Are You Doing Your Genius Work, or Are You Pretending to Be Important?

I’m still recovering from a brain injury this summer…

…so I have been trying to establish a routine of rest, being deliberate, and being aware of how my actions impact how I feel. I’ve been deeply involved in recognizing what it is about me that’s the most valuable and what it is that I do out of habit.

I’ve been working to establish a routine that includes taking my medications and supplements, spending time moving each and every day, taking 10–15 minutes out for meditation and centering before starting work, and having a great breakfast that doesn’t get passed to me through a drive-thru window.

The other day, I got a call from a colleague and I instinctively jumped into action mode. “I can fix this!” I declared loudly to my dog who raised her eyebrow at me and put her head back on the pillow. I should have taken that as a sign, but I was too excited to feel needed after my 6-week hiatus.

Before you know it, I was fully involved in doing something that didn’t need to be done right away, and could have been done by someone else.

It was energizing. I loved it.

In my excitement to get to work, I didn’t follow my routine.

I left all that restorative awesomeness right on my bathroom counter.

After about 6 hours of doing that task, I was exhausted, had a migraine, and spent the rest of the evening in a dark room with an ice pack on my head. The next day, I had a migraine hangover of epic proportions.

I’m a go-getter. I’m a high performer. I’m a rocket scientist and an herbalist who creates health strategies for people who walk out of their doctor’s office with the advice — “This is your new normal. Get used to it.”

I’m the person you can count on to do stuff when that stuff seems too hard to do. I solve the unsolvable problems. I’ve been feeling like I need to jump on anything that crosses my path simply to remind people that even though I’ve been away, I’m still amazing.

I failed here, big time. I didn’t express my value. What I communicated was that I’m not able to do what I used to do.

Here’s how I’d redo that morning.

Take the call from my colleague and talk with them for a few moments about the urgency, the importance, and the expectations for the project. By gathering this key information, I can make a wiser decision about how to spend my time and effort on the task. Maybe spread it out over a few days, or find someone who can help me do parts of it that aren’t my genius work.

Then, get back to my routine. Take care of my own needs first, because satisfying those needs builds my resilience, and resilience is a key part of productivity. Finish making my chai. Sit in meditation for a few moments. Open my planner and set the strategy for the day.

With a plan in place, my needs addressed, and my mind focused on the most important things for me to do today, I can step confidently into doing the work that brings value. I am no longer caught up in the emotional draw of being wanted or the frantic rush of overcommitment. I have the freedom that comes from perspective and the calm that comes from preparation.

This is how I do my genius work.

What structure do you need to do yours?


Lisa Akers is an herbalist and spaceship builder. Learn more about her and how she can help you find a better path to health and wellness.


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