The Genius Zone

Gay Hendricks helps photography and photographers take a big creative leap to brighter days. “The Big Leap and the new book, “The Genius Zone” are both a must-read book. I interviewed Hendricks for the Creative Caffeine podcast, and Gay was kind enough to share his perspective on what keeps photographers out of their Genius Zone. This is a must-listen episode and must-read book.

In the podcast, we discuss the four zones with Gay Hendricks and how it affects our Photography. I have no doubt that the conversation with Gay Hendricks talking photography will help change your life. You deserve to live in the genius zone, and you owe it to the world to start now.


The Zone of Incompetence: is what you’re not good at. You should identify what you do during the course of the day that you struggle with, and what you truly dislike. Is it the retouching of photographs or email management? Is it the bookkeeping part of your business? What ever it is, identify the area of incompetence and hand if off to someone that is qualified. Do this asap!


The Zone of Competence: This zone is tricky because you’re good at the required task, like someone else. You’re not great at it, you’re good at it. In my business, this I this is the bookkeeping aspect. Receipts are a slow form of punishment for me. Tbh, I hate invoicing too. I know that if I invoice, it’ll bring in the money but I still hate the process. When I do it, I’m good at it. This would be something that I need to hand-off.


The Zone of Excellence:  This is that trap, the golden handcuffs that keep you tied down. In the long run, this might cause you the most depression. That’s because you’re doing things that you’re quite good at, I’d say you’re excellent at it. Gay said that when you’re in the zone of excellence, good things happen to you. You might be promoted, booked often or even have articles written about your photography. Ultimately it becomes a trap cause it keeps you out of the genius zone. Maybe you’re excellent at baby portraits but your love is landscape.

Baby portraits keep the bills paid and everyone refers you to their loved-ones but you’d rather be photographing a beautiful lake in Mammoth. That’s what makes your heart happy, but you have bills and it’d would be irresponsible to make a 180 change. See how the zone of excellence can be the pitfall?


The Zone of Genius: This is when you are doing what you love the most! It’s when things feel natural, and what you do is uniquely suited for you. Staying in your zone of genius also means that you’re able to make a contribution to other people. You’re doing it in a way that other people prosper. The zone of genius is where you belong with our artistry. Your clients deserve a photographer that lives there, someone who took the risk to follow what as for their highest good. This is our bullseye.


Gay Hendricks

Gay says, “It’s a rip off to the world not to live your genius. It’s not easy, and it requires a lot of dedication”. In the previous paragraph I had mentioned baby portraits. To you that might any ol’ portrait but to the parents of that child, it’s a miracle baby. They deserve a photographer who lives for every moment of this shoot. They need that energy from you, it is after all, the baby’s first ever photoshoot. They deserve a photographer who lives for capturing every new human with 100% passion. The parents who may or may not have trouble conceiving the child, they too deserve a photographer who lives for this stuff. The world needs your genius, whether it’s babies or food. Maybe it’s another type of photography. I don’t care what you want to do, I just care that you do it.


“If you bring forth your genius, your genius will save you.” Doing stuff that’s not in your genius zone will eventually chip away at you. As a result, it will get you rundown and sick.


If you follow your genius you have more life and love energy. “Your big task in life is to express your full creative potential and if we don’t do that, there’s a part of us that suffers inside” (health/depression).


When you hear the entire episode, it’ll be quite obvious why Gay was the perfect guest choice for the podcast. His contributions for the people flow with ease and confidence. When you hear the episode, you’re hearing a man talk from his zone of genius. The world needs you to reach for your zone of genius. We literally need you to step up and follow your path.




When I asked Gay why he thinks photographers and artists suffer so much, he said “I think that learning to receive is one of the biggest things that I’ve noticed a lot of artists have trouble with. We are good at giving but not from receiving”.


  1. It boils down to one of the 4 zones he said. When a child is creative, they somehow learn to hide, in fact bury it for good. He said, “Artists are afraid to outshine people, fully becoming the star they are. That comes from early childhood. Artists don’t get a very good reception in life”.  The prejudice starts quite early in life.
  2. The second big fear that applies to a lot of creatives: Artists, in particular, have self-esteem issues. We feel there is something fundamentally wrong with us, that we don’t fit or we are fundamentally bad. Even the most wealthy and successful person can have this. They suffer from an upper limit problem that could be paralyzing. As a result, it affects your finances and other times, it has a direct effect on your love life. The upper-limit problem can show itself in a variety of ways.


The upper-limit problem is the act of sabotaging ourselves when things are going well. It’s a set of brakes on your success because of the old fears.What is your upper-limit problem?


Listen to the full Gay Hendricks Podcast Episode to hear about this and many other thoughts that will positively change your life.


If you enjoyed this interview with Gay Hendricks, you might also enjoy my blog post and video about Starving/Struggling Artists.