‘Mindfulness’, ‘Be in the present’,’Just enjoy the moment’- You must have often heard these statements. You might know what that could mean or you might not know what that might not mean. But all those terms can be understood by practising flow. What is this flow?
Today I came across this word in a course on coursera.org. The first thought that came into my mind was a river. This thought was followed by another thought which is an everyday usage of the word used in daily conversations. When a person gives a lot of quick, witty replies then the person is said to be in a flow. I never put a thought into why the word flow was used there. I thought it was called flow because of the flow of words with which the person speaks. But I missed out on intricate details like the behaviour and state of mind of that the person when he was speaking. Next time, if you come across someone like this, notice his behaviour. You will find that the person is in a happy state of mind. He is not conscious of his actions. So just by describing the person, we got the definition of flow. According to the speaker of this course, this flow is what makes a person happy. And defines the success too.
This metric is incorporated by corporate organisations also to measure the happiness or success of their employees. I was working at such an organisation previously where they had this metric. I was asked to submit my self-appraisal and indicate where I stood in the flow chart. Since that was the first time I was working, I never cared to understand what the word could have meant. I just saw the chart and updated what could have been an ideal place to be, which could be ‘control’ or ‘flow’. I used to avoid using the word flow because I had to explain it in detail why I was in the flow. So I used to just get away by updating it as ‘control’.
Until today, I could never appreciate why it was used as a metric as I did not know how wonderful a metric it was. Have you heard of the 10,000- hour rule to become an expert in any domain you choose? When I first came across that in the book ‘Outliers’, I thought I just have to choose a domain and keep spending hours on it. And I was so wrong! You need 10,000 flow hours to become an expert. That said, it meant that one should be totally immersed in the task one is doing. In order to reach 10,000-hour flow, it again requires being in a high flow state and not low flow state(skill set is low and the challenge level is low). So in order to make some improvement in your chosen domain and to be in the best flow, you have to keep pushing yourself a little more than your existing skill set on a regular basis.
Now let’s relate this to the work done in the office. The organisation wanted to measure how well I was growing in my career. Since I did not understand the flow chart then, I didn’t really know today if I was growing at a good pace or not then. But from now on, I will apply this to my personal life.
When you are in a flow, you just live in the moment. As I am writing this, I am on my way to the office. I started writing it when I got into the cab and the travel time is for an hour. As I am about to finish this, I haven’t realised that I have almost reached my destination.
Every time when I go to catch-up with friends , all my friends show handsome guys as their new crushes but I won’t have anyone to show. Because I end up admiring guys who are not so good to look at. But I find them beautiful. Their inner beauty makes them look charming for me. As my friends don’t look at the same thing I look at, they consider my taste as bad. This inner beauty which radiates outwards is again the result of the number of flow hours they have been spending to acquire it. Enlightened people have a halo behind them to represent the radiance of inner beauty they have acquired by spending beyond 10,000 flow hours.
Now you must be wondering how you can reach that state. To know that, you need to first find what makes you happy. For that again, you need to experiment. I was in the same state as you are now. I wanted to create a website where I can guide students on how to prepare for an examination. But that was a hectic task with my current job. So I chose to do part time teaching in an institution to begin with. It makes me feel so happy when students find my class useful. I sometimes have to teach for 6 hours at a stretch. I have to be standing for most of the time. But I still don’t feel that I am standing for so long or teaching for so long. That is the power of being in flow. You can also experiment by doing something which you always dreamt of. You can start doing it as a part-time job and check out if you will actually like it.
You can also apply this to your current occupation. If work at your office is boring, think about how to make it interesting, or innovative. When I was given extremely boring work, I wanted to quit. I had an interesting offer from another organisation. I had two choices. Either to challenge the work in the current company or take the new interesting offer. I decided to stay back. I suggested changes to the existing process in my current company. There was a huge opposition from my teammates. But I still continued with the changes as it was for the better. I stopped chasing superiority and have been working for the satisfaction.
Practise the flow and write about your experiences in the comments section.
Happy flow time!