In 1984, John McEnroe exceeded expectations at his final match at Wimbledon, finishing the year with a match record of 82 wins and only 3 loses. In this final game, McEnroe defeated Jimmy Connors, and claimed that his victory was the result of being ‘in the zone’. McEnroe addressed how it felt to be operating at peak performance saying: “Things slow down, the ball seems a lot bigger and you feel like you have more time. Everything computes – you have options, but you always take the right one.” McEnroe saw each play in slow motion and had time to decide how and where to hit the ball. His experience was akin to the scene in The Matrix in which Keanu Reeves dodges the bullets as he sees them coming towards him in slow motion.
Many people attribute their best performances to being ‘in the zone’. They claim that when they are operating in the zone, they are entirely focused on the task, the world around them moves in slow motion and the realisation of their goals becomes imminent. They can think with clarity, move with precision and make the best decisions at the right time.
Rebel entrepreneurs can use the zone to channel their passion and actualise their goals. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi referred to the zone as the ‘flow experience’ and outlined a number of conditions that needed to be in place to access this state. To access the zone one must be completely focused on what they’re doing and they must have inner clarity. Crucially, the zone must come from within, and not from an external promise of reward. The passion is an award in and of itself. Once these conditions are established, flow stimulates feelings of timelessness while allowing the person to operate at their very best.
Once in the zone, rebel entrepreneurs can use Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to effectively anchor themselves through physical cues. This means that when in the zone, you can anchor the experience to a specific movement, – clicking your fingers, for instance – which can bring you quickly back into the zone when required.
A rebel entrepreneur can benefit from the zone for specific, challenging tasks in business – important meetings, public speaking, presentations and planning sessions.