Hockey great Wayne Gretzky played the game with a wonderful attitude: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been,” he once said. This puck-and-action-centered thinking is a liberating GPS outlook for NOW entrepreneurs to adopt. Its detachment and selflessness are priceless advantages. Personal identity is interruptive to success. Great athletes relinquish their sense of self to merge themselves with the next moment, the sharing of experience, and the importance of the team in achieving the overriding objective. Sports titans literally become a part of the play and play better for it.
Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi is the leading expert on positive psychology and the concept of flow and being in the zone. Going with the flow causes our obsession with self to recede and allows genuine creativity to emerge. “If the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confidence,” Csíkszentmihályi maintains, “we must educate them to be original as well as competent,”
People in the zone lose their sense of time and of themselves. Many who dedicate themselves to altruistic causes experience similar bursts of energy and insight. Getting in the zone can do great good, and that’s a wonderful boon. But, what about the bottom line?
The paradox at work here should not escape those entrepreneurs who may not be so high-minded in their objectives. Being selfless is often the most reliable way to getting what you want. The hard truth is this: Selflessness is not about promoting good, it’s just that it works. A good effect can be as viral as a bad effect.
Operating in the zone is experiencing NOW at the highest level. If the new model for leadership is being a facilitator and enabler who is steadfastly anchored in the NOW world, one of the great grand masters of this art was the designer Coco Chanel.
• She rejected the whalebone corsets which imprisoned women of the Victorian Era and favored soft, comfortable fabrics.
• Her short, chic hair style was easy to manage after an eon of prissy tresses.
• She was bold enough to declare: “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”
Did Coco Chanel dream these things up? She was far smarter! She listened to the world around her and articulated the vision everyone yearned to have. She enabled and facilitated a fashion cyclone that was gestating in the collective soul of her time. We’re all witnessing the same events; but, as is usually the case, it takes genius to detect the significance of what’s happening.
The collective mind is not an invitation to create self-made heroes.
The Coco Chanel icon might seem driven by the satisfaction of personal achievement. In fact, it’s far more supple. If there’s a craving for recognition, it’s of a very different sort. Not: “I was able to impose this change. Aren’t I smart?” Instead: “Did I hear what the world was saying, and did I help provide the means to help it respond?” When you think in those rather selfless terms, you leverage unimaginable energy on behalf of the solutions you want to enable.
We have entered the Age of Agile Enablement. The exit ramp of imposing directive, proprietary solutions is fading out of our rear view mirror and fading fast.