You may have heard of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the pioneer of positive psychology best known for his discourse on “flow” as a means for characterizing and defining happiness. In moving our businesses and projects forward, I’ve found that it can be helpful to refresh ourselves on the core values behind “flow” and why it is relevant to our success. In a nutshell, “flow” is defined as the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Put another way, the key elements of “flow” may be interpreted as follows:
1. Clear challenge that fully engages your attention
2. You have the skills to meet that challenge
3. You get immediate feedback about how you are doing at each step
All too often we celebrate the big successes but fail to acknowledge and celebrate the positive feelings we experience when meeting and achieving small goals along the way. Take a moment to take the temperature of your “mental state” throughout the day. How much time do you spend in “flow”? Can you restructure your life and your mindset to spend more time in it? Note that experiences of worry and anxiety are indicators that the challenge level of the activity is too high. On the flip side, feelings of apathy and boredom are signs that the challenge is not high enough. As entrepreneurs, we want to strive for being in the perfect state of “flow” for as much time as possible, letting others to the things that fail to take us there.