I listened to a podcast this week that has me just lit with excitement and many aha moments. If you haven’t listened to the Unmistakable Creative podcast by Srini Rao, I highly recommend it. In it Srini interviews a variety of artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, researchers etc. from all over the planet who are doing amazing things. While cooking, exercising or in the car, I listen to his interviews and always walk away from them feeling like I have received very valuable, useful and inspirational information for my own life.
The Flow State
This recent interview with bestselling author, journalist and entrepreneur, Steven Kotler hit a deep revelatory nerve for me, coincidentally just on the heels of my last post about what I call Bigness. Steve shared in the interview what he has learned about the flow state.
Tapping Into Flow for Greatness
He defined the flow state as being a state of timelessness, clarity, ease and focus. He talked about how all humans in history that made massive contributions to civilization experienced this state and it was their source of greatness.
They tapped into this state almost always by accident at first, and then put great efforts to re experience it as much as they could, followed by structuring their lives around the things they found regularly helped them experience that state.
Steve is part of a project called the Flow Genome Project where scientists from a variety of disciplines, who have been gathering their own flow research for the past 50 years, share their findings.
Hacking The 10,000 Hour Mastery Principle
This state of flow has been most easily studied in high performance athletes as it is the source of all of today’s successful, most record breaking athletes. According to Steve getting into the flow state is a skill and the research has revealed many triggers of it. In this one video that really caught my eye, Steve’s partner, Jamie Wheal shares how
tapping into this state repeatedly, has been proven to hack the 10,000 hour mastery formula that Malcolm Gladwell made so famous, by cutting that time in half!
He starts talking about it about 9:30 minutes into the video.
From Surfer to Stay At Home Mom
I heard many parallels between what they call flow and my experience of Bigness. Jamie Wheal shares an uncanny similar description of this state as giving the most densest form of energy and how it helps to make better decisions.
One of the things that triggers a flow state is challenging oneself just enough to push past ones comfort zone but not enough to get stressed about it and give up.
This was definitely my experience while jogging and writing as I shared in my last post of “Why Finding Your Bigness Changes Everything”. Another trigger is social where when a flow state is tapped within interactions between people, they find themselves on the same page and have such efficient communication that there is a merging of mind and energy. I also shared how I experienced Bigness in my relationships as well.
The Prop-less Flow Hack
Meditation James mentioned, is a great way to tap into this state without the high scale risks like the ones top champion skiers and snowboarders need. Meditation for me was the most practical and repeatable way to most regularly get into that state without depending on jogging, writing dancing or people. I need to add, it’s not that I don’t enjoy those sources regularly, it’s just that I don’t depend on them as my constant source.
The Flow For Everyday People
I’m not a high performance athlete, I’m a regular person who has balanced 9 to 5 jobs along with school work, social life and in recent years balanced being a stay at home mom, my commitment to volunteering to meaningful causes and growing as much of our family’s own food as possible. In my 20 years of being on this journey of repeatedly trying to get back to this nameless THING that I couldn’t pin down, that is soo good, that I only recently have been able to name as Bigness, it brings me relief to know that scientists all over the world have been studying it. It brings relief to know that IT has been given an official name as Flow and that
in our human history the greatest do-good-changemakers have gone to great lengths to capture this state and harness it’s life giving power.
Not Skiing Slopes, Just Richer Living
What I know to my very bones is that this flow/Bigness has been the source of all the good in my life, clearing food addictions, relationship addictions, lifting depression, healing suicidal tendencies for good, filling my life with meaning, given me energy to do more of what I love, having me sleep better (when I DO sleep), increasing my focus, increasing my clarity, helping me be more relaxed, open, compassionate and centered.
Finding My Flow Formula
What has been validated for me is that putting much of my energy into finding my way back into this state repeatedly has been well worth the effort. I realize what I call my morning power routine, seen now through this lens, is actually a series of daily, non- negotiable triggers that I have found most efficiently helps me to tap into this inner place. The biggest triggers for me I’ve habituated to do first thing in the morning while all the others come after. As a whole these activities work together symbiotically like a formula that is regularly tweeked.
I will be writing more about this in future posts as I have a cascade of points I’d like to share. One point outlining the challenges of getting enough sleep (which Jamie Wheal says is foundational) for a family person like myself who doesn’t have the complete control over their environment to have 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep like those high performance athletes. Another is how finding my triggers into this state so simplified my journey of self development and healing.
For your own reading and listening pleasure on this topic check out these great links I found.