How is hitting your straps different to being in your zone?
One of the things we love chatting about is flow and zone. You might say, “That person is hitting their straps.” It’s a beautiful term. So what do we think it actually means?
Well, the distinction between flow and zone and hitting your straps is, hitting your straps is probably operating at a higher level over an extended period of time. Maybe you’re on a roll at work or you’re just on top of your game in a particular sport or something you’re doing, so it’s that moment or that period of time where you’re really just on top of your game for… and you’re just knocking out of the park, everywhere you go.
You just seem to be able to nail it. You’re making in-roads, you’re overcoming obstacles with relative ease. You just feel like, as we say, you’re hitting your straps, mate, and you’re just on top of your game. And it might even just be at home too, you might be… as a dad or as a brother or something you just might be feeling like you’re really on top of it.
And one of the things we love about this is, we all know these particular times are fantastic, that week, month, six months, and you just know you’ve got a rhythm and you’re doing your work well. And you know you’re… from a professional point of view, personal point of view, things are going well, and you’ve worked hard to be in that particular place.
All good things come to an end
But you know the day’s going to come when you’re going to hit the wall. So it’s… so you’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve got to become aware, “I am in this zone, I am hitting, hitting my straps.” So while you’re in that zone, while you’re in that particular period, use it, celebrate it, be the best you can be there.
In those moments, you really can’t hold back because probably all of us have had times in our lives when we’re really hitting our straps. And one of the things you know, people are drawn to you in those moments. They really want to hang around you because the energy sort of wears off on to them, and you’re sort of really becoming that best version of yourself in the real world. And it is such a wonderful feeling to really get on top of the game.
What happens when you’re not ‘hitting your straps’?
But we want to talk today about when you’re not hitting your straps anymore.
Greg remembers this client who called him up once and they said, “Hey, could you just help us work out what’s going on with this particular leader we’ve got?” And Greg said, “No worries, what’s going on?” and they said, “Well, this guy, like he was in this role. He was head of the fleet, and I think they have maybe 300 vehicles they managed as part of their operation around the city.
They said, “He was just so good in that role, just kicking goals everywhere, improving performance, great team culture, everything was just really, really good. And then we moved him for a career opportunity. We moved him into head office and gave him this lead role in health and safety, changing that and transforming that across the business. And he’s just tanked. Like, he’s just really underperformed. He’s just not… the feeling is that he’s not cut out for it. And we really want to know why he’s not going so well.”
And as Greg listened to it, he thought, wow, here’s a guy who was in an operational role. He had line authority, so to speak. He was just really on top of his game. Everything he knew… he knew a lot about fleet management. He knew a lot about team culture. All these things were great. They moved him to a role where he had no expertise. He Had no mastery. He had no experience in health and safety. He had no experience in an influencer kind of role. And as a result, he really tanked.
Now the lesson here is for all of us, is that when you make a really big leap into something that is completely different, that requires a lot of new skills or a completely different approach, you are not going to be hitting your straps for quite some time.
You really have to work at it. Pricey for example, would say in the last 6 to 12 months, he’s hitting his straps in terms of a lot of the stuff he writes. And people seem to be saying to him, “Damien, we’re really enjoying the stuff you’re writing at the present time.” He feels as though he’s got this flow and it’s not… and it isn’t just a day to day type of thing. It’s kind of like within his whole life. But Pricey has worked hard. He’s been writing for a long, long time, and he is probably hitting his straps now because of the hard work he’sput in, because of his hanging in there through some very hard sorts of times.
So when you’re hitting your straps, it’s a time when you can dream big. It’s a time when you can push the edge a bit, it’s a time when you can really lead, you can then step up. And when you step up, when you lead, you’re going to inspire, and others are going to come along the journey then too.
When you reflect on where you’re at now, and when we talk about expertise or performance in a particular activity, we always just break it down into three really simple things to start with.
Pricey for example has an amazing mindset for writing. He’s got a process for writing. It’s there. And then he’s got this little micro-skill of the kind of words he uses, and bringing in quotes, and storytelling. It’s a real gift that he’s developed over all these years. We all have our own version of this.
A journey of experience and learning and growing
And so, as a result, it’s this mix of things coming together and you’re achieving some level of excellence. You never hit your straps unless you’re nailing your job, unless you’re really on top of it. And so that’s a journey of experience and learning and growing. We think that’s a really core point. If you are sitting there saying to yourself, “I’m hitting my straps in one thing, but not in others”, or, “I’m not hitting my straps in anything”, then make a subjective or… sorry, really objective sort of stand back and say, “Well, why?”
