“Energy goes where attention flows”
Have you ever experienced that state of being so immersed in an activity that time seems to distort? Hours feel like minutes, your actions seem oddly slowed down or animated, and your sense of awareness is heightened? Your sense of colour is intensified, and it feels like you can hear a pin drop? It feels like you are at one with the task in hand and that you are unstoppable! Ronnie O’Sullivan would say that when he was at his best, the pockets looked as big as goal posts. Mike Tyson would state that the boxing match was in slow motion. It’s the classic picture of the inspired author at his typewriter all night, not knowing where the time has gone
What you have experienced is the peak state, “flow”. This was first termed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high), who described this as process by which we achieve an ecstatic, peak state. In further developing this, author Steven Kotler, founder of the flow genome project, aimed at bringing together and providing training in the use of flow. It’s been described as the sweet spot between anxiety and boredom. Its commonly known as “being in the zone”
Csikszentmihalyi cites 8 components of the flow experience
1. Clarity of goals. If you know where you’re going you can get there faster and more efficiently. Giving an immediate critique enhances this process
2. High concentration in a restricted area. Working on a specific task with clear boundaries enhances the flow process to take place
3. Skills, balance challenge. You must have the right “stretch” to make it challenging but not too much to overwhelm you
4. Feeling of control. It is important to feel as if you are in charge of your actions, feeling in balance with yourself
5. Effortlessness. The experience feels organic. Thought slows down and actions seem spontaneous. Over thinking is dispelled
6. Altered perception of time. Things seem to slow down or indeed speed up
7. Blending of action and consciousness. Distractions are disrupted and actions seem to have a natural flow
8. “autotelic” quality. It’s not only the outcome of the activity that is rewarding, but also the feeling of being in flow that has an appeal in itself
According to Kotler, flow state is a biological process where the body stacks the feel-good chemicals in a particular order at a particular percentage. If the body produces these in a specific way, then you achieve the flow state.
So how do you get the body to produce this precise chemical and emotional recipe? It turns out that the best way is with extreme sports! But for us mortals who value our lives, this may not be an option. Virtual reality provides another, safer way. However, when it comes to practical application, the easiest way to attain flow state is by setting clear goals that lessen opportunities for distraction, create clear outcomes and help you to develop a laser like concentration. Planning your days, your outcomes and your actions can lead to an optimum state. In the words of Seneca, “if one does not know to which port one is sailing, then no wind is favourable”. Knowing your destination and your route is key to attaining a peak state
By reverse engineering, we arrive at a clear and progressive route to flow. Interestingly the starting point is curiosity. If you can develop a childlike inquisitiveness about your goals, filled with excitement and awe, this will fire your passion. In growing your passion, you will reinforce your sense of purpose. With these dynamics in play, you have just set yourself up for the perfect opportunity to experience flow state.
So, our equation is very simple.
CURIOSITY PASSION PURPOSE FLOW
Recent research has outlined that, in achieving a flow state can increase your productivity by up to 500%. The same research also exposed the fact that we are so out of flow in any given day, that we only attain peak state for approximately 11 minutes per day. However, if we were to optimise our flow state, we could achieve in one day what most people could achieve in one week
NLP offers a particularly effective way of helping you to attain peak performance or flow states. We can help you to identify your flow triggers, your particular flow state, your flow blocks and the specific way in which you can manage your life in order to maintain your peak state. We can help you to induce an optimum mindset at will, and to heighten that experience. You can make sure that the blocks to flow have been removed and you no longer feel that progress is slow, clunky and hard work. Combined with the NLP breakthrough process, you can achieve effortless growth in a short period of time, and maintain that optimum state
Life does not have to be filled with the distractions that stop you moving into a state of effortlessness. You don’t have to fight your way through your day. You can choose a more thoughtful process that helps you define your goals in any area of your life and become aligned with those goals. It doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Flow is a wonderful and natural state, that possesses its own particular magic