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Sanity Notes #015: Doing the work that is yours to do

If you find yourself on the edge of burnout, the biggest cause may be doing work outside your zone of genius.

Matt Munson
Matt Munson
2 min read
Sanity Notes #015: Doing the work that is yours to do
Looking for some support? If now is the time to consider coaching (or a CEO peer circle) reach out here.

When you use a tool for something outside of its intended purpose, it performs sub-optimally. That is why you use a tool kit.

When a tool is used for its precise purpose, that tool doesn't have to strain. It simply does what it was meant to do.

I have struggled much of my life with imposter syndrome. I used to think, especially in my early days as a founder and CEO, that I felt like an imposter because I didn't yet know how to be a good CEO. But as my understanding of startup building grew, I found imposter syndrome would still rear its ugly head.

What I have come to find is often at play for me around imposter syndrome is that the feeling, that heat in my body, that tightness in my chest, the shallow breathing, is often happening not for lack of knowledge but because I am trying to work or show up from a place this isn't really me.

Working from our authentic selves, doing work that we are uniquely equipped to do, that the world values, and that lights us up, is often referred to in the coaching realm as being in our Zone of Genius. I love that.

When I am doing work that is in my zone of genius, I don't feel like an imposter. The best work is happening when I am simply Matt. How can I be faking being Matt?

There is no ‘imposter’ when I am "posing" as me. It is like going to a costume party dressed as ‘Matt.’ How can anyone tell me my costume isn’t spot on?

If you find yourself wrestling with imposter syndrome, it may be time to examine how you define your role and spend your time.

What percent of your work is inside your zone of genius? What percent is outside?

One of the nice things about being a leader, CEO, or founder is you have a lot of leeway in how you design your own role. As a coach, I often witness clients finding more efficacy in their role when they design their own accountabilities and workweeks around their zones of genius.

Archimedes said:

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

But if you use that lever to try and open a can of beans, you would struggle. You would be using the wrong tool for the job.

For which jobs are you the right tool? When do you feel like the wrong tool?

Irrespective of your role, stage, funding, etc., you likely have more opportunity for redesign here than you realize at first glance. The world needs more talented people like you and me living in our zones of genius, giving the gifts that are uniquely ours to give.

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Please feel free to reach out to me if I can be helpful to you in any way. Reply here or DM me on Twitter. Thoughts on improving this newsletter are also always welcome!

With love from LA,


Looking for some support? If now is the time to consider coaching (or a CEO peer circle) reach out here.