to understand the entire problem or scenario, and you zero in on a clear and actionable solution.
Discerning Ideator: You're most challenged when you're dissecting or breaking down problems and then generating lots of creative solutions on how they can be improved upon or moved forward.
Synthesis Expert: You're challenged by the process of bringing multiple concepts together to form one hypothesis or solution.
Catalyzing: Igniting Opportunity
Connection Catalyst: You're challenged by approaching problems via the connections that you can create in order for things to get done.
Holistic Crisis Problem-Solver: You're challenged by solving problems that occur in a crisis--your balanced ability to see all angles is even more appreciated and needed when times get tough.
Social Advocate: You're challenged by thinking through decisions and always considering the people side of things. You innately think in terms of how everything will impact people.
Team Maximizer: You're exceptional at solving team efficiency problems that don't have an obvious solution.
Builders: Ideas and Structures
Creative Results Architect: You're totally engaged when you're able to dive into a challenge and engineer an unconventional result to solve a problem.
Experience Producer: You're engaged by the process of creating a sensory experience, such as an event (versus a tangible product).
Innovative Rebuilder: You're challenged by the process of taking something apart and rebuilding it into something that works better.
Language and Idea Architect: You're in the zone when you're coming up with a new idea that no one has thought of before or putting words together that make something compelling.
Once you've found the language that works for you, start using it! It should feel natural and fun to share it with others and make you feel seen and understood in the process. Enjoy!