We guarantee you there’s a justifiable reason, right? Maybe you don’t have the mindset right, maybe you don’t have the process or the micro-skill. It might be that maybe in business you’re not winning, but just say you’re in a project management role, you’re a really good project manager, but you’re not nailing stakeholder management, which might just be one key element, which is costing you. So relationships might be costing you. And so it’s just about taking a really good look, almost doing a bit of an audit or a review of what you’re good at and what you’re not. So that you can get back and define a path to hitting your straps.
And should you find that you just aren’t? Imagine you’ve put in heaps and heaps of work and that flow isn’t coming, that period where you’re just… you’re not actually hitting the actual straps. That’s probably something saying this isn’t the right space, this isn’t the right particular project. This isn’t where your energy is meant to be. Maybe it is just not the right time.
One of the great things too, on a slightly different topic here, is leadership. A Leader can see when those in their team are hitting the straps and they encourage it and they allow it, they’re not threatened by it. When you, as leader, can have a team and you encourage your team and they’re going to work hard and they find their particular zone and their gift, you get an awesome team. So then, not only are you hitting your straps, not only are they, but there’s a sense of your team is, and that is the most brilliant experience.In many ways, the definition of a high-performance team, when everyone’s hitting their straps, right?
Trying too hard
One of the challenges here though, is when you’re not hitting your straps, it can be tricky because you might decide all of a sudden, you just try a bit harder. And that may or may not be the solution. Sometimes we push so hard and we bust our guts on something that’s never, never going to work because it’s just… maybe it’s not in our strengths or the path to expertise is too long based on the amount of time we have now.
So trying too hard can be a real problem. You almost start to force the issue when it’s not ready, because there’s a timing that is required to mastery. And the real challenge is you can sit here and say, “I’ve got to be hitting my straps faster” or you look across and you see a mate who’s just on fire at the moment. You think, “Wow, they’re going so well in their work”, or whatever they’re doing. And you just think, “Oh, isn’t that amazing?” And all that does is make you feel bad, as opposed to being inspired by that person and going to learn from them to work out how you’ve got to solve your confidence challenge.
Any time in Pricey’s life when he has sensed that he is really hitting the straps he has noticed several factors at play;
And when you’ve worked hard, but you’re not trying too hard, and then you risk and trust that inner self, you just kind of take off.
Trust self even when you don’t feel positive & Tall Poppy
There’s this other angle on this too. And let’s just say we take the work example. Greg has sat with lots of execs and doing like a talent review and thinking about people in the business, and they never speak highly of someone who’s not hitting their straps. If you’re not really nailing your job, what actually goes on in people’s heads is they go, “That person’s gone as far as they’re likely to go.” And isn’t that amazing, without any real assessment of why, they make that assessment.
So what we’ve got to do, is as much as possible, at least show we’re on the path to hitting our straps and mastery, learning and demonstrating that we’re having a real crack. Because the thing that can go wrong in this journey is imposter syndrome or tall poppy.
You get into these moments where you’re hitting your straps, you’re starting to get some victories, and then you go, “Ooh, I don’t want to be too good.” And you know what, that’s… wow, what a shame that that even gets into our brains. That’s the Australian culture, of tall poppy and questioning whether or not we’re good enough.
We’ve spoken about tall poppy and it’s about staying humble but bold, right? Really doing the thing… playing small is not great for your spirit. No one wants people to play small. If you’re hitting your straps and you’re doing it authentically and humbly, people are inspired by that. That’s what they really want to see. But if you’re holding back, showing the world how good you are at something, or just doing what you’re so great at, that’s a real shame, and not what we want universal men to be doing.
You’re going to make mistakes and that’s OK
And do you know, at times such as that too, when you’re hitting your straps, when you’re taking that risk, when you are stepping up, sure, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to have people throwing all sorts of mud. There will be difficult times, but when you’re in this space you’re not focusing upon that. You know you’re on the right course, you know that where you’re going is right. You know this is fitting your dream and your skills, your energy’s got flow about it.
So when people are throwing the mud and trying to hold you back, you aren’t focused upon that. And really one of the great things too, is when someone is truly on top of their game and have been there for a period of time – sometimes it is now the right time to step away – to dream another dream. People who then say, “Hey, good. I’ve done sufficient. I’m going to step away from this now.”
And there’s something beautiful when someone at the top of their game knows they’ve dreamed their dream, they’ve gone as far as they want to go, and then they step away. And people admire that, rather than that person being dragged kicking and screaming. It’s a beautiful space.
And you only get to that space when you reflect, when you have an interior life and you are reflecting within your own self, and you know your own self, and you are humble, and you have that sense of like… awareness. And you’ve got the awareness which says, “I’m in this zone, I’m hitting my straps. That’s a wonderful space.” But then you also get to the awareness when you say, “Hey, that’s been good, I’ve loved that ride. I’ve done all I could, it was just awesome, I’m the best I can be, and now I’m ready to move on to a new sort of path.”
