What does Zorro have to do with your success?

Zorro Circle

You may not know this, but it’s been repeatedly proven in scientific studies that Happiness drives Success. That may initially feel counter-intuitive but when you think it through it makes sense. Remember back to a time when you were performing really well. More than likely you were focused, you weren’t nervous or anxious or scared, you were in the zone and excited about whatever you were doing.

Another way to describe that feeling could be happiness – or to put it another way, it’s very difficult to be in the zone if you aren’t happy.

But the question is – what does it take to be ‘happy’ – I’ve written previously about the idea of using smaller ‘shots’ of happiness as a way to get there, but you can also learn an important lesson from Zorro…!


Wait What? What does Zorro have to do with this?

In his book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor uses Zorro as a way to explain an important concept. In the legend of Zorro, the man behind the mask wasn’t always the consummate swashbuckler. He started as Alejandro – a young, impetuous man with a dream, but without much in the way of skills.  His early enthusiasm and energy gave him some early success, but he soon found himself unable to do the heroic deeds that he imagined. Repeated failures led to despair and a feeling of powerlessness, he gave up the mask and the dream…until he met the aging sword master Don Diego.

Don Diego recognized the potential in Zorro but knew he had to build his confidence and his skills. To that end, he started his training by confining Zorro to only working within a small circle, keeping things simple and contained until he had mastered that circle, then he could move on to more complex moves. 


Find your Circle of Control

Feeling out of control is one of the fastest ways to become overwhelmed and is likely to begin a negative spiral. So it makes sense that regaining that sense of control – finding your own version of the Zorro circle is one of the most powerful ways to increase well-being and ultimately performance. 

The key is to start small, find ways to make small wins and build on that over time. Before you know it, you’ll be amazed at what you can do… and much more comfortable with the overall situation.

Want an example – maybe it’s your financial situation that stresses you out the most. When you look at the big picture it’s impossible to feel like you can find a path out of losing money and accruing debt. However, if you can break things into small pieces and just focus on one of your challenges at a time, it’s likely that you can start making headway. This might sound familiar – Financial Guru Dave Ramsey talks about it all the time when he talks about The Debt Snowball method.

The key is to find break things down into small pieces (your Zorro Circle) and master that circle on your way to mastering an entire area.


It’s the Perception of Control that’s really important

The other component to making the Zorro Circle work for you is that you have to believe that your actions matter…that you have an impact over the outcomes.  This can be especially difficult when things get very stressful.

Our brains are physically wired to revert to emotional responses under stress – and the quickest way to start regaining control of your brain is to recognize your feelings and acknowledge the situation – write down how you feel, talk to a trusted co-worker…that will help you regain your emotional control. Once you have that in hand, you can start focusing on what you can actually do about the problem. Start with 1 thing, make an impact and then add onto that…gradually increasing your output 1 step at a time.

What do you think? Have you felt overwhelmed at times? If you could figure out how to be in control would it make you feel better (and perform better)? I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences – share them in a comment below.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach