Category Archives: performance

the Zone

“You’re right in the work, you lose sense of time, you’re completely enraptured, you’re completely caught up in what you’re doing … there’s no future or past, it’s just an extended present in which you’re making meaning …”  Mark Strand

What does it mean to be in the “zone”?    For some it is a magical experience where time seems to stand still and the mind and body are fused in harmony.   Some would call it the perfect moment a synchronous dance between the external world and your internal world.   Athletes are in the zone when they are at their peak in terms of experience, this harmony, or flow, or being in the zone often produces great results.

The key ingredients to getting into the zone include:

1. A clear goal

2. Activity that provides feedback

3. A focus that becomes intense.

The idea is to achieve a balance between anxiety (fear of failure) and not being challenged enough (the goal is too easy).   Somewhere between failure and challenge is the zone, a zone of mental harmony and maximum results.

 Some athletes prepare to get into the zone by using visualization techniques.  

“We have all experienced times when, instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate. On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration”, writes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi the author of the book, “Flow”.      Getting into that experience even for a short amount of time is a worthy experience.   Staying in that experience for a long period of time proves to be a challenge.   The zone is a space between challenge and ability and as the ability increases there is a shift out of the zone.   If the challenge increases without a corresponding increase in ability then there is too much tension to stay in the zone.

The zone is a place of harmony, appropriate challenge, the right frame of mind and sufficient capability to maintain the experience.

When have you been in the zone?

What was it like to be in the zone?

What kept you in the zone?

The zone is emphasized in sport, but what about other areas of life and how do you get into the zone?

 

reinvention … you … your organization …

“People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.’
Warren G. Bennis

Reinvent yourself.    There is no denying that the rate of change for organizations are changing fast, yet many of our processes and principles rely on methods that are old, very old in an age of exponential growth.

In many cases we are using principles and processes that were developed for the industrial age and many  of those processes are outdated.   Organizations are struggling to find their identity in a time of unprecedented change.  

The old ways are indeed the old ways.   New ways of thinking and acting are required today and certainly for the future.  Gary Hamel a leader in business thinking has some suggestions on how organizations need to change.

After looking at the model Gary Hamel explores, what do you think you need to do to keep pace in the world we live in today?  

1. Adaptability – new ideas, new methods, new processes are informing organizations and people on how to act and thrive in an ever changing world.  How adaptable are you?

2. Resilience – the ability to respond to events quickly and without becoming overly emotionally constrained.  When change occurs are you quick to respond or do you find yourself trapped in the past?

3. Outlook – what does your future look like, are you focused on the past or on what you can do today?

4. Social Intuition – I notice people their actions and emotions or people blend into the environment and I don’t notice them.   What do you notice about the people around you?   Are they visible and important or invisible and unimportant?

5. Being self-aware –  Who are you?   Do you really know the answer?  Are you open to finding out?

6. Attention –  I have the ability to put my energy into the right thing at the right time or my energy is scattered and little gets accomplished.   Where are you putting your attention?

 Organizations implement processes that support their key goals.  Anyone who is a part of an organization needs to have personal processes that support their activity in that organization.   If you are finding yourself mimicking patterns of the past and struggling to adapt to the new organizational landscape then what things do you want to change so that you can contribute to a larger measure?

Reinvention isn’t something that others or organizations do, it is something you do to respond to fast change.   Practice being more adaptable, resilient, generating a positive outlook, being aware of others, being self-aware and putting your attention into the things that are the most important.  

Practice reinventing yourself.   Here take a look at what reinvention can do in organziations.

Joy – The responsibility equation

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”   Albert Ellis

Joy, what is it?

Is joy happiness?   Is joy the sustained sense of well-being that we experience when our needs are met and some of our wants are met?   Is joy a sense of contentment in the midst of all of life’s circumstances?

Some people would say that joy has no definition, it is a state of mind that defies description.   It is a feeling that is different for every person.    Let’s look at an example, two stewardesses on a plane with basically the same job, the same pay, the same circumstances and yet one is happy and the other is grumpy.    The conditions on the plane are the same for both stewardesses, yet one is happy and the other isn’t.   What is the difference?

