If You Want a Foundation to Stand On, Choose Brilliance

Our work at Crafted Leadership provides a platform for leaders to know, claim, and contribute from the wellspring of their unique talents. This skill is paramount for leaders’ personal mastery and is of service to their organizations. We call this skill “choosing brilliance.”

Choosing brilliance means operating in a deliberate way such that your skills optimally match the opportunities for action. You experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with an activity or interaction. You have a sense of creating what you want.

Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state of optimal experience “flow.” Some call it being “in the zone.” We use the term “Zone of Brilliance” (adapted from Gay Hendricks’ bestselling Big Leap book and work).

For leaders, when we advocate for them to “choose brilliance,” we mean for them to get intentional about 1) discovering their Zone of Brilliance and 2) prioritizing the time they work in their Zone of Brilliance. Why? Because they’re most effective in this zone – but more importantly, as Csikszentmihalyi’s research suggests – being in this zone is true happiness.

Your Zone of Brilliance describes the state when you are working at a peak level of creativity and productivity - and doing so with a high level of satisfaction in what you are doing. Evidence you’re operating in your Zone of Brilliance is when time seems to disappear, you’re so involved nothing else seems to matter, and new ideas or openings seem to come to you without effort.

This video of Chris Sharma’s ropeless climb across a freestanding lime arch in the Mediterranean Sea (which took months to accomplish) is a beautiful example of an individual engaged in his Zone of Brilliance.

Choosing Brilliance Benefits You and Your Organization

Why is it important to own your brilliance? Because owning your talents gives you capacity, strength, and energy.

As global visionary and author Lynne Twist says, when you look objectively at your own talents and unique gifts and tell the truth about them, without false modesty but with the humility that comes from really looking at who you are and standing with confidence on that foundation - from that place you become an inspiring leader.

Odell Brewing Company CEO Wynne Odell’s experience of moving from CFO to CEO is an illustration of choosing brilliance. Whereas the CFO role left her feeling drained, after transitioning to CEO, she said in our interview, “I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do and where I felt I could be most effective... I was not cut out to be an accountant. Moving into the [CEO] role was freeing.”

Stefanie with April, her 17 hand Thoroughbred
Stefanie with April, her 17 hand Thoroughbred

One of our clients left a well-paying corporate job – where she was successful but unfulfilled – to leap into her Zone of Brilliance and start her own business as a horse trainer and teacher. At Inspiration Riding Academy, Stefanie trains hunter-jumper horses and teaches people to ride and compete on different breeds. She is uniquely suited for this role, able to form extraordinary connections with horses and experiencing a constant sense of purposeful joy in teaching others. When she speaks about riding and teaching, she exudes confidence and enthusiasm that is a cornerstone of a Zone of Brilliance.

When you have respect and appreciation for your unique talents, you are of service to your organization because you have clarity about what you can contribute. You know the value you bring to the organization. And the value you bring adds to the value that the organization creates in the world. Individual talents are part of an organization’s assets. Not acknowledging your individual talents deprives an organization of the full use of its assets.

How to Expand Your Commitment to Brilliance Handout