Here’s a phrase you hear quite a bit: I was in the zone. No you weren’t! Well, I doubt you really were.

This is different from another kind of business phrase using the word zone. We should get out of our comfort zone as much as we can to really grow.

Being in the zone is that rare event of moving or doing without necessarily knowing you’re doing it. It’s even rarer than having a purple patch, to coin another over-used term. It feels like gliding, this act of being unconsciously conscious.

I can only think of a handful of times when I’ve been in the zone.  For me it’s a bit like a state of shallow hypnosis, like when you’re driving on the motorway and you suddenly realise that you have no recollection of the previous 15 minutes. The active brain seems to step out and the thousands of hours of muscle memory take over. It happened once when I was coxing a Men’s Eight at rowing and we seemed to fly along the surface of the water. I played table tennis for 30 years and can remember only a few times when I played a rally where I thought ‘I don’t know how I got to that ball,’ or ‘ I didn’t know I even had that shot in my kitbag.’

In maybe 30 years of football I can’t ever remember being in the zone. I think it’s a very rare place. When someone tells you to ‘get in the zone’, they want you to concentrate better. You can’t simply get in the ‘real’ zone when the mood takes you. That’s why professional athletes spend years honing their skills so that they find themselves in that happy place as often as they can manage, and ideally when they most need to.

Here’s a thought for you.  Was there ever an incident when you genuinely got in the zone at work, when your brilliance made your customer, partner or colleague so successful and almost past you by? Somehow, it seems harder to achieve at work, which is a pity since it occupies most of us for most of 5 days out of 7.

 

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