This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Hyperautomation

How Flow can affect your productivity and work

Being like an Olympic or Professional Athlete will benefit you in life, and in business

By VICTOR ANJOS

Chances are, at some point in your life, you have experienced flow. Athletes call it being “in the zone”, and Buddhist monks refer to it as a “heightened state of consciousness”. Flow describes those times where you get lost in the moment, becoming so involved in a task that you lose some sense of awareness of yourself and time.

As an entrepreneur and technologist, I typically encounter flow when I succeed in tackling complicated concepts, learning an obscure topic or developing new AI models.  In these highly engaging sessions, it sometimes feels like a hour has gone by only to see it has been only a few minutes.  Flow produces such a powerful therapeutic effect, that both me and any of my partners or staff (developers and data scientists) react to it extremely positively.  We both complete the work, get great results and are often in awe, with my partners and staff often feeling like I “blew their mind” and myself feeling highly skilled and effective.

Athletes call it being “in the zone”, and Buddhist monks refer to it as a “heightened state of consciousness”

What exactly happens psychologically when we experience flow?  And, why is this state of heightened consciousness inherently peaceful and relaxing?  These mysteries are at the center of new moment in psychology (called “positive psychology”) which aims to better understand human flourishing and positive emotional states.

Flow was first described by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who in 2002 wrote a popular book on the subject and became well-known for this research in the realm of positive psychology.  Through Mihaly’s work, psychology discovered one of the first underlying mechanisms to happiness and relaxation.  The concept of flow was exciting because it appeared to be universal across all cultures.

What constitutes a good life? Few questions are of more fundamental importance to a positive psychology. Flow research has yielded one answer, providing an understanding of experiences during which individuals are fully involved in the present moment. Viewed through the experiential lens of flow, a good life is one that is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. In this chapter, we describe the flow model of optimal experience and optimal development, explain how flow and related constructs have been measured, discuss recent work in this area, and identify some promising directions for future research.

What is Flow? 

The technical definition

Flow is the mental state in which a person is engaged in an activity where they are fully immersed with a feeling of  energized focus, involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

You have undoubtedly been in a flow state before. Athletes call it “being in the zone,” mystics call it “ecstacy,” and artists call it “rapture.” It’s when you stop thinking and just do. A champion chess player gets into a flow state when he/she is playing a game of chess against a grand master. A concert pianist gets into a flow state during a performance. Warren Buffet gets into a flow state when he is deciding whether or not to purchase a stock.
”Flow is when you are 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.”

Conditions for Flow

Flow cannot be forced, but you can set up some ideal conditions for flow to occur. Flow occurs when you engage in an activity which exists between the boundary of boredom and anxiety. The task you take on cannot be too challenging that you feel anxious; nor can it be too easy, that you feel bored. If you find an activity with the perfect level of challenge, you may find your flow.
 

What Produces Flow? 

It has been found that flow occurs when we experience a state of psychological tension that is manageable for us.  That level of challenge heightens our perception, but also preoccupies our consciousness with the task at hand.  So, if flow is anything, it is simply a state of hyper-focus.

 

Flow is more likely to happen in situations of:

  1. High Achievement:  The desired outcome of the activity is highly rewarding.
  2. High Concentration:  The task is sufficiently challenging.
  3. High Control:  As an individual, you can effect change in the outcome.
  4. Sensory Connection:  Where you have to connect deeply with your environment (or sensory experience) in order to succeed at the task.
  5. Immediate Feedback:  The environment or situation produces a real-time sense of achievement or progress towards goals.
 

Flow & the Sense of Self

Most people in a state of flow report losing awareness of their existence.   Paradoxically, however, the experience of flow actually strengthens the awareness of self over time.  So people who experience flow regularly typically have a stronger sense of self.
 
This effect is believed to be the reason why flow states can help reduce depressive symptoms.  This is also the primary theory why some interventions (like mindfulness meditation) are effective in treating depression.
 

The Loss of Flow 

Conversely, people who previously have experienced flow often report strongly negative experiences when they can no longer achieve it.   For example, Olympic athletes who become injured (and can no longer compete in their sport) have a concordantly higher risk of depression.  Aside from simply losing their identity and accomplishments, these athletes also lost the ability to attain flow.

Flow may also be the primary mechanism behind workaholism, or people who become so intensely focussed on work that they neglect themselves and/or their family.

So, flow is not inherently good or bad.  It just is.  We can use flow as a powerful tool to dramatically impact how we feel in a given moment.  To change our state of mind.  Because of this, flow is a crucial component of attaining mastery and purpose in life.

Why is flow awesome for you? 

Research shows that flow experiences enhance well-being. Flow can also produce improved performance in various domains including teaching, learning, athletics and artistic creativity. Think about the last time that you lost track of time.  What were you doing?  Preparing dinner?  Singing in the shower?  Reading a book?  Find your flow and help your youthlings find theirs as well
 

So what do you do when all signs point to having to go to University to gain any sort of advantage?  Unfortunately it’s the current state of affairs that most employers will not hire you unless you have a degree for even junior or starting jobs. Once you have that degree, coming to my Mentor Program, with 1000ml with our Patent Pending training system, the only such system in the world; is the only way to gain the practical knowledge and experience that will jump start your career.

Check out our next dates below for our upcoming seminars, labs and programs, we’d love to have you there.

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