Create the perfect conditions for flow
I can’t get this German song out of my head while writing this. “Perfekte Welle” (Perfect wave), was the name of the first single of German pop/rock group Juli. Released in 2004, it peaked at number two in the German and Austrian single charts. Singer Eva Briegel describes how on a perfect day, the perfect wave arrives, and she suggests to just ride it and not to think about it. In nature, this is very true; the perfect conditions don’t come along often but clever engineers build the Flowrider which continuously delivers the perfect wave. I won’t get you in a continuous stream of flow but I will share some tips on how to get into it, be aware of it and use it for extraordinary performance:
What is flow?
In positive psychology flow is the full involvement and identification with an activity. In fact, a person is so fully immersed that everything else recedes into the background and becomes unimportant. They forget about time and don’t feel fatigue. The person in flow experiences a feeling of energized focus, they feel elevated and inspired, which results in them letting go and enjoying the process of the activity.
How to get in flow?
You can enter flow while performing any task, although it will most likely occur when you are wholeheartedly performing an activity for intrinsic purposes. There is a set of conditions that needs to be met to achieve a state of flow:
- Clear goals – This adds direction and structure to the task.
- Immediate feedback – Will help to navigate changing demands and allows performance adjustments to stay in flow.
- Balance between challenges/opportunity and skills – You must have confidence in your ability to complete the task at hand.
Not only you as an individual can enter a state of flow, but also a group of people working together can do that. The same principles apply, such as clear goals, immediate feedback and the balance between challenge/opportunity and skills. There are certain frameworks like Design Thinking that help create flow.
Flow is a positive growth experience that is very enjoyable and leads to positive affect, better performance, personal development and happiness. You will emerge with great feelings of competence and efficacy.
In our digitalised, hectic lives, getting into flow might sometimes be a challenge. Next time you experience flow, think about the conditions I described before and observe yourself what other factors, like your workplace, quietness of a meeting room, turning off notifications on your devices, etc. helped you to be in a state of flow and allowed you to stay there. It is a state of mind worth while exploring!
With all good things there is a warning at the end. When you get out of your flow, look back, widen your focus from the perfect wave to the entire ocean, there might be something that you missed while riding the perfect wave!
PS: You can listen to the song here: https://youtu.be/ad8ukI7Z-b8