“of all secrets of the river, Siddhartha today only saw one: this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always and at all times the same and yet new in every moment!”
Herman Hesse could well have been describing the nature of “flow” as an apt metaphor for the river of life itself. Indeed, be it a pro-athlete completing a steeplechase event, a painter in deep concentration, a musician composing a new tune, or an entrepreneur whilst planning for further expansion –they all report the same sense of exhilaration, of deep enjoyment, fulfillment and of being so involved that the activity becomes spontaneous – in common parlance, referred to as being “in the zone”.
In our work as Facilitators, “Flow” assumes much significance for it is the one element that separates a “WOW” session from an “OK” one. Whilst in flow, a Facilitator finds that insightful anecdote spontaneously bursting forth and later, after the session realizes he never prepared or planned for it and yet how well it connected with the audience! Again, this same facilitator will automatically block out any tiredness, that nagging cough or cold which ofcourse, later returns with a vengeance in the immediate aftermath of the session!
The common elements in these experiences do not vary- One is so self-absorbed in the activity, that funnily enough the ‘self’ itself is absconding during that time, takes a convenient AWOL (absent without official leave) and then, in the immediate aftermath of the experience, ‘it’ just bounces from nowhere with a cheery “hi, you missed me?”. And somehow in this interim ‘loss-of-self-consciousness’ period, one has achieved great results, even a masterpiece.
Some navigational points that should be useful in this journey of ‘flow’ :-
Csikszentmihalyi also refers to three key elements that help create flow & meaning in one’s life -purpose, resolution and harmony.
a) A sense of higher goal & purpose –in the corporate context, we see many more organizations today co-creating a Vision statement or the “Bigger Picture” with their managers –the overall buy-in of the line and staff functions is extremely critical to keep the organization morale high, especially in challenging times.
b) Resolution – while one can keep in mind the larger picture, there has to be a demonstrated resolve and dedication to see it through to the end, else the higher goal statement will ring hollow and lack credibility
c) Harmony – An inner harmony of mind and body being integrated to a unified flow experience. This last element is probably the toughest to achieve and is dynamic in its very nature. When in harmony, the below words will find greater resonance with you.
“the river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future” –Herman Hesse
Do share your thoughts/stories on how “flow” impacts you and your organization?