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Being in the Corporate “Zone”

What enables corporate executives to get into and stay “In the Zone?”

In 1993, Jimmy Johnson, then the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, credited a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, with helping him prepare for the Super Bowl win that year.

“Flow” (or, being “In the Zone”) is a state of being where one is fully present, fully engaged, fully effective, AND experiencing joy.  When we have access to our highest and best resources, we not only are better at what we’re doing, we enjoy it more.

People who aren’t in the zone, and have trouble getting there, are often obstacles in the work environment, and barriers to company success.

To answer the original question, here are the key ingredients I think one needs to facilitate flow:

Passion:  You must enjoy what you are doing, and even feel driven to do it.  If you are doing something you aren’t passionate about, you have to break it down, and find the smaller increments of joy that will come with succeeding with that particular item.

Focus:  We all multi-task, but getting into flow requires the elimination of distractions so that you can be fully present and excellent at what you are doing in any given moment.  Let’s call this the Zen of making the best effort you can!

Letting go:  Everything that has already happened is either water under the bridge or a learning opportunity.  Derive the learning, let go, and move on.  Carrying a heavy backpack just slows you down.

Peak Experience:  The author of Flow, plus many others (Abraham Maslow, Daniel Pink [Drive], and Daniel Goleman [Emotional Intelligence]) all talk about how our best resources are derived from strong positive experiences, which can continue to motivate us and fuel future successes.  Stop (briefly) and enjoy the small successes, and really celebrate the big successes, to make them even more memorable.

Getting into the zone is good for you, good for your business, good for your customers, good for your colleagues.  My map may not be the only path there, so by all means find your own, and stay on the path!