There’s one common denominator among every great entrepreneur I’ve ever worked with: they know how to consistently achieve a “flow state” in their work.
Flow state, a term that was coined by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is defined as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Various studies have shown a correlation between flow and life satisfaction, enhanced performance and skill development, and general happiness. It’s no wonder why these entrepreneurs are some of the most alive, energized, and fulfilled people I’ve ever met.
According to Positive Psychology, there are 8 characteristics of flow:
“1. Complete concentration on the task;
2. Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;
3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down);
4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
5. Effortlessness and ease;
6. There is a balance between challenge and skills;
7. Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;
8. There is a feeling of control over the task”
Csíkszentmihályi sums up the importance of flow in our lives in one simple quote,
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Whether you sell handmade furniture online or create branding guidelines for startups, there must be an element of your work you find intrinsically motivating. A driver that pushes you on almost a spiritual level. Entrepreneurship is a long road littered with challenges; without being able to reach flow state in your endeavour, success will be difficult — if not outright impossible — to achieve.
But there’s an even bigger picture to flow state, one that leading organizations like Microsoft are beginning to key into.
“In the Work Reworked Report [conducted by Microsoft], the flow state has been found to be a key element in organisations with innovative workplace cultures – an environment in which it is easy to share and advance innovative ideas. Among large enterprises in the United Arab Emirates, productivity was higher in innovative companies (81 per cent) and employees were happier (80 per cent) than less innovative ones (62 per cent and 44 per cent respectively).”
“It is important to note the impact that this flow state has on the larger innovative ecosystem of a company. Employees who often engage in flow work proactively offer solutions for addressing challenges (55 per cent) and suggest more effective ways of working to their managers (76 per cent). A work environment that fosters great flow states will find this helps build and strengthen an innovative ecosystem.”
Flow state has the potential to transform careers, organizations, and even entire communities. Make sure to take note of the next time you experience flow, whether it’s while playing chess, reading a captivating book, or skiing — it could form the foundation for your next great entrepreneurial venture.