Do you ever find that just as you find the sweet spot consistently, your coach suggests an improvement elsewhere in your stroke or in your game? Suddenly that beautiful rhythm that you’ve been admiring is disrupted and the sweet spot is more elusive than the scarlet pimpernel. In my tennis lesson today we were working on my single handed backhand. In my head it is the perfect combination of the effortlessness of Federer, the flair of Gasquet and the punch of Wawrinka. Clearly my coach sees something a little different!
The sweet spot on a racquet, bat or club (according to the Oxford Dictionary) is the point at which it makes most effective contact with the ball. By ‘most effective contact’ we mean the greatest amount of forward momentum – achieved through a combination of factors. That means there are a number of factors that can stop me hitting the sweet spot consistently. My timing can be affected by the position of my feet, hands and body; my grip and the position and angle of my racquet; the size and style of my swing and the reading of the ball coming towards me, are just a few key factors. I haven’t even started to consider my reliance on the neurological processes that transmit what I see, as I watch my coach demonstrate, to the rest of my body which is expected to model and execute the same move! There are then also the mental factors involved in my play – my confidence, my self-belief, my trust in myself to replicate what I’ve been shown, my mental imaging, and my ability to process all of those physical and mental factors and make decisions at speed. Suddenly I feel a little better about not finding that elusive sweet spot as often as I would have liked this afternoon!
Whenever I hear reference to the sweet spot in sport, it always makes me think of the Zone of Genius as described by Gay Hendricks. Are you familiar with his work? He has written over 20 books that deal with the subject of personal growth. The Big Leap focusses on the hidden fear that holds us back and how we can take life to the next level. He talks about our ‘upper limit problem’ – our thermostat for how successful we are really prepared to be – and how we each have our own version of it that holds us back from achieving our full potential. How willing are you, really, to be successful, or are you happy to keep hitting the frame, or the strings, without ever finding the sweet spot?
Gay divides our activities in the world into four zones:
The Zone of Incompetence – all those activities that we’re not good at that we should simply leave other people to do. Solution: Delegation.
The Zone of Competence – these are the activities that you are competent at but other people do them just as well. We waste time and energy in this zone – and get increasingly unfulfilled. Solution: Delegation.
The Zone of Excellence – the activities you do really well. Don’t be seduced into staying here! It’s comfortable but it’s not where you thrive. Solution: Make the big leap.
The Zone of Genius – your sweet spot where you can achieve the greatest amount of forward momentum. Gay describes this as the set of activities you are uniquely suited to do and says “Liberating and expressing your natural genius is your ultimate path to success and life satisfaction…. Your Zone of Genius beckons you with increasingly strong calls as you go through your life”.
It’s hard to do this amazing book justice in a short blog post. I commend it to you if you are ready to answer your call, turn up your success thermostat and find your own unique sweet spot. It’s no co-incidence that I include this book in my recommended reading for my signature coaching programme – Being Unstoppable.
If we want to be unstoppable – in sport – in business – in life – we have to face and solve our upper limiting problem, to make the big leap to our unique Zone of Genius, and to be willing to be ultimately successful.
What would be possible if you did? If you’d like to explore that further, do get in touch.
Until next time.
Be unstoppable today!
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