The Importance of Observer State in Relation to the Zone

Volume 2, Issue 17

We all love to see people performing in the Zone. The Olympics is only one of the more obvious proofs of this. Actors, musicians, singers, athletes — these people are the focus of a large proportion of our time spent in conversation, especially athletes. We tacitly assume it’s just because we’re interested in the sport, or want to dream about having the kind of life they have, and there’s truth to all that — but some unsuspected portion of our interest has to do with an unconscious desire to be in the Zone, the Flow state, ourselves.

The superheroes in cartoons and movies are another manifestation of our ancient dream. Deep down inside we know we have secret powers that come out when we least expect them and are gone in a flash. Or they surface when we face the severest challenges of our lives. Old women are suddenly briefly able to carry people to safety. Within the Flow state are levels that provably increase “psychic powers” as measured by the Rhine card method. Because the Flow state is so dramatic and amazing, we have focused on heuristics to attain and maintain Flow as the prelude to a serious discussion of the Observer state. Now it’s time to turn our attention for a while to the Observer state. Why? Observer state is the precondition for Flow. It’s also a thousand times easier to get into Observer state, which brings with it a highly significant increase in creative effectiveness and a sharp reduction in emotional suffering.

The purpose of our book Freeing Creative Effectiveness is to provide ways of thinking and openness to perceptual information, hunches, and feelings that make it easy and effortless to thereafter slip into Observer state. Our premise is that more Flow state experiences will be created this way than by trying to help people get directly into the Flow state.

Here’s how you will know when you are in the Observer state:

  • You’ll detect an internal mental toughness that makes you demand proof from yourself about the thoughts you are having, and you find yourself being honest with yourself.
  • You’ve engaged your fatalism and whatever you would normally be afraid of losing you are now prepared to deal with, regardless of what happens.
  • Your attention is highly focused and you are too calm to be distractible.

You might find it interesting and useful to keep notes of times you catch yourself in this state, and times when you are brought down from this state (“triggered” as my great new friend Dr. Phillip Romero would say) into what I call Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), where you are joylessly trying to keep up with tasks in an atmosphere subconsciously charged with dread of failure.

As longtime readers have detected, most of my posts are about how to move from EOP to Observer and Flow states (“the Zone”). Indeed, this is the aim of my life and the purpose of the Human Effectiveness Institute.

Hope you are all keeping cool in the current weather wherever you are.

Best to all,


One thought on “The Importance of Observer State in Relation to the Zone

  1. Pingback: The Human Effectiveness Institute: A Personal View | Bill Harvey Blog

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