Flow vs. Zone — What’s Your Area of Performance?

Positive psychology defines being in the state of flow as performing with the feeling of full engagement in and enjoyment of an activity. This is a state that is hard to achieve and maintain for most busy professionals, who usually have an endless “to do” lists and interruptions during their day. In the new fast-paced world, every organization and its employees have far too many dynamic variables during a “normal” day. There is a growing need for employees to use performance skills to the fullest in order for their organizations to grow and thrive.

 Evolving performance from the state of flow and into a performance zone is now a necessity. High-level performers have the abilities to adjust their intense focus and engagement within a dynamic and demanding environment, and still find enjoyment in the activity they are performing, which constitutes being in the state of flow.

I learned about the performance zone early in my athletic career while playing hockey in Canada. Hockey is a fast-paced ever-changing game that requires the players to perform several tasks at once (e.g., skating, stick-handling, communication) and all this time stay focused in order to score points and win the game. This ability to stay focused on several skills at once, performing them well and finding enjoyment in doing so, is in fact performing in the zone of performance. Getting checked, knocked down and getting back up might faze you, or knock you out of your performance zone, but you ultimately learn to pick yourself back up, regain your focus and get back into the game.

I was once training and coaching a group of professionals who each had tremendous amount of responsibility and thrived under challenging and high-stress situations. They had a great deal of professional knowledge and understanding of the skills required to perform their roles. However, their performance was weakening because of all the distraction that kept surfacing during their days. They were very often “distractedly focused” and required a method for performing well to ensure they kept excelling during their busy days. I asked each of them to choose a particular reoccurring task they did frequently that required the use of several tools and skills (e.g., email, phone, different computer programs). I then took them through several performance exercises, teaching them how to move between different tasks in order to achieve their business results.

By going through the performance zone training exercises, these professionals were not only able to complete the multiple things to do, but they also learned how to get into the performance zone state for higher performance.

Turn Your Knowledge into Action

1)     As a leader or manager, how are you prepared to help your people and teams move into their performance zone?

2)     What performance zone skills are you currently using?


If you would like to learn more about how I can assist your organization to elevate performance, please contact me at 416-429-1247 or email at paul@actusperformance.com.

All the best in achieving your highest performance.