Finding your Flow
In my last post I shared some learning from a Golden Door Health Retreat ‘Fostering a Growth Mindset’ seminar. Here I reflect on a subsequent seminar by David Bott from the Institute of Positive Education looking at the state of flow.
Steven Kotler (co-founder of the Flow Genome Project), describes flow as an ‘optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.’ In Psychology Today, he writes: “In flow, concentration becomes so laser-focused that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Our sense of self and our sense of self consciousness completely disappear. Time dilates—meaning it slows down (like the freeze frame of a car crash) or speeds up (and five hours pass by in five minutes). And throughout, all aspects of performance are incredibly heightened—and that includes creative performance.”*
Reading this description gets me excited about the times when I’m in flow. These include losing track of time writing, being in the zone racing triathlon and thriving in high performing teams on exciting/challenging projects. When is a time that you’ve been in flow?
David showed us a video similar to this of a bulldog skating / water skimming to visualise a flow state. One guest reflected thinking about a flow state made her realise that she hasn’t been in one for a decade or so and reminisced her love for music and creative designing.
When I watch my toddler Ethan playing with his blocks or wooden puzzles I see him in a state of flow with a look of real focus on his face ( #fishface). David said that young children enter a flow state more easily than adults, which is linked to how much they learn in their first 5 years of life.
What would happen if we could cultivate a flow state more as adults?
David shared the peak performance and learning benefits of a flow state for Organisations quoting a McKinsey 10 year CEO tracking study showing when in flow the CEO’s were 500% more productive.
I think a flow state has many parallels with presence, which can be cultivated by mindfulness practice. When in flow we’re not rehashing the past or rehearsing the future, we’re there, in the moment, fully engaged in life.
Are you getting into a regular flow state? Here are some tips to help us rediscover flow and create conditions for it:
- Think of your creative passions as a child and revisit these
- Pick a project that yields a sense of excitement / challenge
- At work, help create a trustful and respectful environment
- If in relation to work, think would you be doing this if you weren’t paid?
- Try some focused attention training like mindfulness
Love to hear any of flow experiences and tips for cultivating them.
*Check out the ‘Rise of Superman’ from Steven to learn more about flow