The Groove of Optimum Performance

Have you ever felt like you were just in the zone? Things were hard, but they were going well. You were learning new things and getting it done. You were in the groove. This is a great place to be, ideally you spend most of your time here except occasionally to go into the Pit of Success.

The groove is where you are at your optimum performance. You have a level of challenge that meets your ability. Your work is the most effective and satisfying. The Groove is where you want to be.


Too much challenge for your ability and you will be stressed and frustrated. In many cases you learn new skills and triumph, but the level of what you accomplish is likely decreased. Quality is reduced. You can’t stay there for too long, otherwise you will be unhappy and burn out.

Too much ability for the level of challenge can also be bad. If you have more ability than your work is providing, it is too easy. You aren’t stimulated and growing. What you are doing will not be fulfilling. You may start to feel empty. This may even lead to seeking other opportunities.

Ideally, you spend most of your time in the Groove and move upwards and to the right. You have the right amount of challenge and as your ability increases you take on even more challenge. Eventually you get to the top right corner, you are a superstar owning everything thrown at you.

How do I stay in the Groove?

  1. Meet with your manager and discuss The Groove. Where do both of you think you are at? Are you in the Groove, too challenged, or not challenged enough? Do you enjoy your work? Are you learning new things?
  2. If you aren’t in the Groove, discuss how to get there.
    1. Are you orange with too much challenge? Can you reduce the workload or will your ability soon reach the level where you can handle it all?
    2. Are you green with too little challenge for your ability? Find new and different tasks to take on, scale to do more, and start working on a new skill set.  
  3. If you are in the Groove should you go into the Pit of Success or continue in the Groove?

Check in on this once in a while with your manager. It will help you be on the same page about progressing towards new levels of ability and your career goals.


Quentin Christensen, Program Manager

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