Find Your Flow
Find Your Flow
I said “flow,” not “Flo!”
As women, we all know what it’s like to have Aunt Flo come for a visit, and it’s less than pleasant.
Flow, on the other hand, is more than pleasant – euphoric even. Daniel Pink describes the “state of flow” as ”the oxygen of the soul” with “optimal experiences when the challenges we face are exquisitely matched to our abilities.”
I’ve jogged/run for personal fitness for years, decades even. I ran for a long time without ever experiencing the “runner’s high” that I had read about and heard described. I chalked it up to the fact, that I wasn’t training at a competitive level, but then it happened! I felt it. I experienced it. And I was hooked!
The state is euphoric. It feels like floating. Your body is working, but it feels effortless. Everything literally just “flows.” I wish I could say that I achieved that state every time I ran. But I didn’t. Still, it was intoxicating enough that I ran anyway in hopes of finding it that day.
I still like to run. But my fitness regime has morphed and today I find my euphoria through a different type of workout (HIIT). Still,I am always seeking “flow.” I seek “flow” in my thoughts and ideas, in my ability to produce content and results.
If a “runner’s high” feels like being carried on the wings of angels, a working state of “flow” feels like there is divine inspiration and aid in every task. It is working effortlessly at, no, beyond, what you see as your potential. I see it! I crave it! I pray for it every day.
It’s my time to Flow…
I’ve had a hysterectomy. If I ever tell you “I’m flowing…” you will know I’m talking about something much better and more transcendent than good, ol’ Aunt Flo!
I’ve watched my daughter experience both types of flow… We don’t need to talk about the moans of pain I’ve heard or the catatonic rocking I’ve seen. These things bring back real and painful memories. Let’s talk instead about the “flow” I’ve seen her achieve on the soccer field. She’s a gifted athlete. When she’s in “flow” it’s like she’s moving in slow-motion and at warp speed simultaneously. Sounds weird, I know. But let me explain. I say slow motion because every step of her feet, every stride of her legs, every tilt of her toes, every spot on the ball she struck, it was all perfect – perfectly timed, perfectly executed.
And everyone saw it – No! Everyone felt it. I had so many parents come up to me after soccer matches and tell me how much they loved to watch my daughter play. “She’s magical.” She’s a “play-maker.”
I say her “flow” was executed at warp speed because, even when it looked like a play was impossible to execute successfully, when in “flow” Brecken makes happen. Her speed, her strength, her flexibility, her accuracy all expand to meet the challenge. These are miracle moments on the field. In those moments Brecken achieves mastery. But they were not without cost. There were hours, months, even years of training that preceded them. But they’re miraculous to watch. Did Breck always play in “flow?” Good heavens, no! But like any excellent athlete, she knew what to do get there.
Do you know what you need to do to create flow for yourself and your organization? It’s time to put your pads on and figure it out.
Creating flow-friendly environments: Go for Flow!
- Define your desire/purpose. When you really want to master something intellectually challenging, you will be the most productive.
- Turn work into play. Children are a great example of being able to use their brains and their bodies simultaneously to “probe and draw feedback from the environment in an endless pursuit of mastery.” (Daniel Pink, Drive)
- Practice and rehearse deliberately. Repetition matters.
- Seek feedback from trusted/respected sources.
- Fill your environment with images that motivate you. Visualization speaks to different parts of your brain.
For your ORGANIZATION
- Create an environment that seeks and rewards progress. Your organization as a whole will find more flow.
- Establish and protect time for creative thinking. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” -Albert Einstein
- Ask good questions. Challenge the process.
- Create an environment of trust. Outside the box thinking needs to be safe and acceptable.
- Establish open communication and opportunities for feedback