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Why is it so imported to be attracted by the profession? How can such attraction be produced and sustained over time?
How is it possible that one worker is happy and more or less relaxed coming home on Friday evenings, whereas others seem to be worn out already on Tuesday at lunch? The answer is simple: The happy worker performs his profession in a state of flow, whereas the worn out person is not in a state of flow and does, therefore, consume too much energy.
A person who succeeds to reach a state of effortless concentration and enjoyment is in a flow state. The effortless action they feel in moments stand out as the best in their lives. It is more than happiness, it is the full involvement of flow, no passive pleasure. In this state there is no difference between the inner experiencing and the outer world. Time has lost its importance. Thinking, feeling, and action are balanced and well co-ordinated. Activity feels as effortless.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
The more I am in a state of flow, the more I am motivated towards such activity. I just do it, because I like it. The motivation lies truly within me, and I do not need any motivation or benefits to come from outside. Under these conditions the work is done easily. Even, from doing an activity in the state of flow, I may gain some energy.
Methods and attitudes most likely pushing you towards a flow state
Step 1: Consider your task/job as a kind of game
In a real game we get continuous feedback, usually by winning certain points. Imagine you‘re doing your job playfully like you do a sport game with specific targets. Imagine any task or assignment, as if it was pure sport activity. Become aware of possible difficulties or emerging conflict, and then design or appreciate the rules of the game. Make arrangements in your work to get fast and regular feedback.
Step 2: Keep your intention in your mind
While you are doing you remember the main force behind the whole activity. What is the driving force that makes you do this at all? Remember: This activity means more to you than just attaining goals and achieving aims. More important is the reason, why you have decided to do this at all, why you wand to meet these targets.
Step 3: Concentration
Stay with your thoughts at what you are doing. If your mind wanders from the subject, this is a sign that you have departed from the flow state. In this case you turn back your attention and focus again on what you see, hear, feel, smell, just at this moment, for example on the detailed structure of the rock surface, when you are climbing in a cliff. Concentrate again on your specific next task and adjust the task‘s difficulty to such a level that you feel save to totally step in.
Step 4: Surrender to the occurrence of the flow feelings
This is the biggest secret related to the flow emergence process: You will have fun with your job, with the specific task. There is no requirement of giving you a special kick, no efforts are needed. You will be in a state of timelessness without any force pushing you to think or reflect.
Step 5: Being embraced in a sense of delight
Feeling exalted is an ecstasies result in this flow state emergence process. You start to realize you are in this state of extreme delight, almost ecstatic, just like flying through your work. At this moment you are aware of really being in the flow state.
Step 6: Peak performances
The sense of delight and ecstasies evolves because the brain in its totality is united in a joint action. It appears as if all nerves dance the same rhythm. This state of consciousness is easy to recognize. In the state of awareness you have the feeling to produce an effect without really thinking. Productivity reaches incredible levels of hight. In other words: In the case you intend to chase off boredom or disquieteness from your life, you just choose a challenging new mission or task and let yourself be emerged in the flow state. No matter what activity you may choose, it can be anything. Just keep thinking: It is a kind of game, and this game is about getting rewarded not criticized.
Wishing you plenty of opportunities merging into flow states.
Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1996), Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life, Basic Books.
Jackson, Susan A. & Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1999), Flow in Sports: The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances, Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics Publishers.
“Very gently. Like there are eggshells on your pedals, and you don’t want to break them. That’s how you drive in the rain.” Balance, anticipation, patience. These are all vital. Peripheral vision, seeing things you’ve never seen before. Kinesthetic sensation, driving by the seat of the pants. It is about having no memory. No memory of things he’d done just a second before. Good or bad. Because memory is time folding back on itself. To remember is to disengage from the present. ln order to reach any kind of success in automobile racing, the driver must never remember. Which is why drivers compulsively record their every move, their every race, with cockpit cameras in-car-video, data mapping; a driver cannot be a witness to his own greatness. Racing is doing. lt is being a part of a moment and being aware of nothing else but that moment. Reflection must come at a later time. A champion says: “When l am racing, my mind and my body are working so quickly and so well together, I must be sure not to think; or else I will definitely make a mistake.”
Not-thinking sounds simple, but to get there is more difficult. It requires mental toughness and coaching. How can I bring my body-mind system to co-operating so perfectly that I can experience these flow-states also in my professional life? Where is coaching useful to achieve this flow state of pure doing, remaining fully absorbed in the present, gaining more power the more I am doing? In the first part of these blog article series I will emphasize the need for thorough training to be able of ‘doing’ in the state of not-thinking. Thereafter we take a look at inner brakes, brakes preventing from using one’s full performative potential. Why is it so important to remain fascinated by what we are doing? How can we sustain such attraction over time? The answer to these and more questions will be provided in the subsequent parts of this article.
To get started an activity within a few minutes, while keeping calm and concentrated, is an everyday challenge of our professional life. While we act and do, the most important thing is to stay focussed, being part of the moment and to evaluate afterwards. The champions are well prepared. They know and control their engines. Requisite to such ability is not only technical finesse, but also physical muscular strength. Here we may find considerable differences between the racers. You may see some among them in the gym every day, building up their strength, endurance, sense of balance, or the driving skills. Others, however, are less disciplined and thus take a higher risk to lose control over the bike. As a rule of thumb the physical condition of a race driver should such that would allow him to compete in three races in a row at the same level of intensity. Given this level of endurance and strength he can then ensure full performance in the competitive run. Similar to the race driver any person required to perform in present day business needs a professional preparation for his tasks. Such preparation has to cover some of these areas:
The (private) environment of the athlete or the staff: Is it sound or could it cause insecurity or change and therefore be the source of stress?
Is the working time compensated for by sufficient and restorative recreation? What goes on apart of the demanding professional performance needs?
What kinds of specific developmental support and appreciation are necessary? Is there a need for more physical strength, muscel training or body building? Such questions are discussed with a qualified coach, when people’s promotion is on your agenda. Qualified staff need to be supported within the frames of a structured development process. What professional skills need to be enhanced? What about adding to the social competence? The development process has to be planned and the plans be assessed and monitored continuously. Such on-going constructive evaluation processes ensure more motivation and resilience to stress.
B) Remove inner brakes
Presumed a racer is technically and physically well prepared, the support team works in perfect coordination and the right decisions are taken, what then, in the race, makes the difference to success? Obviously, the racer’s mental and emotional pre-dispositions play a crucial role. Foremost important is the dealing with emotions. Taking into consideration the challenges of driving, emotions must stay irrelevant during the race. The wish to revenge, anger, or other similar emotional states suck up a lot of energy diverting attention from the driving tasks. Therefore such emotions have to be neutralised before the race. Similarly I cannot unfold all my competence in my work, while emotions continue to irritate me. As a qualified team member I am aware of this condition and therefore I try to suppress such emotion. Again, this is using up energy and reducing my impact. So with increasing work we achieve lesser and lesser.
These emotions are normally re-processed by our body-mind system during the night. Normally. Unfortunately most of the high performers in business amass emotional stress remaining undigested over weeks and months. Often, to remove these build-ups the help of an external coach is required. By applying such methods as for example wingwave or hypnosis the accumulated stress can be re-processed.
Yours Claude Ribaux
1)From: ‘The art of racing in the rain’ by Garth Stein