Are You In The Zone

Are You In The Zone?

Just delivered an Outthinker training for Viacom’s sales organization in New York, now jetting to LA to do the same there. It is at moments like this, when I am doing what I love, delivering work that impacts people and businesses and getting time to write on the plane, that I feel in the zone.

Are you in the zone?

Are you doing what you love?

If not, how do you get into the zone?

Now, doing so when you are alone – an athlete, a sole practitioner – is one thing. It requires an internal mental game.

But what do you do when you are NOT alone? When you are part of a team, the complexity of shifting your mindset multiplies because the effort requires that not only you shift, but that your entire team does as well.

Think of it this way – to start anything new requires three phases:

  • Hustling to get things going,
  • Scaling when you know you are on to something,
  • Maintaining the new status quo when you know you are right.

My daughter, for example, last year realized she didn’t like lacrosse but thought she might like basketball. So she switched.

  • Phase 1: She hustled in her first practices and games to quickly get command of the basics – dribbling, positioning, shooting.
  • Phase 2: She realized she was on to something because she was having fun, so she started trying to get better, rising from probably the worst player on the team to one of the top five
  • Phase 3: She is now starting her second season, taking clinic classes, practicing in our driveway. She knows, now, that she is right about basketball.

You will see the same pattern in warfare, sports, business, love, art … any area of life.

But here is the thing. Pivoting alone is easier than pivoting as a team. And pivots in business usually require pivoting as a team.

My team is pivoting right now. I want to bring the whole team along for the ride. But I’m finding it more difficult than I anticipated. You see, we have been operating somewhere between phases 2 and 3. Feeling we had it right, we were scaling and establishing the status quo.

But now we need to rethink, to shift to phase 1. It’s time to hustle, explore, fail, learn, adapt. If we don’t, I fear we will miss a huge opportunity.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman puts it this way: you need marines to take the beach (phase 1), the army to take the country (phase 2), and police to rule the country (phase 3). When you pivot you need marines. If you can’t turn police into marines, you need to, at least during the pivot, switch out your team.

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