Where does joy come from?    Does joy come from things outside of you?    Joy seems to be manufactured by the interpretation of the situation you  see yourself in right now.   If you find yourself being anxious, upset, worried, fretting, angry, or depressed about how things are in your life there will be little space for joy.   If you find yourself at peace with what you have and where you are in life right now then you’ll probably sense some joy and happiness.

The difference it seems between feeling joy and not having joy is about taking responsibility for joy.   If you take 100% responsibility for your life then you will start experiencing more joy in your life.   Responsibility means that you are doing all that you can to create the outcomes you want in life for you.   It means that you are giving more, you are more concerned with others than yourself.  It means that you give with the expectation of getting nothing in return.

For many people getting more stuff provides some level of increased happiness yet that only lasts a short amount of time.   Hedonic adaptation takes over and that new car, new home, new bike, new clothes, or new something only has a short impact on happiness.      So while new things provide momentary happiness that happiness dissolves within a relatively short amount of time and as a result there is an increased sense of dissatisfaction which increases the pressure to get a happiness fix.

The responsibility equation replaces those momentary happiness fixes with a sense of long-lasting joy.   That is taking 100% responsibility for all things, giving more and doing more.   Think about it, what would living the 100/0 equation do for you?

Take a look:

Intention

Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself: What is my truest intention? Give yourself time to let a yes resound within you. When it’s right, I guarantee that your entire body will feel it.   Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine

It is what gets you from point A to point B, intention.   It is a motivating and driving force that enables you to do and to be.   Everything that you do starts with with an idea.  The idea grows in size and power until there is action.   The natural growth of that idea into an energetic force is intention.

Intention to do.   Intention to be.   Intention is like a compass pointing you in a direction.    Attention that follows intention is what starts you on that journey to reach that goal.   The intention precedes attention to the goal.

Often what is needed to transform and idea or thought into intention is a catalyst.    Words can acts as catalysts,  words like “creativity”, “kindness”, “love”, “beauty”, “abundant”,  and “receptive”.

Take each word and expand the meaning of the word in terms of being a catalyst for doing and being.

Creativity

What can you create?    What idea can you take and add to it.    How is creativity like a flower?

 

 

Kindness

What does kindness look like to you?   What acts of kindness can you do today?  What does intentional kindness look like?    What does kindness feel like?

 

Love

What is the intention of love?   What does it take to be intentional about love?  What can you do to be intentional about love today?

 

 

Beauty

Observe.   Take some time out to discover beauty around you.   Just look and notice.   The act of being intentional about noticing beauty may be eye-opening.  What are you noticing?

Abundant

What does abundant mean to you?    Does it mean available?   Does it mean large in quantity?   Does it mean high in quality?   What is abundance?   Lack of want?  What do you have abundance of?    What are you desiring to be more abundant in your life?

Receptive

Open to something new.    How are you being receptive to your thoughts?   How are you looking at your thoughts in terms of creating more abundance, more love, more beauty, more kindness and more creativity?   Intention starts with your ability to receive into your life the very things that surround you today.   Use what you have to get what you want.   Use your creativity, use your kindness, use your love, use the beauty, use your abundant ideas to live with greater intention.

Listen to what Deepak Chopra has to say about intention.   What are you doing to be more intentional about your life?

unconscious living

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.”   Charles D. Gill

“But, I can’t” … you’ve heard this before, maybe those are the words you uttered as well, “I can’t ….”, and if you ask why you might hear the words that are tied to a fear.    Often the words “I can’t” are spoken before there is any conscious thought.  It is as if “I can’t” rolls off the tongue with a high degree of practice, and it does.

What does “I can’t” speak to?   It speaks to fear, a fear of failure, a fear of success or a fear of loss.   “I can’t” really says I am not ready to make a change in my life because I am afraid of what the result could be and that result could be less favorable than I desire.   (It might cost money I don’t have, or It might cause me to lose something I can’t afford to lose right now, or It might make me feel bad, or It might make me look bad, or …. ).

In many cases there are words that we speak that we don’t create but rather words that are spoken in reaction to an event or a thought.   When our language becomes a reflex rather than a response we have trained our brain to do something without thinking about it.   It happens every day.  If you drive a car there is a lot of the driving process which has been pushed out of conscious thought to the point that driving can be unconscious.  (Think about the last time  you drove somewhere and don’t remember the journey).

