This may sound odd when one of my key principles for achieving a winning mindset is staying in the zone, but that is the point. It is about staying the zone not getting in the zone.
The irony of the ‘zone’ is that all the time you spend searching for it will become counter productive for you. There is no zone to get into. Every time you leave the house and drive to work you are in the zone. When you are socialising with friends or working on interesting piece of work, you are in the zone. What you need to do is identify with what is throwing you out of the zone, which is usually a perceived threat resulting in lack of clarity and judgment. You’ll need to learn how to ‘manage the mist’
I have interviewed hundred’s of sportsmen and women during the last ten years who were in the autumn years of their career. I always asked them one question “what would you do differently if you could do it all again. As well as “planning better”, “appreciating the moment more” In many cases they responded by saying:
“If only I knew then what I know now, I had speed and skill but I didn’t have the composure and mind-set to take advantage of it”
I definitely wish I had the knowledge I have now. When I was in my teens and early twenties I would start preparing mentally for a tournament a month in advance on top of all the training I was doing. By the time I got to the competition all my attempts to be in the zone caused me to be mentally exhausted. I had generated too much adrenaline in my body when I didn’t need it.
I see players who try so hard preparing their mind for competition that it actually becomes a barrier to the their performance. Some adrenalin is useful to gain some focus, but too much, usually caused by anxiety and fear, will be counter-productive. I was always amazed at how certain athletes could just turn up to an event and appear so calm and relaxed. In fact it was very intimidating to see them so comfortable in that type of environment, chatting, smiling, like it was nothing more than a stroll in the park.
Perhaps you have seen leaders speak effortlessly in front of large groups? When they walk into a room everyone notices. These people aren’t getting in the zone they are staying there! I made it my mission to understand this phenomenon I wanted the formula for this inspiring talent.
In my next blog we will look into what happens when you feel threatened which is likely to be subconscious.