As absurd as it may sound, highly motivated, performance-oriented leaders mainly experience high-performance states as the result of crises. Mastering crises leads to states called "the Zone", accompanied by a sense of euphoria and belonging. Some leaders even know they really are at their best – “in the Zone” – in recovery mode!
So do leaders give their best only when the pressure is increased? No! In fact, organizations eventually fail if they – voluntarily or not – follow the path of permanently generating crisis-type situations in an effort to squeeze the last bit of “high performance” out of worn out employees. This inevitably leads to bad decisions and ad hoc actions. One new project chases another. Expectations become completely unrealistic.
When this happens our brains shut down. Scientists call it “hyper arousal”: The brain is so busy dealing with perceived threats, there is no room for broad thinking. The consequences are widespread exhaustion and burnout. Many ignore the warning signs for fear of failure. It gets more and more difficult to “switch off.” The focus of thinking, feeling and action is ever more on the negative. Productivity is not on the horizon.
This is where “The Mindful Leader” comes in: what we need here is a “STOP!,” a completely different approach. Most leaders think they don't have time for this. Feeling permanently overwhelmed by “priority one” operational challenges, they run around in circles. Unfortunately this often results in the breakdown described.
The solution sounds too good to be true: inner distance is what you need to perform at the highest level without burning out. “STOP!” and take a moment to focus on your inner resources, to really make use of them again. “STOP!” and take a moment to ensure that priorities are thoughtfully ordered. “STOP!” and see whether we are in contact with and truly listening to each other. “STOP!” and ask: “Does this next meeting really add value?” The immediate return on the time invested in such “STOP!” actions will alleviate your hesitation: it is the path to higher efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, and to unlock potential, positive emotions, thoughts and actions in the most effortless way.
However, we cannot simply generate this distance, this stop, by cognitive means. We need the so-called mindfulness techniques, scientifically proven to benefit us on so many levels, to really get high performance out of ourselves, to be fully engaged in what we do, without paying with our health. This is exactly what “Working in the Zone” is all about.
Peter Creutzfeldt, founder of “Working in the Zone,” is the development professional supporting participants in this leadership development program. His own extensive experience in mindful leadership and mindfulness practice guarantees a perfect platform for efficient development and the optimal transfer of learning into participants’ day-to-day activities.
Please send me the program "The Mindful Leader."
Working in the zone is a state athletes achieve when they almost effortlessly render peak performance. It means to effortlessly give one’s best at work, regardless of outer circumstances; to stay healthy and motivated.