Let’s say you have made a declaration to create success in your life.  To do that means that you are choosing the unknown.   To make a large shift in your life will push you in a direction in which you are not familiar and that generates fear.   To make steps forward means stepping into areas in which you have little or no experience and means making a choice to live consciously by making small effective choices to advance you in the direction you want to go.

To shift from unconscious living to conscious living is having an important goal, a goal that can become a driving force in your life.   What is your big goal that you are working towards?    Are you letting your programmed response to life stop you or are you taking the steps you need to take to grow and succeed?

be a peak performer

“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.”   Dennis Waitley

In the last blog post I talked about performance zones and looked at the definitions of the two lower zones, the excuse zone and the victim zone.  These zones are where many people spend most of their waking hours.   So many people are finding that life is nothing great and living like life is just a great big pain.   I’ll bet you know some people who are just existing and not enjoying life.  Is that right?   What are they saying and what are they doing?

Isn’t it tiring to listen to someone who is always telling you the reasons why they just couldn’t get it done (whatever that is)?    They always have a story of why they couldn’t and they certainly “would” have if ….

Notice the language that people use.   Is it filled with “Only if” or “If I …” or “I wish …”.   That isn’t the language of high performance that is the language of victim level performance.    Victim level performance takes energy away from others rather than elevating the energy.

What are the attributes of a performer or a high performer and how do you know you’ve met one?   One of the attributes is “energy”.  What kind of energy are they producing?   Performer’s generate energy and give it away and it becomes this infectious smile or attitude that radiates outward.

High performer’s exude energy and charge up others.   Even their bad days are only moments in time rather than most of the time.    High performers have bad days and they know that bad days aren’t the rule.   Low performers think that good days are unusual rather than the rare occasion.

The big difference between a top performer and low performer is the direction the energy flows.   It is a choice that each person makes on what direction their energy flows.   If it flows inward you’re not living your full potential.  If  your energy is flowing outward then you are giving your life meaning.

How do you create high performance?

1. Reduce stress in your life.

2. Increase personal learning

3. Feed  yourself positive material  (turn off the TV, the radio, the email, …)

4. Serve others … give your time.

5. Be clear on your mission/purpose in life.

6. Being intentional about creating high performance.

7. Develop your mental view of yourself – your personal psychology.

8. Being present … being in the moment (not the past or the future).

Eight steps to reach greater performance and all it takes is putting those ideas into practice.   Do you believe that living in performance or high performance is living a better life than living a life of excuses?   If you said, “Yes”, then what is stopping you from being the high performer that you can be?

“It’s not the mountain we conquer-but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary

peak performer …

“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour?s duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What do you think is your normal operating zone?    By zones I mean “victim zone”, “excuse zone”, “performance zone” and “high performance zone” where you spend most of your time.

What zone do your thoughts and actions reside in most of the time?

With stress increasing daily and more and more jobs being lost in an anemic economy many people (over 10%) have lost hope, at least the hope that they would fit into a job that would pay the bills and offer some type of security.    When hope is lost the focus is in making excuses about “why” they are in the position they are in.   As time passes the feeling moves from excuses to being a victim.   The victim mindset is characterized by withdrawal and giving up.   At times the victim will lash out in anger with that anger being directed externally (it is someone’s fault) and with a strong need for sympathy.

What we need today is fewer victim’s and excuse makers and more performers.    Shifting the mindset from victim to owner (performer) takes work and a lot of work.    It takes recognizing that there are opportunities and it takes a desire to step towards opportunity rather falling into the pit of despair.

John Milton wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”    What we feed our minds we soon become.  If we feed our minds and endless stream of excuses that is what we become.  If we don’t believe we are good enough we will shortly become that as well.   If we rise to the level of our thoughts then when are thoughts are decidedly negative our results will be as well.

We choose our thoughts as we choose our performance.   Even though our circumstances may be challenging or very challenging we have a choice to make about out thoughts.   Are our thoughts going to meet the challenge or be beat back by the challenge?

Maybe you know someone who has given up and fallen into the mode of being a victim.   You might know someone with similar circumstances finding opportunity and taking action.   The difference between a performer and a victim are the thoughts rather than the circumstances.

Take a look at Louis Zamperini’s life and see how he was able to overcome  physical and mental abuse by keeping a positive attitude, a high performance attitude.

Next time, how to become a peak performer.