In essence, flow allows you to go beyond what you believed possible. When you feel like you`re going nowhere, allow yourself to sit in that moment instead of browsing off and you`re able to enter the Zone!
Now, let`s talk about a few requirements to actually enter the Zone!
According to Steven Kotler, there are four big areas which trigger Flow: External and internal Triggers, Group Flow Triggers, and Creativity!
#1: High Consequences
When there are high consequences for failure, you`re almost forced to enter the Zone.
But it doesn`t need to be the Surfer trying to surfe the mega wave and it`s either thrive or die.
It can also be the Speaker who´s on stage.
Or the Writer who needs to meet a Deadline.
In other words, we need to be fully committed and there needs to be some kind of risk involved.
#2: Rich environment
When there`s novelty, unpredictability and complexity, our chances of entering the Zone go way up. Because now we can`t rely on autopilot.
“Novelty means danger and opportunity!” — Steven Kotler
In such an environment, we need to stay sharp and alert. This kind of environment tightens your focus and drives flow.
Ways to enrichen your environment:
- Change your routines!
- Seek out nature (very rich environment)!
- Rotate your work environments (a unique place to work from on different days, for Example)!
#3: Deep Embodiement
Did you know that 50% of our nerve endings are in our hands, feet and face?
To enter the Zone, we need to be also physically demanded. We need full body awareness. So we`re forced to pay attention to all the sensory inputs at once.
So, anything that ensures movement seems to be a good idea to enter the Zone. Ideas range from walking Meditation to balance and agility Training to Yoga to Dancing.
Whatever you like. And it doesn`t need to be much. Just activate your body in some way.
In essence: to ensure you get into the Zone, make sure that you`re not only mentally, but also physically demanded!
#1: Clear Goals
We need to have Clarity of what to focus on. We need to absolutely know what we`re trying to achieve right now.
That´s when you´re able to arrow your Focus and disregard the unimportant. The moment right here is all that`s left. And when you can focus on the present moment, on the Challenge at hand, then you actually have a shot at solving it!
#2: Immediate Feedback
“When Feedback is immediate, the information we require is always close at hand.” — Steven Kotler
The Basketball-Player knows whether the throw has been nailed or missed. The Surfer immediately knows whether he crushed that wave or the wave crushed the Surfer. There`s an immediate response.
Well, for most of us, Feedback isn`t that immediate.
So we need to bring it back into the Present. We need to tighten our Feedback-Loops.
Now, we don`t need to get Feedback immediately. But every evening, I review my own Performance. I review whether what I produced that day was any good. Whether I progressed my dream.
I highly recommend you do the same. Just keep in mind this quote by Peter Drucker:
“What gets measured gets improved.” — Peter Drucker
Always make sure that you keep track of your progress. And it can be as simple as rating yourself on a scale of 1–10 every evening in the Level of your Productivity. Don`t overcomplicate.
Tool: I highly recommend the High Performance Planner by Brendon Burchard. Absolutely amazing!
We`re most engaged when there`s Challenge and Difficulty involved. As Steven Kotler puts it: “Flow appears near the midpoint between boredom and anxiety!”
And the sweet spot seems to be around 4% above your current abilities. That keeps attention locked in the present moment, while you`re not completely freaked out about the huge Challenge ahead of you.
In other words, the key is to keep working on the razor´s edge of your capabilities and skills!
“Creativity triggers flow; then Flow enhances Creativity!” — Steven Kotler
The process of developing original, disruptive ideas involves a lot of risk, which in turn is a Flow-Trigger.
You`re risking rejection and disapproval, if you, for Example, release a Book that`s never been there before. Or you`re on stage, giving everything that you got.
When you`re disrupting the Status Quo, you`re always triggering a lot of risk. Which means, the creative act itself is an exceptional Flow-Trigger.
Group Flow unites everybody. There`s no difference between the people in the Group. When one person enters Flow and achieves a major feat, others are motivated to do the same.
That`s, for Example, one of the reasons why Action Sports pushed the edge so much in the last 50 years. Because of the ability to record what you`ve achieved. Others are witnessing your Performance and want to push the envelope even further.
That´s how Performance of a special group excels.
And I bet you`ve heard the story of Roger Bannister, right? As the first human ever he crushed the 4-Minute-Mile, which seemed impossible before.
Well, once he did it, many Athletes followed in the very same year.
A couple of years after he broke the 4-Minute-Mile, even a High-School-Student crushed that barrier.
Simply because the mental Barrier had been taken away!
The Lesson here: dare to do what´s never been done before. Strive to set the bar even higher!
Flow enhances your creative Output, Productivity and Performance massively. You´ll reach heights of Performance that seemed impossible before, plus you`ll enhance your skills in a massive way.
In order to get into Flow, you`ll need to Struggle. There´s no way around it. It`s part of the Process.
The key is in allowing yourself to sit in Struggle. It is uncomfortable, I know, but do whatever you need to do to make that happen.
Maybe, you need to work in a room without anything else in it (like so many of the creatives of the past and the present). Maybe you`ll decide to enrichen your environment by being in Nature or changing your Routine. Find your way into Flow.
And remember this: everybody has the ability to enter Flow. Once we know how, we can create an environment which makes it much more likely.
And: don`t worry, if you`re not entering Flow every time. As I´m writing this Article, for most of the time I actually didn`t feel like in Flow. The key is in staying at it, getting started despite maybe not being motivated and inspired.
That`s what ultimately means being a PRO. And which will lead to your breakthrough!