Mastering The Flow State
It's a clear fact that we cannot live in a flow state every waking moment of our lives - that's one thing to clarify right at the start.
It should be our aim, however, to set up our days - even our professions - with a determination to get into flow on a regular basis but we should recognise the value of the different levels of flow - and even the value of periods out of flow.
If you missed the earlier posts on Discovering Flow and Hacking Flow, these provide a foundational understanding for what we're about to unpack in this post.
It's wonderful to plan times of sheer, exuberant fun but it is a weak individual who can only appreciate hedonistic activities and shuns their responsibility of tackling the necessary mundane.
My advice is that we quit stealing fire and start, instead, to generate it in a way that suits our nature.
Mastery comes when we relentlessly pursue our passions and practice methods that suit our core character types.
Paths to Flow
In order to master the Flow State it's essential that we understand our own, unique Pathway to Flow. Whilst there are many similarities to the essential aspects of the flow experience, we each have a preferred way to trigger that flow.
The clever folks at the Flow Genome Project have defined four ways to achieve flow: Social, Creative, Physical and Mystical.
The fabulous lesson we can glean from this model is that there are different paths people can use to get into Flow. Different people quite naturally gravitate towards particular ways because, being direct about it, different things turn them on.
Social Flow Path
Those who achieve transcendent states by connecting with others will opt for the Social pathway and seek out friends who seek the same. The scene is set by the gathering of souls - whatever the situation - any place where continual interaction is guaranteed. Add food, drink and music and the occasion will ignite and blaze for hours.
Creative Flow Path
To get their juices flowing, these guys just need a big white board and something to mark it. Whether creating an explosion of artistic expression, creating a technical solution design or forging new, mathematical equations, the creative flow types thrive in previously unexplored territory at the convergence of concepts and ideas no one had formerly brought together.
Physical Flow Path
This is where the snowboarders, skydivers, runners and gymnasts come in. A board, a mountain, a pitch or some apparatus in the gym triggers their particular kind of flow. They physically challenge themselves in situations that demand their total focus and highest level of skill - then they flip into the zone.... and time stands still.
Mystical Flow Path
Exploring inner worlds, these meditative folks just need somewhere to sit and turn inside. Rich, natural environments are favoured by some; others can get just as deep in a mud hut. They struggle past the chatter of the monkey-mind and find themselves transcending the limits of normal cognition - transforming their concept of what it means to be human as they explore a completely interconnected universe.
EXPANDING THE QUADRANTS
Whilst these quadrants are a very useful starter, from my explorations into Flow, I believe this model would benefit from some further distinctions which will lead us to identify two additional paths to flow.
Firstly, to classify into one box both the kind of creativity we see expressed on the artists canvas along with the analytical creativity we see on the mathematician's chalk board seems to require a significant generalisation. Whilst it's clear that insight and perception are required for both kinds of activity, it would be better, I feel, to separate the analytic from the expressive.
So let's keep the 'Creative' label for the expressive, artistic types and label the analytical types 'Intellectual'.
But there's still a type missing from this model, for there are some people whose greatest portion of time goes not to any of the aforementioned areas of activity but, instead, act as a leader over all. These people get into their own kind of flow when they are at the helm, directing the affairs of their team, their company or their movement. We could call this function Leadership or the Governmental.
If you're familiar with the TEAM ME model of six universal archetypes, you may now see a pattern emerging. Just as the TEAM ME model of archetypes emerged (notably) from the brilliant work of Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, which defined FOUR key archetypes, so here we find that a division into four 'ways' masks some important distinctions.
The match between the Six Paths to Flow we have identified and the Six Universal Archetypes is immediate and obvious. If you know your dominant archetypal character, your pathway to Flow will be easy to define.
So, here you have six paths to Flow. If you've identified your primary archetype (using the worksheet in your Introduction Pack) you'll already have a good idea of what will most easily get you in Flow.
Look out for Pad's upcoming video course and book 'Extreme Me - Unleashing the Power of the Flow State'
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.