Founder and CEO, Aim Leadership
To Improve Peak Performance at Work, Take a Cue from Your Workout
As a participant on this list for over five years, I have come to appreciate that to be on this list is to be badass. The vast majority of us are intense, focused, and driven. We deliver during the day, and then carve time out time to push the edges of our fitness. That’s why I suspect that most of you already know and crave the feeling of being “in the zone” and performing at your peak.
I describe this feeling—that peak moment when you are working hard and it feels effortless—as flow. Regardless of your sport or activity of choice, the sensation of flow—pushing hard and feeling the wind at your back—is captivating and addicting. Many athletes are driven to feel this way, but what if you could find that same state of peak performance or flow in the workplace?
More than likely, you have a recipe or tried and tested way of consistently getting into flow when engaged in sports. Many athletes engage in high intensity interval training (HIIT). The same strategy works for another type of HIIT: high intensity interval THINKING. The key is to discover how to translate your HIIT training from sports to work.
● Preparation: First, take time out to gain perspective and get clear on the outcomes. What are you trying to do? Why do you need to do it?
● Purposeful Struggle: Next, throw yourself in to the struggle: schedule times for intense, focused, hard work sessions to build your capacity. To ensure these periods are productive, be certain to have the right conditions in place. Where do you do your best work? At what time of day? Under what conditions?
● Release: Step back to rest and rejuvenate. And yes, just as in interval training, this step may happen throughout the day. What you do during this time is up to you. Perhaps, your release from work entails getting up and walking around the office or going for a quick power walk outside. Or perhaps it entails checking in with family or friends. Whatever your release, ensure it is prioritized. After all, release is a key part of high intensity interval training and thinking.
Managing these three things will significantly increase your odds of getting into flow – and back into flow – quickly. Take stock of your “best” work days. What was the rhythm of the day? Can you repeat these conditions? If you can’t repeat these conditions, what is blocking you?
Flow isn’t a secret magic formula, and it isn’t inaccessible. We all have the capacity to get into flow whether we are engaged in a sport, at work, or at home. To get into flow, however, we need to dig deep and identify the specific conditions and cycles of intensity that help us find it. Then, we need to develop the habits and discipline needed to repeat this intense and intensely satisfying type of peak performance every day.
For more on how to create more flow, check out my latest book, Create More Flow.