The Zone – Leadership is a Choice #58


Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.


The alarm is still sleeping when the dogs wake me up eager to stretch their legs outside for just a minute.

There’s no reason to climb back into bed since my brain is already in full go mode but I do because he’s there and it’s the safest place I’ve come to know.

At the sound of the second alarm the morning routine begins and goes as planned. Before long I find myself in the car on the way to work. Talk radio entertains me throughout the drive and before I know it I’m walking through the door of my office.

Something happens during that drive that I am never even aware is taking place. I mentally get in the zone. It’s here, in the zone, that I’m at full power.

The zone is a place my mind goes that frees it so I don’t even have to think.

What I mean is that I’m so confident in my knowledge or ability in my subject area (agile) that I don’t have to force thought. If (more like when) a problem occurs, a challenge is placed on my desk, or a team member comes seeking direction, I trust so fully in my capability that I don’t think. I just do.

I recently read a book titled Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable (Amazon). In the book, author Tom Grover explains how he trains professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant how to not think. (Many more brilliant insights to mental power live within this book—I highly recommend reading it.)

Thinking only complicates things.

In sports the split second it takes to think through possible solutions and choose a path could be all the time the opponent needs to beat you.

We—who don’t play our game on a court but in a conference room—are no different. When we pause to think we instantly introduce exponential complexity.

I’m not saying stop thinking all together and act blindly. That’s no more productive.

Instead, my intention is to grow in the areas that matter most to me to the point I don’t need to think. My intention is to get in the zone with subjects beyond Agile.

When it comes to agile I’m there.

Here’s a key though…reaching a point of utter confidence and trust in your capabilities doesn’t mean continued learning is no longer needed. To maintain the internal trust we must have to be in the zone, we must always be sharpening our skills. Our world changes at such a rate that if we stop learning at the first sign of internal trust we will rapidly fall behind in the subject.

The big breakthrough for me here though has nothing to do with agile. It has everything to do with my journey into personal leadership.

Thinking really screws us.

Thinking might as well be a one-way ticket below the line. This may not be true for everyone but the minute I start to think about a situation I start to analyze and then over analyze, maybe even evaluate it, or compare it or me to something else. From there I quickly find myself in Shame, Blame, Denial or Obligation.

It’s when I get above the line and the situation just is is where I have finally stopped thinking. I’m acting, I’m solving.

This is my personal responsibility zone. Here there is no right or wrong, no evaluation or comparison, no good or bad. Here this is no need to think because I know I chose, created , or attracted this.

It just is.

Or as Bill often reminds me, either it is ideal or it isn’t. If it isn’t ideal, the action kicks in and I begin to work to make it ideal.

With agile I get in the zone very easily, almost always without a trigger. It’s my natural habitat.

When it comes to personal leadership, responsibility, and choice, my natural habitat (better yet, my natural programming) is the polar opposite so I am constantly looking for the triggers that help me choose mental freedom through not thinking.

This blog has always been such a powerful trigger to get me in the zone. A situation happens and it’s like there is a little writer sitting in the back corner of my consciousness always looking for the next headline. As my internal writer does this it heightens my conscious awareness of where I am mentally and therefore triggers me getting into the zone.

In this zone of personal responsibility I’m unstoppable, free, powerful, and living the reality of my choice. In the zone I don’t have to think, I’m above the line and fully trust my ability to respond to anything that comes my way.



Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of nonprofit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.


Posted in Responsibility on 09/13/2016 01:04 am
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