Discovering Your Genius Formula

Discover your greatest, most powerful gifts.

Posted Dec 20, 2010

When someone asks you who you are, it's likely you will answer by your professional title or designation, family role, gender, age or culture. Rarely do we define ourselves by our unique talents, gifts and strengths.

Yet what we access to resolve problems and create fulfilling, rich lives make up not only the foundation of who you are, but also your genius. If genius is defined as your brilliance, wisdom and intelligence in action, then what you doing when you feel fully alive and excited is the formula for your genius.

Once way of discovering your formula is to use a process called Appreciative Dialogue.

Appreciative Dialogue is based on the popular approach to organizational change called Appreciative Inquiry that directs people to build on what's working rather than trying to fix what's not. Taking an appreciative approach, you see the events in your life through a new lens, not the normal critical lens you tend to use when you judge your value. You jump outside of the judgment box that your logical/critical brain likes to play in.

I designed the Appreciative Dialogue technique when I wrote my book Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction to help women identify and show up as their "best self." Using Appreciative Dialogue goes beyond discovering and applying your work strengths. Most people can easily identify what they are good at doing.

Appreciative Dialogue helps people discover their greatest, most powerful and joyful gifts. When you hold an appreciate dialogue with a partner who will freely engage you in the discovery process, you open up a portal for identifying your true contribution to your own growth plus the value you give to others. When you act in alignment with what you discover, you are applying your genius formula.

The Process: How to Hold an Appreciative Dialogue

Step 1. Think of a time in your past when you felt energized, significant, and fulfilled. This moment could have happened yesterday or years ago. Can you recall a particular peak experience?

Now, with this memory in mind, answer the following questions aloud with a partner:

  1. Describe a peak experience where you felt fully alive and fulfilled (this could have been a moment in time in an on-going situation or after you completed an event).
  2. What five things did you contribute to creating this peak experience (do not use broad characterizations such as being a good team player, leader or friend; define specific strengths, personality attributes, powerful emotions, work or life values, special actions)?

Step 2. The listener should encourage you to find five distinct contributions. She should not judge, analyze or suggest any ideas. She can ask questions to clarify what you share, such as, "When you accomplished the project, what emotions helped you to persevere? What did you value that helped you make the right choices and connections? What did you feel differently about this project or situation that led to great results? What did you do that was special, that other times you have held back? What did you do or feel naturally that led to the amazing result that may be difficult for others to access, express, or experience?"

Step 3.
After you share the gifts, talents and strengths that help you feel fully alive and fulfilled, look at an issue, project or goal you are struggling with.

  1. Look at your Genius Formula. What can you carry forward to the challenge you are now facing?
  2. What is possible for you now?

Now, repeat the steps with your dialogue partner so she can discover her Genius Formula as well.

The intent of Appreciative Dialogue is to teach your brain how to make the shift from focusing on your deficiencies to recognizing and applying your best self to the issues you face. New ideas will appear in the conversation as you connect your positive past with the present moment. You will feel your genius.

Remember to have these conversations often so remind yourself what you possess to best serve you no matter what you are facing. The results will help you revitalize your daily activities
From Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction Dr. Reynolds is available to coach you or to speak to your association or company on how to achieve amazing results with less effort. Contact her at