Performance expert and coauthor of “Peak Performance: Elevate your Game, Avoid Burnout and Thrive with the New Science of Success,” Brad Stulberg explains how the psychological concept of “flow” can help you get in the zone at work. Following is a transcript of the video.
“Flow” is a term introduced in the early ’90s by a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. And the easiest way to describe “flow” is it’s being in the zone.
So, it’s when you are completely present with what you’re doing, and it’s like the outside world disappears. So, your perception of time might change, your perception of space might change, you’re just completely latched on to what you’re doing. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Although there’s no recipe for entering a “flow” state, there are a few things that can help elicit this beautiful feeling of being in the zone.
First and foremost is to try to pursue activities that are ever so slightly outside of your comfort level.
So, I like to think of it as if you have a skill set, and then a challenge. And you want the challenge to just be ever so slightly above the skill.
Let’s say that you have very high skill. Well, if the challenge is low, you might be bored or apathetic. If you have low skill, but the challenge is high, you’re going to be overwhelmed, maybe anxious, you won’t be able to do it. But if you have a high amount of skill for something, and the challenge is really high, that is a really important criteria for being able to get into the zone.
I think a second foundational element is just trying to be fully present and focused with what you’re doing. And, that helps if the challenge and the skills are both high because you almost have no choice but to be present.
So, to recap, it’s activities that put you ever so slightly outside of your comfort zone, but that you’re still quite skilled for, and a type of full focus and presence where you really bring your all to that activity.
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