What seems to be showing up in the athletic world are some major differences between Tier 1, conventional coaching and Tier 2, integral coaching, with the most obvious difference being that Tier 1 coaching stops at the zone, while Tier 2 coaching starts at the zone. That difference tells a deeper story involving the emergence of a new stage of coaching and competitive consciousness in which flow reality is consciously coached and consciously practiced by athletes.
That’s a momentous leap from what we have seen, and still see, in the conventional stages of Tier 1 coaching where conscious flow coaching is not only absent from the coaching curriculum, it’s also considered an impossibility. One can prepare for a flow state performance, but one cannot consciously create a flow state performance. This has been the conventional wisdom of Tier 1 coaching for as long as I can remember, but what we are seeing now in the coaching culture is a worldwide emergence of flow coaches who are developing flow coaching models and practices designed specifically to get people into the zone on purpose; to teach people how to intentionally create the peak performance experience of flow.
Of interest is how each of these models and practices goes about connecting the sensorimotor operating system of the athlete to the spatiotemporal dimension of non-dual flowing presence. That non-dual interface between the body, the mind, and the spatiotemporal environment is necessary for flow reality to manifest from one moment to the next. The one constant that is always present in a peak experience of flow is this non-dual interface between performer and performance environment. A non-dual interface between the player and the game being played wherein player and game are “not two.”
Once that non-dual interface is established, whether by choice or by chance, flow happens, and it happens immediately. One moment you’re playing your usual game, the next moment you’re in the zone, you’re in a state of flow. And what happened that caused you to drop into a state of flow was that somehow, consciously or unconsciously, you shifted out of the dualistic interface of your normal performance state and into the non-dual interface of your peak performance state. The non-dual interface of flow reality..
Chances are pretty good that you weren’t consciously trying to shift from a dualistic interface to a non-dual interface. It’s more likely that this shift happened unconsciously and suddenly you found yourself squarely in the middle of the zone, playing the game the way you always knew, deep-down, that you could play the game. And then, just as suddenly as the zone dropped in on you, it drops out, and you return to playing the game the way you usually play the game, in your normal performance state, not in the zone.
So, what the heck just happened? More importantly, how can you make it happen again? Playing in the zone is awesome! And yet it seems so random, so haphazard, so unpredictable, as if the peak performance gods decided to drop in on you out of the blue, stick around just long enough to give you a glimpse of who you really are and what you are really capable of doing, and then POOF! They’re gone. The zone is gone. No more flow. No more peak performance, just your normal self, playing your normal game, in your normal performance state. Abandoned by the fickle gods of peak performance.
Here’s a hint. There are no peak performance gods. The zone doesn’t drop in on you. You drop in on it. And you drop in on the zone when you co-create the zone’s underlying non-dual interface, usually by chance, but with the emergence of conscious flow coaching models and Tier 2, integral coaches, you can now learn how to co-create the zone by choice. Bottom line: you can drop into the zone by learning to consciously co-create it.
The zone is a higher order performance reality co-created by you when you shift into a non-dual interface by connecting to the environment’s flowing presents dimension. You and the game co-creating the moment-to-moment reality of flow. And whether you wait around for flow to drop in on you out of the blue or learn to co-create the non-dual interface necessary for flow to happen, there are models and practices being developed in the coaching community to help you along the way. After all, we all know of two good reasons to learn how to play our games in the zone:
Reason #1: Playing in the zone is a heck of a lot more fun than playing in the norm.
Reason #2: You always play better when you’re in the zone.
Oh, there’s also a third reason hidden away in the performance reality of flow, and it is perhaps the most important reason of all. You see, flow reality is the reality of your Authentic Self. That deep-down sense of playing the game the way you really know you can play the game is your Authentic Self giving you a first-person experience of who you really are as an athlete and as a human being. The real you playing the real game by co-creating its only real dimension.
That’s Reason #3 and it’s a powerful reason to walk the path of playing in the zone.