Most of us want to be the best in what we do. Whether it is your job, family or school. The critical thing is that we are not getting better in the things we care the most about. As a husband, wife, friend, professional or teammate even if we work hard at them. The exciting element of that process is that this stagnation occurs despite hard work, and it is a quite common occurrence.
So what we can do about it?
The most effective people do something we can emulate. They go through life alternating deliberately between two zones, learning zone and performance zone.
Learning zone goal is to improve and to do activities designed for improvement. We concentrate on what we have not mastered yet, so we need to expect mistakes. Have an awareness of that process we will learn from those mistakes effectively.
In the performance zone, we aim to do things as best as we can to execute them. Then we concentrate on what we have already mastered, and we try to minimize the mistakes.
Both zones should be part of our life
Being transparent when we want to be in each of them with what goal and focus, you can amend expectations. This will help you perform better and better faster. The performance zone maximizes our live performance, and the learning zone maximizes our growth together with our future performance. The reason we do not improve much despite our hard work is that we tend to spend almost all of our time in the performance zone. This hinders our growth and over a long period also our performance.
Demosthenes was the greatest orator and lawyer in ancient Greece. To become great, he studies not only law but also great speeches and acting. To get rid of the habit of involuntary lifting his shoulder, he practised in front of the mirror under the suspended sword from the ceiling. When he raised his shoulder, it would hit the sword and hurt. To speak more clearly despite a lisp, he went through his speeches with stones in his mouth. He even built an underground room to practice not to interrupt other people. Moreover, he practised by the ocean, projecting his voice about the roar of the waves. His activities in the learning zone were very different than in the performance zone, which allowed him to improve significantly.
In the learning zone, you do deliberate practice, breaking down abilities into components skills. Being clear what subskill we are working to improve will also impact your learning results. Give full concertation to a high level of challenge outside our comfort zone and beyond what we can currently do.
Engage the guidance of a skilled coach.
Use frequent feedback with repetition and adjustment. Activities designed for improvement are domain-specific. Great experts and coaches know what those feedbacks are and can give us also great feedback. This type of practice in the learning zone that leads to substantial improvement, not just time on task performing.
Avoid performance plateau
Eduardo Briceño refers to the research that shows that after the first couple of years working in a profession, people’s performance plateaus. Once we think we are good enough, we spend time just performing. However, professionals who show devote time in the learning zone always improve. Best salespeople do activities with the goal of improvement regularly. They read, consult colleagues, try new strategies and reflect.
More time in the learning zone
How can we spend more time in the learning zone? We must believe and understand that we can improve and follow the principles of the growth mindset. We should have a purpose that we want to grow because it takes time and effort. We must have an idea of how to develop and what we can do to improve, followed by doing deliberate practice. We must be in a low stakes situation. If mistakes are to be expected, then the consequences must not be catastrophic or even very significant.
Get results in both zones
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