Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Going with the FLOW

This statement doesn't have a good rap, going with the flow can sometimes be seen as acquiescence, not being able to make a choice or stand up for yourself.

But it has another meaning too

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (pronounced MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-ma-HY-ee!) is a Hungarian psychology professor who came up with another idea of flow, MEE-hy noticed that people are most happy when they are in a FLOW state - described as a state of concentration or complete absorption with whatever they are doing, where they are so involved with a particular activity that nothing else seems to matter very much.*

People describe FLOW state as being 'in the groove or the zone' and its a fabulous place to be. Time seems to fly by and you lose track of all normally scheduled activities such as eating or sleeping.

When are you in FLOW?

Today I had the great good fortune of watching JO in flow. JO is a process consultant with many years experience in IT and associated fields, his speciality is working with individuals and teams to help them better understand their processes and he is GREAT at it. JO's approach is very different from other facilitators and process consultants I've worked with in the past, because he almost disappears into the group he's facilitating and creates an environment where they are so relaxed and comfortable they can't help but engage. It was magical to watch.

After the session I spoke to JO about his experience facilitating the group and he told me he feels its similar to an athletic or musical performance. Wow! From my chair it certainly looked very masterful but at the same time effortless. I'm sure he was in a FLOW state.

This reminds me of the #1 question to determine how much you are using your unique talents at work "At work, do you get to do what you do best everyday?" unfortunately many people answer this question with a resounding no, and that's so sad.

Just imagine what work would be like, if just 10% of us were in a FLOW state more often, imagine the productivity, the breakthroughs, the innovation and the creativity that would ensue.

I'm here to say that going with the FLOW as described by my buddy MEE-hy is a good thing, and I hope we all get to spend some time there soon.

* If you want to read more about FLOW here's MEE-hy's book details...
Csikszentmihaly, Mihaly (1990) Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience 

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