Back when I was a manager responsible for sales and customer retention, one part of my job drove me nuts: A weekly call with my Regional Manager. During the call, I reported on my current tasks and workloads, and the supervisor micro-managed each of those activities.
I still believe there are more effective ways to motivate Sales Reps or Managers, rather than micromanaging them. In my case, I just wanted to be left in peace to keep delivering what I was supposed to, by making and exceeding my targets.
Differing Priorities and Energy Waste
The weekly phone calls fell firmly into my Energy Waste zone. I wasn’t excited to talk with the Regional Sales Manager, as no matter what I achieved or told her, it wasn’t enough. To make it even worse, I was hopeless at getting ready for those calls. I was tracking my team’s performance and the progress they made towards their goals, not the small day-to-day tasks that got them there.
What I was really excited to talk about was the overall strategy for the month. But my Regional Manager would always request ultimately meaningless things like the exact number of the phone calls my team members made. Since I was focused on results and strategy, I could never come up with good enough day-to-day details.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not implying I was perfect, and I believe there were other people on that call that felt super pumped up when they were reporting their progress regularly. I just wasn’t that person.
Merging Passion and Proficiency
Based on this example, let’s take a closer look at how Passion (excitement, enthusiasm, eagerness) and Proficiency (being highly skilled) coexist. In my case, I wasn’t passionate about reporting calls with my regional manager (a low score on the ‘passion axis’) matched with being completely hopeless (a low score on the ‘proficiency axis’) at getting ready for them and coming up with what was requested.
As a result of me performing a task that didn’t align with my passion, I didn’t see the point in doing, and to make matters worse, I wasn’t proficient enough to execute well, I experienced a lot of frustration and tension that was taking all the fun away.
Finding the Fulfillment Zone
Have you ever got stuck in your Energy Waste zone for too long? How did it feel? Was it exhaustion, frustration, or the sense of literally having your time stollen? If so, it may be a signal that you are sabotaging your career by allocating your time to activities you not only dislike, but you genuinely suck in doing, which doesn’t set you up for success.
If you want to not only feel satisfied but to increase your productivity at work – no matter, if you are a Sales Manager, CEO, Executive Assistant, or a Graphic Designer – spend as much time as possible in your Fulfillment Zone.
This where things come to you almost effortlessly, you have a real passion for what you pursue, and you are unstoppable. Magic happens in the Fulfillment zone, where you are not only pumped and energized to keep doing what you do, but you are great at doing it. When you are living in the Fulfillment zone, you thrive and can literally change the course of the world.
At this point, you may be asking yourself ' How do I find my Fulfillment Zone??' I need to tell you that everyone has one and the key to discovering yours is consistency in paying attention to what you do every day, both at work at outside of it. Zoom in on your daily tasks and to-do lists and analyze what energizes you and quite the opposite takes your energy away. After a busy day, sit for a moment and take a closer look at what comes easily to you and what is an absolute drudgery. You will be surprised by what you discover. I can guarantee that.
Finding your Flow
The fulfillment that comes from performing activities you are both excellent at and passionate about can be compared to an experience that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist describes as FLOW.
In his work, he combined Complexity (Challenge) associated with the task, with having the Skills (Proficiency) to pursue it. If you’ve ever heard someone describing a time when their performance excelled, the focus on the task was substantial, and they were “in the zone,” it might have been the state of FLOW.
Those who experienced it report being so submerged in the activity that they forget time exists, and as if everything was done as efficient as never before, bringing joy and satisfaction at the same time. Who wouldn’t want to get paid for staying in their Fulfillment or FLOW zones? We all have a choice of what to spend our precious energy on and how we design our professional lives. So make the right choice and don’t put yourself somewhere you don’t want to be.
Need Help Finding Your Flow?
In case you discovered you spend too much of your time out of the Fulfillment zone, don’t worry! There are strategies you can apply every day to make your life easier by managing your time and career like a pro.
I would love to hear how you cope with the tasks from the Indifference or Distraction zones – I offer a Free Strategy Session for those who share their experiences in the comments section below.
Good luck with discovering what you spend the most time on. Just remember, acknowledging where you are is the first step to discovering lasting change.