Charlie Nickell was asked to present his sales strategies at the next national Mona Vie convention. Mona Vie is a network marketing company that sells a fruit drink with 19 different fruits-one being the popular-acai berry. Charlie had entered the company 9 months ago and had become its top salesman on the West coast. The leadership was so impressed with his rapid rise and network marketing skills that they wanted him to share it with others in the corporation.
Charlie had reservations excepting such a grand invitation. He had never spoken before more than 20 people, let alone two thousand of his colleagues. But Charlie accepted.
The day of his presentation, Charlie was all nerves, but as he walked to the podium, he felt a peace and calmness. As he gave his speech, Charlie was brimming with enthusiasm. It seemed to him that everyone in the audience was hanging on his every word. Every humorous comment produced a huge laugh. Every word spoken came from the lips so crisply. While the presentation lasted 60 minutes, it seemed but seconds. Charlie felt a sense of great joy and honor and wanted the presentation to never end.
Charlie was in the zone. The zone is that magical place where everything feels right-you can do no wrong, and the difficult seems easy. It is a place we long to be but rarely find.
One of the first psychologist to study the zone was Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. Rather than the zone, he calls it flow, and has found that everyone can experience flow-from athletes to musicians to business professionals. After recording the responses of hundreds of subjects, Dr. C discovered that certain conditions have to be present to reach this optimal state. These include such factors as a challenging situation, an optimal intensity level, complete focus on the task, a feeling of supreme confidence as well as feelings of joy.
Although there are certain conditions that help to produce the zone, everyone describes this place a bit differently. The hall-of-fame golfer, Sam Snead, describes the zone as a cool mad-he is intense by relaxed. While Bobby Locke, another supreme golfer, said he found the zone when he possessed a calm deportment. The author, Timothy Hallinan has commented that his most creative experiences come when he is writing hot. He doesn’t analyze anything but just takes off with his thoughts. However, I found that my best writing comes to me when I started off slow, critiquing my work before moving into new material.
Given that the flow state is unique to the individual, we need to create our own road map to finding the zone more often. This starts with awareness. The following drills guide you toward increasing the probability of finding the zone:
Pick 3 different events in which you were in the zone. They can be from a variety of venues, from sport to music to business, or from the same situation (e.g., speaking to a group). The characteristics for the zone should be the same for you across different situations. Now address these questions for each event:
1) Was there anything unique that happened prior to this event? (e.g., did you overly prepare, not prepare?)
2) What were your feelings during the event? (e.g., were you excited? nervous? calm? Energized?)
3) What were you thinking during the event? (e.g., Were you confident?, were you unsure?)
4) Were there any special circumstances during the event? (e.g., smaller audience? Bigger audience? No audience?)
To find out how we get into the zone, also we need to know why we perform at our worst-or choke under pressure. Do the same as above, except pick 3 different events that you performed terribly. Address the following questions:
1) Was there anything unique that happened prior to this event?
2) What were your feelings during the event?
3) What were you thinking during the event?
4) Were there any special circumstances during the event?
Now look at the two composite sketches-one when you perform brilliantly and one when you performed terribly. What are the key differences?
List 3 of those differences:
“Know thyself” was an imperative according to William Shakespeare. It is an imperative to taking the best path to achieve at the highest level.
The following article was exerpted from the Full Throttle: 122 Strategies to Supercharge your Performance at Work. This book is a Washington Post Best Seller.
Dr.Gregg Steinberg is a sport psychologist to many professional athletes, motivational speaker, business keynote speaker and leadership trainer and sales trainer. To see more about mental toughness strategies and going Full throttle in your sales, business and life, go to www.drgreggsteinberg.com and see his new book, Full Throttle on amazon.com. To see more about his coaching go to http://tinyurl.com/yemlfs8 and to see his products go to http://tinyurl.com/yjk5q6x