What is Flow
Below, we show you everything you need to understand the state of flow
“THE FLOW STATE IS WHAT TAKES LIFE TO THE NEXT LEVEL, FOR ENJOYMENT AND PERFORMANCE. IT HAS BEEN CRITICAL TO REACHING A STRING OF EXCELLENT PERFORMANCES.”
Rebecca Soni –
6 Olympic Medals & World Record Holder
BENEFITS OF FLOW
How we use flow can make the difference between success and failure—a fully engaged life or not.
In flow, we embody a level of internal harmony and optimal level of functioning that propels us beyond our ordinary experiences. We discover our abilities, accelerate our learning, and our lives become richer, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. Put simply, flow allows us to feel our best and perform our best.
Flow is frequently labelled as the missing link between performance and well-being.
Flow is widely considered—both academically and anecdotally—as our optimal state of functioning. Athletes spend their lives honing their ability to find flow.
“Flow sits at the heart of the majority, if not all, of the greatest athletic performances”, explains flow scientist Sue Jackson.
World leaders such as Virgin’s founder, Richard Branson, have sung the praises of flow. Google, Red Bull and many other leading companies have integrated the principles of flow into their workplace. In fact, the McKinsey Global Research Institute spent 10-years interviewing over 5000 executives to discover that executives are five times more productive in flow. In learning contexts, the United States Air Force Research Laboratory have reported “a twofold improvement in how long a person can maintain performance,” asserts biomedical engineer, Andy McKinley.
In short, being in flow allows us to utilise our biology, acumen, and training as intended without the many barriers and distractions that typically limit our application.
DOES FLOW EXIST?
Before getting carried away, it is important to critically assess this ‘flow state’. Our team have spent decades examining flow and found that when we separate flow from other similar states, we are better placed to replicate it in our lives.
Flow can be experienced in any human endeavour, from the tasks of daily living to demonstrations of outstanding levels of performance.
Flow is known by many different names in different activities. Musicians talk about being in the ‘groove’, jazz musicians find the ‘pocket’, fighter pilots enter the ‘bubble’, coders become ‘wired in’, basketballers play as if they are ‘on fire’, and others simply call it ‘getting into the zone’. Scientifically, these experiences are called ‘flow’.
Recognising flow in our life and in those around us is critical to helping our mind and body find it in the future. The better we are at identifying flow the easier it will be to engineer it.
“[Flow is] where one becomes totally absorbed in what one is doing, to the exclusion of all other thoughts and emotions. A harmonious experience where mind and body are working together effortlessly, leaving the person feeling that something special has just occurred…Flow lifts experience from the ordinary to the optimal, and it is in those moments that we feel truly alive and in tune with what we are doing.” Susan Jackson
“It didn’t feel like I was shooting my shots, but like they were shooting themselves.” Olympic archer Denise Parker
Such experiences can easily become like blind spots in our mind; we know they exist, but we never properly stop to see them and understand them fully. Consequently, for most of us, flow experiences hover unexplored and unexplained in our mind, limiting our ability to find them frequently.
Over the last 50 years flow has been scientifically proven to be robust across different activities, skill levels, cultures, genders, ages, and demographics. In the last decade, flow has been studied more than ever before, helping to bridge the gap between science and practice.
Once flow is understood, we can curate the conditions that set the stage for its occurrence; we can create a practical pathway to find it consistently in our lives.
Put simply, flow occurs when everything comes together. It is a rewarding state of absorption in which control feels more effortless and our actions feel more fluid than normal.
Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you will have already experienced flow.
By identifying flow in our lives, we remind our mind and body what is important; we give direction to future experiences.
EMPOWERING YOUR EXPERIENCE
Our experience varies throughout the day. Between leisurely getting out of bed and running late for an important event, our experience fluctuates.
Ordinarily, most of us often feel that this fluctuation is a direct result of what life throws at us and what is happening around us. Yet if we want to find flow frequently it is important to flip this script. We need to stop blaming—or giving responsibility to—external events, circumstances, or other people for our experience.
“It is useful to remember occasionally that life unfolds as a chain of subjective experiences…The quality of these experiences determine whether, and to what extent, life was worth living” – Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is an optimal experience. And we are very much in charge of our experience, if we know how. Which is exactly what we teach you on our courses.
Our challenge to you is to start becoming aware of your experience throughout the day, and then see if you can dial it up or improve your experience, even in stressful situations or if the circumstances are not so favourable.