Get into the Flow and Perform Your Best in Business
If you’ve ever seen a virtuoso violinist play so fast you can barely see her fingers move or have watched a tennis pro respond to a speeding volley even before she knows where the ball is going to land, you have witnessed the flow state in action. When we are in the flow state, we can achieve things we never thought possible. And you don’t have to be a genius or naturally gifted to experience it. All of us can, and do from time to time, slip into the flow state. By cultivating it, you can enhance your performance and realize your best self.
Steven Kotler, author of The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer, defines the flow state as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best, peak performance.” It is a state of rapt attention and total absorption when you get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears. Think of a time when you were so wrapped up in a design project that you lost all track of time and place. You seem to have unbounded energy and creativity and surprised yourself at what you produced. You were in a flow state.
Studies have shown that the flow state results from neurochemistry and neuroelectric changes in the brain, neuroanatomy and neural networks. Kotler explains that the flow state can be activated by any one of six neural network triggers: curiosity, passion, purpose, autonomy, mastery, and challenge-skills balance. When our brains are stimulated by one or a combination of these triggers, it kicks into high gear, fueled by the production of positive and energy-enhancing neurochemicals. Thus, we can cultivate a flow state intentionally by activating one of the triggers, such as by reading about or exploring some topic about which we are curious or practicing to master a skill. Do this regularly and you will increase your capabilities over time beyond what you currently think is possible and achieve levels of performance you only have imagined.
When you’ve mastered the flow state, you will be able to tackle what I call a Massively Transformative Purpose. Something grandiose and audacious that brings significant change to an industry community or planet. What is one of your grand passions? How can you apply it to accomplish a great purpose? Via the flow state you can apply your best self to produce your best work.
I highly recommend you read The Art of Impossible to learn more about each of the triggers and to get Kotler’s detailed presentation on how to cultivate the flow state to reach your peak level of performance. I found it life-changing and believe you will, too.