First, the bad news: In a national survey people were asked what their ideal job would be, if they had the power to choose it. Interestingly, nearly 70 percent said they’d choose the job they currently have. So, you might think it follows that most of us enjoy our work, but it doesn’t. The survey also asked people two questions that relate to the peak experience of being at the top of your game. The answers from the people surveyed did not indicate job satisfaction.
When asked how often they experience an “emotional high” at work, the majority said once a week. When asked how often they become so absorbed in their work that they ‘lose track of time’, an even larger majority said once a week.
This paints a depressing picture. It suggests that 80% of the time you’re not in the zone. Eighty percent of the time you’re not testing, discovering, and gradually fulfilling your innate potential. It means you’re not living fully, finding joy in your work and the peaceful satisfaction at the end of the day for what you contributed. It suggests that the talent and strength you possess is not in a state of flourishing; it’s in a state of atrophy.
You can turn it around
Life is short and most of your life is spent at work. So if this 80% lackluster experience of work is true for you, it’s imperative that you find a way to turn it around, in favor of making your best day happen almost every day.
Three simple steps can begin to turn things around, if done consistently.
STEP-1: Remembering your higher self
Step-1 is illuminating that peak experience of you at the top of your game. Here’s how:
- Write down five qualities that capture your experience when you’re at the top of your game. Keep the description of each quality to one word or a short phrase. This describes you when you’re in the zone, when you’ve reached that state of flow and you’re running on all cylinders, making things happen.
- Next, look over the list and let yourself experience each quality for just a moment. As much as possible, feel it and visualize it.
- Now come up with five more qualities. Look these over and again experience each one.
- Finish by checking the list to see if there are any you missed.
As you look at your list, you might notice that it has a kind of mystical quality to it. One might say that peak performance is a mystical experience. This is the reason I named my book Mystic Cool. Notice how little the peak experience of you at the top of your game depended on external conditions. Rather, it depended on your state of mind. It was a specific attitude that came into play that you were able to sustain as you worked.
This experience is not stressful, even if the task at hand stretches you. It is dynamic in a peaceful way. Neurologically, peace represents optimal brain function. Peace is brain networks wiring and working together to sustain the proverbial calm under siege that enables you to see a problem fearlessly, analyze it intelligently, engage it creatively, and make the best decision.
Obviously, you understand this dynamically peaceful attitude, evidenced by the list you just made. Clearly, it is well within your power to generate this experience. These qualities are not something you need to learn, but something you need to accentuate in your daily life until they flow with consistentcy into whatever you’re doing.
STEP-2: Accentuating your higher self
Step-2 is accentuating these qualities more often than you might at present. Below is a list of attributes that pinpoint a dynamically peaceful attitude. Some of these attributes are probably on the list you just made describing you at the top of your game. Check three qualities that you would like to strengthen.
Click here to print this list. Post it where you will see it and then for the next seven days, commit each day to finding ways to accentuate these three qualities. After seven days, select three more qualities and accentuate these. Repeat this process for the rest of your life (I’m not kidding):
- A clear sense of personal power and the integrity to assert your power without overpowering others
- Free of worry
- Open-minded, receptive, and accepting
- A curiosity that is fully present
- Faith in the face of adversity
- Trust in the process
- Joy in the challenge
- A willingness to forgive
- A disinterest in judging or condemning
- A felt connection with one’s own heart, with others, and with life itself
- An enduring sense of the whole that transcends the fragments
- A sense of the sacred
STEP-3: Strengthening your talented self
We have all been conditioned to be fault finders, especially in regard to ourselves. We confuse fault-finding with humility. It’s not humility; it’s a problem. An attitude of fault-finding causes people to underestimate and undervalue their strengths. When the Gallup organization asked people to identify their strengths, one-third could not name even one. We need to remedy this by becoming strength finders.
You can start by making a list of your strengths as you see them. Think broadly. There are strengths that reveal themselves in roles you play. There are personality strengths, such as being humorous or open hearted. There are interpersonal strengths that make you great at relationships, such as being a good listener. There are aptitudes you possess, such as being artistic or mechanical or good at science. Also don’t omit the strengths that you are not currently using. They are still strengths.
Once your list is made, select three and make it your mission to find ways of using these three strengths every day. Post this list where you will see it. You can also read Marcus Buckingham’s book on strength building. He offers a lot of helpful approaches for identifying your strengths and putting them into play.