Performing in the Zone

Unleash your true performing potential

by Jon Gorrie

Rating 4.5/5

About the author: Jon Gorrie is a professional trumpet player who also works as a performance coach, focussing on two primary branches: Performing in The Zone, and the prevention of and recovery from Musician’s Focal Dystonia in players of all instruments. Having begun life in Northland, New Zealand, Jon is currently based in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is fluent in both English and Swedish, and describes himself as “comfortable with Norwegian and Danish”. Since the publication of Performing in the Zone in 2009, Jon has also lectured on performance psychology, including at our own Auckland and Waikato Universities.

About the book: Being one of those people with always at least two books on the go, it’s rare for me to find one in this genre that I can’t put down. This is a top pick for NLP Trainers and Presenters, Performers and Performance Coaches, and for anyone who wants to perform in the zone in that greatest of all performances - life!

Performing In The Zone focuses on Performance Arousal – what it is, how to determine your optimum level (The Zone) for a given performing situation, and how to achieve that level.

Demonstrating highly developed self-observation skills, the author has deconstructed his own performances both in and out of the zone to create a model from his own processes.

The book is presented in four parts; each part includes examples, graphics and exercises. Gorrie’s clever presentation shows that he understands how the mind processes information and his engaging writing style, his humour, clear diagrams and exercises make this book a joy to read and learn from.

Part One: The Theory introduces us to The Alternative Performance Equation: RLP = (c + p - e) + a

The equation demonstrates the way in which your Resulting Level of Performance (RLP) is determined by

  • the sum of your cognitive and physical attributes relating to the performance (c + p)

  • minus external interference (e)

  • plus the appropriateness of your performance arousal level. (a)

Gorrie gives a clear explanation of Performance Arousal as a state manifested either positively as excitement, or negatively as anxiety, then further chunks positive arousal down into appropriate and inappropriate values, offered as a sliding scale. He makes the comparison between a Professional Wrestler and a Chess Champion – while a super-high level of positive arousal (“hyped up”) would be appropriate for the wrestler, a chess champion who needs to optimise their ability to concentrate would be unlikely to perform well at this level!

Part Two: The Techniques draws from a wide variety of sources, including NLP, Yoga, meditation, martial arts – and even physics. Gorrie emphasises the importance of adding value to your own life and that of others every day, and one of his most memorable suggestions is to lock your TV in the attic - he calls it “The Grand Master Time Thief”.

Part Three: The Programme Gorrie has skilfully sequenced and combined the techniques within a graduated 12 week programme.

Week one focuses on the importance of appropriate exercise and a healthy diet, quoting Jack LaLanne, the ‘Godfather of Fitness’:

“Exercise is King, Nutrition is Queen. Put them together and you’ve got a Kingdom.”

On this foundation the author builds his programme, layering more techniques from Part Two each week until at Week 12 you are ready to give a performance – public, private or recorded. This is followed by self-assessment and reflection.

Part Four: Digging Deeper provides a selection of complementary sources for helping to 'release the emotional handbrake' that may be preventing us from moving forward. Along with a deeper look at diet, exercise and sleep, Gorrie offers us a tasting platter that includes Traditional Chinese Medicine, Alexander Technique, NLP, and getting - or becoming - a coach.

The Appendices encompass an explanation of how The Zone diagrams were derived and a performance journal template, rounding the book off with an extensive bibliography and suggested further reading. Available from the usual online outlets.

Reviewed by Sylvia Guest Sylvia is passionate about encouraging others to get more out of life and works in Kaeo in the beautiful Far North and over Skype: Email: Phone: +64 22 076 3734 Website:


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