Leadership Thought – FLOW

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FLOW, as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, entails the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Similarly to the sexual experience of an orgasm, which is described as the physical and emotional sensation experienced at the peak of sexual excitation, experiencing FLOW while working is a good thing! At least for me! LOL!

How do we experience more FLOW while doing our jobs? Well, it appears that there are a couple of requirements. First start out by noticing and cataloging identifiable FLOW experiences, or as Abraham Maslow described as “peak experiences.” Here are 10 considerations, to unpack, audit, assess, FLOW experiences:

1.What am I doing, how am I performing this FLOW work function?
2.Why is this activity being performed?
3.Who is there, and why are they there?
4.Are other individuals participating, facilitating the FLOW experience?
5.What equipment am I using to support, facilitate the FLOW experience?
6.How is my body responding? Sweat, heart rate, emotional, mental, other sensations?
7.What are my thoughts focused on?
8.Was there a transition period, before FLOW occurred?
9.Can the conditions which produced the FLOW experience be replicated?
10.Is there a “time” awareness?

My consulting practice and work with some amazing individuals alerts me that being in FLOW, is not something that one experiences everyday! However it is my contention, that to really have meaningful work experiences, it is something that should be experienced on a somewhat regular basis. If you are not experiencing episodes of FLOW, I submit you are in the wrong job, and your highest potential and gift is left unused, or underused.

For many, they never achieve FLOW while at work. For me that’s sad. The reality is, we all will spend a great amount of hours and effort doing our jobs, vocation, or occupation, and it appears somewhat of a travesty that our work experiences can not include high-end FLOW experiences. If that is something you are struggling with, consider re-crafting your current job, or think about getting a different job, should your work experience not include FLOW.

My FLOW experiences consist of working within my consulting practice. I cannot convey to you how much joy, fulfillment, engagement, experienced working with some of the most extraordinary people on the planet!! Working with you and others gives me the opportunity to experience FLOW on a regular basis! Although I do not experience FLOW every time we interact, I must confess that 90% of the time I do! You may not look forward to meeting with me, but I do! LOL!

Today, I did a presentation on the topic of leadership to a group of 60 senior executives, over at the Sheraton Chicago. I had not done such a talk with group this large of distinguished individuals of men and women. Coming in, I was a bit intimidated. However, my intention was to engage elements of Bravery, Love, Love of Learning, Honesty, which are a few of my high functioning character strengths. I thought during my “pre-work” that I would be authentic, genuine, engaging, fueled by “Zest’! Well, I loved the experience!

As I settled into the presentation’s content, I could feel myself being swept away and synthesized by the topic, with a strong connection with the various faces in the room. I was so happy!! I only had 30-40 minutes, but delivered what I am told the best presentation heard, within a forum which was conducted on a monthly basis. As I came “back” I thought about the experience, and how good and amazing it felt. It was an intense, physical, emotional and spiritual, for me!

There was a line of individuals wanting my business card, and congratulating me on a fantastic talk. I found it hard to believe that my talk, which I thought as a bit esoteric, and abstruse, would be received in such a rousing fashion. Of course I have done many talks, and I have found the experience to be similar, from my standpoint. My thinking: “How could I personally experience so much joy, and that same joy be experienced by others too? Was what they are telling me true?” Well, I tend to accept their assessment.

This Week’s Practice:

My question for you is when have you experience your last FLOW event? If you haven’t experienced one lately, why not? If so, I would invite you to take the aforementioned audit, to assess and replicate. It has worked for me, and I promise it will impact your well-being and happiness!

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