The Recipe for Engaged Performance

Published: April 5, 2018

Performing in "the zone” is a team endeavor. Most people can nail just about any solo skill with focus, discipline, and repetition. The pressure is largely internal. When you add other humans to the mix, however, the ability to find the zone is more difficult. Sometimes the effort to perform becomes the failure to perform when under pressure.

Whether on a stage, in an arena, or attempting a more intimate performance, the engagement of the relationship with others is the key driver of effectiveness. It’s not about you or your gift. It’s about your teammate. There is a recipe. Consider these three ingredients:

Ingredient #1: Participate, don’t spectate.

  • Engage in the moment. Your body knows what to do.
  • When you step outside the moment to spectate, performance suffers.
  • Learn to find your zone and stay within it.

Ingredient #2: It’s all about the other person.

  • Focus on the subject of your efforts (not your efforts).
  • Take loving care of the person (people) with whom you interact.
  • Allow their needs to come ahead of yours.

Ingredient #3: Experiment, explore, and discover.

  • Be willing to abandon the agenda and see where things go.
  • Allow curiosity to unfold. There’s always a new learning moment.
  • Enjoy the ride. Navigate the twists and turns.
  • Savor the afterglow.

When performance is engaged, problem-solving empowers continuous improvement which, in turn, enables enjoyment. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to perfect a golf shot or giving a keynote speech. When you are in the zone, subject and object become one. You and your teammates are not separate. By taking care of others, you take care of yourself.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.