I had the great fortune to attend a great information session earlier this week that was put together by the Waikato/BOP section of the New Zealand Association for Training and Development (NZATD). The speaker was Nicky Benson who has previously worked for The Body Shop, the ANZ and National Bank merger and is presently completing some work with Comvita.
The focus of Nicky’s session was on building resilience in people for coping with and managing change – both in the workplace and in everyday life. One of the key areas that stood out to me from the presentation the major was the whole area around the concept of ‘flow’.
“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychologyconcept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.” (Source: Wikipedia.com)
The best way I can describe flow is the feeling that I get when I have a great run. The mind, body and soul are operating as one unit moving forwards together without struggling in any particular area but rather having full co-ordination. Mr Csikszentmihalyi has also created a chart whereby he plots different areas of peoples lives and provides a tool for measuring flow.
The graph works be having a person assess where they are currently at and then looking at the chart to see how far away as it were they are from achieving their flow state.
What caught my attention was how we get people to move from their present state into a different area of focus and energy thereby moving them closer to a flow state.
The key is to get people to make an effort in the opposite area that they are operating in at the present time. So if a person is operating in boredom, then we as managers and as workers, need to start with or delegate small tasks that will create arousal in ourselves and our people.
As far as I understand it is through the taking of small steps initially that longer term change is made and people operate more continuously in the more productive state which eventually leads to higher and longer periods of working in a flow state.
Before we can begin making improvements or increasing productivity and quality in our lives and our work we need to establish a baseline measurement. When we know where we are starting from we can then create actions to move forward and impove from that starting point. So in order for a person to achieve their flow state they must first know themselves and be honest about who they are.
I recommend reading the book “Flow” by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. It will challenge you and your thinking and may even assist you to increase your – health, wealth and life! Alternatively you could begin by watching this TED video -