Review of Performing in the Zone

Performing in the Zone

Performing in The Zone by Jon Gorrie is a book to help ease and manipulate performance anxiety. It follows the lineage of Mental Toughness, The Inner Game of Music, and other books in the genre. Gorrie impressively incorporates information from this rich history but still writes an original and very practical book. He refers and quotes such texts but doesn’t just reiterate their contents.

Performing in the Zone is sectioned nicely with each page divided into easily understood and straightforward chunks and sections. This makes intellectual topics very palatable. His use of analogies are always unique and appropriate yet meaningful to the reader.

The book is divided into four sections:

The Theory – background information on performance anxiety
The Techniques – 20 tools to assist you
The Program – a 12 week mental ‘weight-training’ course
Digging Deeper – further sources and information

This is not just a book but a workbook, a true workbook. There are questions to answer, goals to set, journals to write and more – each with clear and easy directions. The book really involves the reader which is an absolute necessity for authentic and lasting change. The 20 techniques presented are quite diverse and although all may not appeal to everyone there are bound to be many useful concepts for each person.

One of my favorite things about this book is how skills are presented with simple ‘baby steps’. Gorrie walks you through the actions with a simple and natural progression. He doesn’t make it feel like a dreaded task or assignment but rather something to look forward to in order to improve your performances and performance abilities. For example, rather than just telling the reader to visualize, he takes you step by step through the process. This adds concrete meaning and makes these techniques more user friendly and applicable.

Gorrie incorporates fresh algebraic formulas, extending and evolving those from other books. These are not just a re-iteration but a re-thinking and advancement of the material.

For example, The Inner Game of Music presents this:
P = p – i
or
Performance equals Potential minus Interference.

Gorrie posits:
RLP = (c + p – e) + a
or
Resulting Level of Performance equals Cognitive Attributes plus Physical Attributes minus External Interference plus Performance Arousal.

The 12 week program is a well designed mental weight training regiment. It does require the reader / participant to set aside 30-180 minutes a day. However, if you are serious about making change then allocating the time should be a priority. You can’t improve at something without putting forth the effort and these mental workouts are no exception. Fortunately, Gorrie has laid out the plan very systematically with coherent directions.

The techniques given are explained well and steps are given to build up to the ideal goals. Rather than just being a ‘do this’ step, he explains how to get there in simple and short explanations. This makes his concepts easier to understand and implement. Quizzes are given at the end of sections to reinforce the information.

Even his more existential, philosophical and eastern texts are well grounded, explained, and related to our western thought patterns. When Gorrie presents familiar concepts, he does so in a refreshing, simple, and useful manner. He understands that not all techniques work for everyone and presents many options for the reader. He makes The Zone techniques relevant to real life experiences as well as how to practice and implement them in everyday life situations.

What if the program doesn’t work or isn’t as effective as one hopes? Welcome to Part 4 of Performing in the Zone.
This is a great section with information on physical and mental well-being. He takes a very holistic approach to assist the reader in their wellness and success in achieving ‘the zone’. Topics include diet and exercise as well as the Alexander technique of body mechanics.

This is one of those rare books everyone should read. Books like Getting Things Done by David Allen and those on the Alexander Technique are manuals for living and this book is another one to help people live and prosper. Gorrie also includes an extensive bibliography, references, and resources for future study.

Although Gorrie recommends this book for performers and those in the spotlight I feel it can benefit anyone looking to make a positive change in their life. I look forward to reading and using this book over and over again as its pages and information have staying power as well as new meaning with each read.

My only minor suggestions would be:

-Chapters aren’t clearly marked – a chapter header page would make chapters must easier to distinguish.

-I would like to see the pages where you write information available as downloads on his site so they can be used over and over.

-Books I would like to see in the Suggested Reading:
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Mental Toughness Training for Sports by James E. Loehr
The Perfect Wrong Note by William Westney
A Soprano on Her Head by Eloise Ristad
Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovich

I highly recommended Performing in the Zone by Jon Gorrie to anyone looking to reduce anxiety and improve their performance in any realm.
It is available from Amazon.com

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