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Be in Flow: Cultivating Optimal Experience and Connection

flow leaders leadership presence relationships May 28, 2024

Flow is a powerful concept that encompasses two crucial aspects of our lives: the internal state of being and the external connectedness with significant people who influence our success. This dual nature of Flow is essential for achieving both personal fulfillment and professional excellence.

The Internal State of Flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his seminal work "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience," describes Flow as an optimal state of being where individuals are deeply immersed in activities that bring them joy and satisfaction. According to Csikszentmihalyi, people who learn to control their inner experience can significantly enhance the quality of their lives, which is the closest one can get to true happiness. This state of "optimal experience" or "enjoyment" is often referred to as being "in the zone" or "Presence."

Csikszentmihalyi identifies eight major components that characterize the state of Flow:

  1. Performing tasks we are capable of completing.
  2. Being able to concentrate on what we are doing.
  3. Having clear goals.
  4. Receiving immediate feedback.
  5. Sustaining deep, effortless involvement that removes worry or frustration.
  6. Having a sense of control over one’s actions.
  7. Feeling that the sense of self disappears during the experience.
  8. Experiencing a loss of the sense of time.

These components collectively create a profound sense of enjoyment that motivates individuals to seek out these optimal experiences repeatedly.

Integrating Flow into Daily Life

Following the principles outlined by Hal Elrod in "The Miracle Morning," incorporating a structured morning routine can help individuals achieve a state of Flow every day. Activities such as reading, meditation, gratitude, affirmation, journaling, and Yoga align closely with Csikszentmihalyi’s components of Flow. For instance, Yoga is described as a meticulously planned Flow activity, where the state of internal flow is referred to as "sattva," a Sanskrit term.

Reading is another activity highlighted by Csikszentmihalyi as a common Flow activity worldwide. Finding Flow in one's occupation and relationships with others is also crucial for improving the overall quality of life.

The External State of Flow: Connecting with Others

The second aspect of Flow involves the frequency and methods of external connectedness, especially with significant people like clients or other leaders. Maintaining Flow in relationships is about surrounding oneself with individuals who elevate and inspire, rather than those who diminish one's potential.

Building Relationships in Flow

For leaders and businesspeople, being in Flow with other leaders is paramount. These relationships are pivotal in making key decisions, understanding market dynamics, and accessing valuable networks. Leaders who practice mindful leadership and service-oriented values are particularly influential in fostering a positive and productive Flow.

It is also important to cultivate Flow with customers, vendors, and colleagues. These connections are essential for creating a harmonious and successful professional environment. Leaders who give generously and serve the communal good, as advised by the Tao Te Ching, often find themselves surrounded by abundance and opportunities.

Practical Applications

To put Flow into practice in the workplace, resources like Larry Kendall’s "Ninja Selling" offer practical strategies. By embracing Flow in both personal and professional spheres, individuals can create a balanced and fulfilling life, marked by affluence and influence.

Being in Flow is about mastering the internal state of optimal experience and nurturing meaningful external connections. By focusing on these aspects, one can achieve a state of Presence that enhances both personal well-being and professional success.