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Athletes And Executives Benefit From Being In The Zone

Posted by: Dr. Granat on February 27, 2008

Knowing how to get into the zone allows athletes and top executives to perform
to their fullest potential. Moreover, if top executives are skilled at utilizing techniques
to enter the zone, they can model and teach these methods to their staffs. Having
a staff that knows how to get into the zone can be quite beneficial to many large
and small firms.


The Disadvantages Of Being Out Of The Zone

Every week, I counsel and coach executives who are “out of the zone.”
Here is what one of them sounded like during a recent phone call.

“My sales are down. This sub prime mortgage situation is hurting our business.
Our stock price is also dropping. The shareholders and the board are not too happy
with me right now.

I think the stress is really starting to get to me. I’ve lost focus and I
seem to have lost touch with our company’s mission statement. I’m worried.
My energy is low and I don’t feel like I am in sync with things at the office.

The problems that I am experiencing seem to be filtering down to my
sales force and to my managers. There has been a lot of conflict and squabbling and
we are just not functioning the way we were six months ago.

I realize that my staff looks to me to be their “fearless leader,” but I can’t seem
to get it together to fulfill that role lately. I am not myself.

The pressure is impacting my health and my family life. I have gained ten pounds.
I’ve gotten out of my exercise routine. I even started smoking again, although I am
hiding this from everybody.

I’m not sleeping well and my wife tells me I have been irritable around the kids.
My confidence is shot. I can’t seem to focus. I’m nervous for myself and for my
staff. I have also lost my tenacity, my optimism and my energetic spirit.

This isn’t a good situation at all….”
This executive was clearly in a bad place. He called me because he loved
sports and he was familiar with my work with athletes and with some other executives
and he thought I could be helpful. This man was clearly out of the zone when he
reached out to me.

What Is The Zone?

Before I can help someone to move into the zone, I usually like to explain what the
zone is and what it is not. Providing this explanation, gives the person a sense of what
elements they need to add and delete to move closer to the zone.

The zone is a state of mind which is marked by a sense of calmness. In addition,
there is a heightened sense of awareness and focus. In this state of mind, there is
no self-criticism and the person is living in the present. They are immersed in the
here and now. Actions seem effortless and there is an increased belief that your
dreams or goals can become achievable and real. In addition, there is also a sense
of deep enjoyment when the person is in this unique, special and magical state
of being.

As you probably can tell, this is a very enjoyable state of mind. Everyone can
enjoy feeling like this.

The man I described earlier is the walking antithesis of being in the zone. As
I noted, he was lacking in confidence, focus and optimism. His mind was getting in his
way of performing well.

How Do You Move A Person Into The Zone?

Everyone eases into their zone a bit differently. Once the person
understands what the zone is and what it is not, I usually take a clinical history
where I discover their strengths, weaknesses and significant life events. This
information gives me and the person clues and insights as to what will help them
to get into the state of mind that will allow them to perform to their fullest potential.

Taking a history also allows me to create a rapport with the person and build
a working relationship with them. This relationship is usually a key part of helping
an athlete or an executive to feel better and to perform better.

Sometimes, I share an encouraging story that inspires a motivates a person.
Other times, I offer a new way of viewing their situation and their concerns which
helps the executive to activate their inner resources. I have dozens of techniques
for helping people to get into the zone and self-actualize.

I frequently teach people a combination of self-hypnosis, visualization and
guided imagery techniques. I also add in some common sense advice and creative
approaches for building confidence and for solving problems. Sometimes, rebuilding
a person’s optimism and confidence is all that it takes to get them on the right path.

In order to help the man described at the start of this article, I taught him
a specific mental technique for addressing each of his issues. He learned one for
confidence, one for relaxation, one for focus, one for managing his staff and one
for remaining optimistic.

He practiced these one or two of these mental exercises each day and within
three or four weeks, he was feeling better, his staff was performing better and he
began to turn things around at his firm. He told me he felt like he was “in the zone.”

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is the Founder of He counsels top
performers and has written and lectured extensively on sport psychology. Many of
his products are on this site and World Audience, Inc. will be publishing his new
book shortly. Here is a link to learn more about this book.
Dr. Granat can be reached at or at 888-580-ZONE.

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