Thursday, January 22, 2009

More On Finding Flow

It seems that people who write about flow find it most often in somewhat solitary pursuits -- writing, programming, running, or perhaps practicing an instrument. It's the time when your utter involvement in the task at hand is most noticeable, and I've personally experienced profound focus when engaged in all of these activities.

But I think it is also possible to find that state of flow in more social activities, too.

Take teaching, for example. I used to be a technical trainer -- it was the way I transitioned from a straight fundraising person to being a fundraising nerd. When you're running a class, sometimes you just really get on a roll. You are comfortable with the material (but not bored by it), you've got a class full of people who want to learn what you are there to teach them (or maybe not). You win over the skeptics, you get lots of questions that help everyone learn more than they would have otherwise, you're making great analogies, you see eyes light up and heads nod throughout your class room.

You're having social flow. It's a product of the same thing that makes you flow when you're by yourself:

- A certain mastery of the basics of the task at hand.
- An internal motivation to really bring it on.
- A feeling at the end that you've transcended just "okay" performance and really pushed yourself to get something great done.

Performers get this feeling all the time -- you're on stage and just hitting every note right. And training is certainly a lot like putting on a show. But you can also find social flow in meetings -- you just have to train yourself to recognize that it's happening. You can run a really great meeting where you're organized, you get decisions out of your colleagues, everyone has some good fellowshipping and that's flow. You can have a great social flow at a party -- everyone eats and drinks well, the conversations are awesome, people leave happier and more connected.

You've got to have your eyes open for it though. So next time you've got a day full of soul-sucking meetings, maybe if you look hard enough you'll find a little flow.

No comments: