Lately I’ve become fascinated with the concept of ‘Flow’. I came across it through the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who I believe is a preeminent thinker in this area.
Now, the more I read about it, the more I can relate to it through either personal experiences or the experiences of others.
Warren Buffett in Alice Schroeder’s “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” describes why he enjoys his work and what he enjoys about it; the key word being “intensity”.
This is a simple word that changes our understanding about doing what we love and loving what we do. The word “intensity” clarifies that we enjoy doing something not because it’s easy, but rather that it’s something that challenges our capabilities.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines Flow as the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed with a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process.
In essence, Flow is characterised by complete absorption in what one does. It is the stage between boredom and anxiety where you feel:
- Completely involved in what you are doing – focused, concentrated.
- A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
- Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well you are doing.
- Knowing that the activity is doable – that your skills are adequate to the task.
- A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
- Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes.
- Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces Flow becomes its own reward.
Do you remember the last time you experienced Flow? Are you experiencing Flow now?