In American football, the red zone is the area on each end of the field inside the twenty yard line. What happens in this area is a key determining factor in a team’s success or failure. Teams that easily advance the ball down the field but can’t score in the red zone will lose games. Teams that play great open-field defense but can’t prevent scores in the red zone will lose. Performance in this very small sliver of the field often determines the overall success or failure of the team.
As you examine your life, and especially your creative work, it’s important to be able to identify the red-zone activities that will really make a difference and generate forward momentum during the particular season you’re in. Some qualities that mark red-zone activities are the following:
Activities that you can uniquely do or add value to because of your position or expertise. While there are a lot of ways you could be spending your time, there are a certain number of activities that you are probably the best person for. Which of these activities should you engage in every day?
Activities that increase your personal capacity to generate ideas, such as study, purposeful ideation, or intelligence gathering. These are typically the first to go during a busy or stressful season. Are you taking the time to sharpen your mind and your creative intuition?
Activities that provide cohesion or creative traction for your team and increase future capacity. For leaders, these include activities such as clarifying objectives and encouraging your team members. Are you taking time every single day to do the small things that make a big difference?
Activities that feed your energy, such as adequate sleep, exercise, or spiritual practice. These are most often neglected during busy or stressful times. You must take care of yourself. Which activities do you need to focus on during this season to ensure that you are prepared for the uncertainty and challenges you will face?
Your “red zone” activities are likely to be made up of some combination of these qualities. Take some time this week to consider what activities you are uniquely positioned to engage in, and that – if done daily – will generate significant momentum in your life and work.
The most accomplished people aren’t always the smartest or the most talented. Rather, they are the ones who do small, important things every single day for long periods of time. They succeed in the red zone.