Michael Jordan, after hitting yet another basket in a streak of impossible shots -while making it look easy against elite defenders– turns and opens his arms in a gesture of disbelief, as if he’s unable to explain this incredible feat. You have likely seen this image.
Yes… that’s flow!
You are sitting in front of your computer to complete a challenging project that you’re passionate about. You begin to write down your ideas as they sprout endlessly; there is nothing that can distract you. You are simply immersed. You feel amazing as every second seems to get better and the pages fill up quickly. You take a deep breath and finally grab your coffee to take a sip …and it’s completely cold! To your surprise, what had seemed like only a few minutes was actually over two hours of non-stop writing. You have likely experienced this feeling.
Yes… that’s flow!
Years ago, I discovered this concept through the literature of Mihaly Csikzentmilhalyi, father of the Theory of Flow. And although I had always identified this state -also known as “optimal experience”– with the world of sport, little by little I started to discover something that I will attempt to summarize in this post:
Anyone, regardless of the activity, can experience FLOW.
FLOW allows us to feel the unique experience of energized focus, full immersion and total enjoyment of the task we are performing. As time flies by, ideas, actions, thoughts and movements emerge ceaselessly, one after another.
How can I reach this state?… you might be wondering.
Although there is no unique “Flow Formula”, I can share some of the conditions that will bring you closer to it:
- Reach the right balance between your challenge and your skills: Challenge yourself in setting your goal, but always adjust it to your capabilities or competencies.
- Rely on your strengths and what you enjoy: Boost your confidence and drive away any fear of failure. Free your creativity.
- Be present: Say goodbye to multitasking. That intense focus in the present moment will merge you with the task you are undertaking.
- Enjoy the journey: Always focus on the task at hand, never on the result.
- Feedback: Appreciate every moment of achievement; recognize what has gone wrong and then continue on. Flow is a constant movement.
I guarantee that when you approach and reach that feeling of flow, you won’t stop trying to attain it again.
If you learn to prioritize these conditions in your day-to-day activities, you may at some point feel like the “Michael Jordan” of whatever you may be doing.
… May your coffee get cold!