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An excerpt from The 15-Minute Method, by Sam Bennett

I often use the word creative, and I know that might turn some people off. Somehow the world has conflated the words creative and artistic. But those two things are not synonyms.

  • Creative refers to the talent of innovative problem-solving.
  • Artistic refers to a talent in the arts.

Not everyone is artistic. Everyone is creative.

We are all creating, all the time. We create dairy-free meals and vacation plans and holiday parties. We create stories about people we see on the street. We create homes and knitting patterns and lifelong friendships and family traditions and in-jokes. Our creations make up our world.

You may think that because you don’t make visual art, write, or perform, you are not creative. Or maybe you think creative people are kind of weird. (To which I say: Honey, everyone is weird. Embrace your weird.)

Everyone is creative, and more than that, everyone has a Zone of Creative Genius. [1]

If you are wondering what your Zone of Creative Genius is, answer these questions swiftly and without pondering:

  1. What’s the one thing I love doing, no matter what?
  2. What’s something I’ve always been naturally good at?
  3. What’s something that other people praise me for, but I think isn’t that big of a deal?
  4. What’s something that, if someone woke me up at 3 a.m. and said, “Hey, we’re going to go do XYZ right now,” I would be up in a flash and looking for my shoes?
  5. What’s something that I spend quite a bit of money and time on, and my family and friends think it’s a bit crazy?

If you’re still not sure, consider this: In every office I’ve ever been in, there is a “birthday person.” The birthday person is someone in the office who takes it upon themselves to keep track of everyone’s birthday and make sure there’s a card and cupcakes in the break room. And if you ask them if they mind the extra work, they’ll say, “Oh, no! I like doing this. It’s fun for me.”

That birthday person has a natural gift for celebration and an ability to make people feel special. That’s their Zone of Creative Genius. And if that person wanted to start a business, they might do well to leverage this gift for getting the party started and go into the events business. Or perhaps they’d do well in HR, creating policies and practices that help employees feel seen, heard, and valued.

You can also think of your Zone of Creative Genius this way: If you have ever solved a problem differently than anyone else has ever solved the problem, congratulations — you are a creative genius. And the way in which you solved the problem is the key to your Zone of Creative Genius.

Most people have a few Zones of Creative Genius. Highly creative people have multiple Zones of Creative Genius. They are naturally good at a lot of things. You may know someone like that — the artistic ones are pretty easy to spot, but the non-artistic highly creative people are often hiding in plain sight.

You might be especially good at communicating with animals. You might have a gift for giving compliments that make others feel seen. Your creativity might express itself in a gift for systems, or numbers, or logic, or skepticism.

Your Zones of Creative Genius might go unnoticed by you, because they come so naturally. You might want to make a running list of hobbies you’ve loved, documentaries that fascinate you, odd fixations, and compliments you get that cause you to think to yourself, “But everyone is like this, aren’t they?” (nope — they aren’t) and see if you can find some commonalities.

Also, you might want to ask some trusted friends the things they’ve noticed you are good at.

Figuring out your one or more Zones of Creative Genius can be a helpful step in determining how you want to spend your 15 minutes a day.

  1. Hat tip to Gay Hendricks and his groundbreaking work on Zones of Genius in both The Big Leap and The Genius Zone. Both are great reads.

Excerpted from the book The 15-Minute Method: The Surprisingly Simple Art of Getting It Done. Copyright© 2024 by Sam Bennett. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

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