Finding your zone

How do you define ‘playing in the zone’ ? I personally like the definition from the sports world, which is considered as ‘a state of heightened concentration experienced by an athlete that enables peak performance.’ We see people achieving seemingly impossible results through their dedication, their passion, their ambition and commitment at competitions; the prize? A gold medal!

But, let’s face it, not all of us are top athletes and will be good enough to be rewarded with gold medals at the Olympic games. The good news is that we do not have to be; we do however need to look at what those people do to get to the top and then use those techniques and core skills in our own lives.

‘Playing in the zone’

In sports, business or any other activity, there are occasionally those moments where we are just living in the moment, with no distractions. Our mind is focused, our attention purely on what we are doing, nothing else exists and we experience pleasure, satisfaction and fulfilment. Does that sound familiar to you? Can you think of a moment when you felt this way when you were doing something?

We all have those moments to a greater or lesser extent, for some they might jump straight into our minds and others might need to think about it for longer to find them. Start reflecting on those moments: What were you doing? Were you alone or were you with someone? Where were you? What was the task/activity about? Which projects that you have worked on gave you this feeling? What task did you take great pleasure from when you accomplished it ? How did you achieve it?

There are may questions you can ask yourself in order to find those moments, but what is it all about?

Having a heightened state of observation about yourself and reflecting on them will build your self-awareness around those experiences and help identify the essence of what made them important. Knowing what you enjoy and what you take most pleasure from is the engine and motivator to keep going. As you learn to recognise and start to play in your own ‘zone of performance’, you will enjoy the journey even more and hopefully celebrate the end result like the athletes when they win the gold medal.

Playing in the zone is about finding what triggers deep satisfaction and intrinsic motivation inside you and translating that into your life; both professional and personal.

Only by enjoying what you are doing, will you not only succeed but start to excel in your tasks. You might now say that this is somewhat philanthropic but consider how many people made it through the most difficult of times, like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, even though they also had some or even many ideas that didn’t work?! What did they have in common? They were playing in their zone, not giving up even when they failed. When that happened, they got up, observed the facts, reviewed their goals, re-defined their strategy, and started all over again. Think about it… “success” can follow a series of failures without giving up !

Can this really be so important for your future, given you are not aiming to be an Olympic athlete?

According to Gallup’s “State of The Global Workplace” 87% of employees not actively engaged in their jobs. (Gallup, 2014). This lack of engagement can obviously be related to many reasons but motivation is mostly something that goes on inside each of us and is different for every individual.

People who just apply for jobs or occupations neglecting completely the aspect whether they will be playing in their zone, or even playing to their strengths, risk to set themselves up to be in those 87% of unmotivated people.

And the 13% who are truly engaged ? These are the people who have made their choices whilst being consciously aware of their own strength and own zone of performance. These are the people who have the courage to take corrective action in their own lives, and to trim the set of their sails when the wind does not naturally blow in the right direction.

This is your guide to finding your zone:

  1. Live – Go out there and get as many experiences as possible thought volunteer work, internships, projects, activities with friends and family
  2. Stay active – Keep on doing different things, try something new once a week, take yourself our of your comfort zone occasional don’t just settle for watching the TV (any fool can do that)
  3. Be mindful – Tune in to your present moment and be actively aware when you are experiencing different situations
  4. Observe and Reflect – Ask yourself the questions given in this article and try to think about those moments once they pass.
  5. Realise – What feelings can you take away from that, be truthful and honest to yourself!
  6. Build Self awareness – become conscious about yourself, your talents, your skills, your character, your personality and yes, your weaknesses.
  7. Act – One way to act in case of a positive experience is to create more of those moments/experiences/feelings in your life. The other way to act in case of a negative experience is to create less of those moments/experiences/feelings in your life by starting a change.

You found your zone, share with us, we’d love to hear about it. If not yet, keen on finding your zone? Get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help!