December 15, 2017
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The Sweet Spot Print E-mail

Babe Ruth - sweet spot of the bat.The Sweet Spot: where everything comes together to create a particularly suitable outcome. The term originated with sporting equipment to describe the place on a bat, racket or club that produces the best result with an ideal balance of speed and accuracy. It is part of the equipment by design.

You were designed with a sweet spot. Your peak performance comes from being in that zone, and it can apply to every part of your life.

Balance skill and challenge

In life, the sweet spot is a condition where the level of skill available is balanced with the amount of challenge presented. When you are a beginner at something, you may start with limited capability (skill). At the same time, you will have a low level of challenge, perhaps as measured by your expectations or the expectations of others. “Just do your best” is often the motto.

Sweet Spot - balance of skill and challenge

Your ability grows with practice and effort, increasing the amount of skill you can bring to the opportunity. As your skill increases, you are able to take on greater challenge. Maintaining a balance between these two will keep you in the sweet spot. Increasing your skill and accepting greater challenge moves you toward your peak performance.

What happens when the balance gets out of whack? You quickly slip out of the sweet spot and experience either boredom or anxiety.

Boredom is the result when you have a lot of ability but there is no challenge in the task. Certainly you can do what is required, but there isn’t anything to hold your attention. This does not create an environment where you will do your best work.

On the other hand, if the challenge is too high for the amount of skill you can bring, then you will experience stress in the form of anxiety. You may have recognized this in yourself or others when expectations were set higher than could be reached. This does not create an environment where you will do your best work, either.

Recognized by experience

Your sweet spot is not something that can be easily measured or calculated, nor is it easily explained in objective terms. I encourage people to think about it, and then experience it. Once you know what it feels like, then you can make choices that enhance it. Discover (or remember) the feeling. When that feeling gets stronger you are doing the right things. When that feeling goes away, something needs to change.

This is analogous to riding a bike. You can think about it, discuss it, read articles and calculate the mechanics – but to understand how to balance there is nothing better than experience. You have to “get a feel” for it.

Sweet spot management

As you are managing your sweet spot, experiment with adding a dash of challenge or a sprinkle of skill. Yes, these things can be done intentionally.

Increase your skill level through practice, experience, training and continuing education. Great athletes discipline themselves to increase their ability. They are constantly learning new techniques and improved methods. Similarly, you can fine tune your skill set for the work at hand. You will see the difference in improved performance.

Increase your challenge level by accepting greater responsibility and setting higher goals. If your current skill level allows you to do a job in a certain amount of time, challenge yourself to do it faster. If your current ability means you can manage a certain number of decisions, set some stretch goals to picque your interest and increase motivation.

Choose your lifestyle

There are four broad categories of lifestyle indicated by sweet spot management. You get to choose which one you would like to attain.

Sweet Spot - lifestyle management: peak performance

Vegetative State: a lifestyle characterized by low challenge and low ability. This affects people that have no vision or do not understand their purpose. They accomplish little and influence less. They are burying their talent in the ground.

Predictable Plodding: a lifestyle characterized by boredom and lack of motivation. This affects people that have strengths and talents that they are using but they are not stretching themselves to allow for God-sized results. They are limited to their current vision and need a more inspired imagination.

Crisis Response: a lifestyle characterized by stress, anxiety and bouncing from one crisis to another. This affects people that are “in over their head” from having taken on responsibility that is not theirs to pick up, and their abilities are being misapplied. They need to discover God’s vision for their life and yield to it.

Peak Performance: a lifestyle characterized by peace and calm, where there is good return for the effort being invested in the task. It occurs when a person is living according to the vision and purpose for which God designed them.    Everything seems to work together (for good).

Abundant living

Your peak performance brings glory to God. That's the purpose.   It is the harvest of His vision, the deployment of His gifts, and works according to His purpose - and you get to be the participant.

Apply the principles of sweet spot management to your current opportunities. You will discover that this will lead you toward peak performance, and into your ultimate sweet spot as well.

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