The Zorro Circle

Positivity is such a high predicator of success rates..”
Shawn Achor
in his book, “The Happiness Advantage.

In Principle 5 in Achor’s book, he talks about the Zorro circle, stemming from the movie of the same name starring Antonio Banderas. In it, Zorro’s mentor draws a line in the dirt, forcing Zorro to learn how to fight within the confines of the circle. In effect, Zorro gradually masters the confines of his circle before expanding the circle of control.

This same analogy can be used when tackling a seemingly insurmountable OSS. It becomes much less intimidating if it is broken down into many smaller circles of control. I use the WBS method to create a series of Zorro Circles.

There is definitely more positivity generated from the individuals on a team when they are allowed to focus only on their nominated Zorro Circle rather than being overwhelmed by the entire OctopOSS. And based on Achor’s quote above, the positivity provided by this approach would seem to be a predicator for success.

Conversely though, when mentoring someone new to OSS I try to encourage them not just to master one circle before expanding, but to stand back and learn from the entire landscape wherever possible. This was described in more detail in the “where to place your newbies” post.

The other great thing about Zorro Circles on an OSS project is that there are normally so many that it’s easy to nominate yourself for the ones that interest you most, a great opportunity to seek personal growth.

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