Reaching higher – getting better
So we now want to chat about how you hit your straps if you’ve got something in your life you want to be better at. It might be business, it might be work, it might be fatherhood, it could be a sport or an instrument or something you’re playing. It all starts with some sort of rhythm that keeps you disciplined on your journey of getting that goal.
There’s some little process Greg teaches called P2R2 or,
“Prepare, Perform, Recover, Review”
which is called a high-performance lifestyle. And what it does is it aligns to the natural process that human beings go through in learning and mastery. So you prepare to do something, then you perform it. You have time off to recover. Then you come back and do your review and reflection.
And what that means is, every time you sort of go around that life cycle, you’re growing and getting better and improving in your application in the real world. So you might do an offsite for some teachers somewhere. And then what you would do after is have a break, and then you come back and reflect on how that went and what you did right. And I would do the same with athletes or executives.
It’s this process of never ending little increments of improvement, as you learn from experience, you add new skills, you test in the real world. Without that process in place, you’ll never achieve hitting your straps. And you’ll never keep growing to the next level of performance.
All flow or growth happens by you achieving some level of excellence. And then the challenge getting higher again, exactly like you go through… just say you’re learning Karate and there’s white, yellow, green, red, blue, black, or whatever the levels are. You get to a certain level of expertise. You feel like you’ve got a certain flow. Then they increase the level of difficulty to… at a nice level, and you continue to learn and prepare and apply in the real world, and eventually get to your black belt.
It’s exactly how this works. So hitting your straps, a lot of the time we sit here in this stagnant world and go, “Well, why aren’t I getting any better?” Well, we don’t have the rhythm around that helps us grow. We’re not subjectively sitting back and going, “Why aren’t I absolutely nailing this particular challenge I’ve got in my life right now?” Well, there’ll be a reason for it.
And when you’ve worked hard and when you’ve got a rhythm of hard work, of focus, but of reflection, when that rhythm comes, you need a patience because the time will then come. And you’ll find it almost, it just sneaks up on you. And you’ve worked hard, you’ve got the rhythm going, you’ve got your particular focus. You are reflecting, but you’re not reflecting too much. You’ve got sense of a bit of a trust. Just all of a sudden, “Bingo”, you’re in that zone. It’s a beautiful thing.
One little thing to watch out for here is, if there’s a particular thing that you’re really keen to nail, but it is just not on your strengths radar. Now we’ve heard a lot about strengths and strengths 2.0 and all this kind of stuff, which is spoken a lot about in business, but to give you an example.
A good mate of Greg’s is a mortgage broker. And he was on a phone call with him recently. And Greg said, “How are you going, mate?” And he goes, “Mate, I am just the happiest I’ve ever been. My work is so good. I’m hitting every single goal. And Greg said, “Well, why is that?” And he goes, “Well, my boss sat me down and said to me, ‘Look, mate, you’re a salesman. You’re brilliant at relationships. You just need to be out there and seeing customers as much as possible, you are so good at that. You love it. It gives you energy. What you’re bad, mate, is paperwork and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and ensuring compliance and all this kind of stuff. But I’ve got people who are brilliant at that. They love doing that kind of stuff. They hate doing the stuff you do. They wouldn’t want to be out there in a million years.'”
So there’s no point putting him through additional compliance training and learning all the systems and technology if he doesn’t want to do it. He’ll never get the spice of life, the energy, the fizz, that you’d get in a day job. If you spent too much time on the weaknesses or the things that just don’t work for him, from his natural personality.
So that might be the case. Sometimes you might be trying to hit your straps in stuff that just don’t give you energy. That kind of work, that kind of challenge, what’s required, is not for you. That is okay. Don’t try and do it.
Part of a team
When you’re part of a team and there’s a particular area of the teamwork that you just haven’t got the energy and the time for, someone else in the team has, okay, share that particular load. But then that gives, frees up your energy to kind of challenge yourself to a layer of challenge, a layer beyond where you are now. And as you reach for that, and each other member of the team is reaching for their particular space and they want to challenge themselves too, your team begins to really fire.
What this all comes down to is that universal men are famous for getting things done. That’s what we sort of… that’s sort of the philosophy we apply here in being universal men, “Let get things done.” And what that means is you’ve got to be hitting your straps. You’ve got to be showing the world your gifts in a way that is aligned to your values. It’s really stepping up and being bold. And that means hitting your straps. So find a way to hit your straps in the things that are most important to you.
And sometime within the next week, if there’s someone within your own life who’s just doing a fantastic job. Go up to them and say, “Hey, thank you. I really, really appreciate it. I really appreciate all that you are actually doing.” And when you appreciate someone else, who’s becoming the very best that they can be, the energy within you, to become a truly universal man, within you, becomes stronger.