In The Zone

Every athlete, every professional and every scientist knows the feeling

Those days when things just come together.  It is a space slightly above subconscious and slightly below conscious. Psychologists call it a flow state.

It is the condition where knowledge, experience, emotion and skill converge.

Why is it a sometimes thing?

Daniel Kahneman has pointed out that when facts and beliefs are both in play, beliefs win. Sometimes situations are new enough that we cannot interpret the situation well enough and old beliefs dominate the process. It is new for a reason. We don’t have useful experience to guide our beliefs.

In most cases we don’t know how we came to hold those beliefs so they are as often as not inappropriate. Once that happens, emotions become troubling.  Particularly fear.

Fear is a poor counselor.

Fear makes us more narrow.  Less willing to try new things. Less willing to struggle on after a mistake. The flow state is wider. We see and can evaluate new things. The “Aha!” moment. 

No one has ever said “Aha!” or “Eureka!” while they are afraid.

Fear is not trusting yourself and that cannot be good.

Fear has a place

Fear intends to keep us from risky places. It is part of our life guidance system. The problem we have is it appears when there is no physical danger. Just psychic danger.

What if my new girlfriend saw that? What would people think? What if I lose money?

None are life threatening, but fear of them is life-limiting.

Flow is possible.

Visualization helps. Sit in a chair, relax, control your breathing and think about shooting foul shots or putting 6-foot downhill putts. Go through the whole sequence. Over and over.

Surprising thing! You miss some.

You can change your approach so that happens less and when you get back at the physical thing, you will be better at it. The relaxed state will be easier to achieve and relaxed is pressure defeating.

Take it to life

You can visualize sales interviews, employee evaluation meetings, dates, conflict with children, and lecture yourself about procrastination. It is threat free.  It is only a little emotional and you can influence that.

It is a way for you to find defects without any real world consequences.

Flow is not always possible.

You need to be enthusiastic about what you are doing. You need to focus and adjust as you go along. Minor variations and obstacles are interesting not threatening. The opposite condition is easy to achieve. Maybe from training and experience.

The place for obsession

When working, I expect Steve Jobs was in a flow state. We have seen golfers score crazy low when everything they hit looks for the hole, We have seen Michael Jordan and Russell Westbrook take over a basketball game. They were not thinking about picking up the dry cleaning or if people liked them.

I found an article a while ago that talks about how how children are obsessive learners until they get to school. Obsession Is the Ultimate Skill

The auther talks about recovering his passion. About his deschooling.

The lesson applies to children, employees, you and every adult you encounter.

Think how easy your family life, your job or business, your social relationships would be if people were openly passionate about life. Think how interesting it would be to talk to people who are enthusiastic.

Learn to avoid limiting yourself or those around you.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. 

In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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