Every writer knows the situation they need to be in if they are to create their best pieces of writing – the setting in which they can remain focused on their writing.
Successful athletes operate in a similar way. Through years of training and experience, they have identified the state of mind they need to reach in order to produce the best results they can. They have learnt the art of bringing their most productive selves to the fore.
This is how former martial artist Rickson Gracie describes it: “I take my conscience off completely and enter into a zone of emptiness. My mind stops thinking and I start to live inside my instinct and my training. I do not think about a thing, nobody, I do not hear any noise. There’s just me and my opponent.”
These moments are what we call being in the zone or being in “flow”. You are immersed in a task, free from the distractions of the modern world, such as gadgets that are always demanding attention, endless to-do lists and persistent worry. The result is immeasurable creativity, peak productivity and complete satisfaction.
Being able to successfully get into the zone regularly is a privilege that should not be restricted primarily to writers and athletes.
It should be something that we all tap into when we are looking for ideas to take our businesses further.
There are aspiring entrepreneurs who are still waiting for an innovative business idea to come to them or wondering how to convert a thought into a viable business venture.
In the same way that writers get into their zone to get inspiration, aspiring entrepreneurs need to be dedicating their time to figuring out what their own version of being in the zone looks like.
If they could find this out, they would be able to optimize their productivity during key moments such as deciding which idea to pursue, how to launch, when to launch or how to prepare for the best pitch.
The creator of the psychological concept of being in flow is an author and researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. He stresses the importance of identifying the activities and environments that optimize an individual’s or organization’s ability to tap into their flow state – those moments when the ego falls away and your skills are used to the utmost.
In his books and TED talk on the topic, he quotes a number of successful CEOs who have used flow to achieve success.
Unfortunately, too few people are tapping into this gem for inspiration.
Steven Kotler, an author who has studied 150 years of research on flow, found that the average businessperson spends less than 5% of their work life in flow. But a study by management consulting firm McKinsey found that executives in the flow state were five times more productive than their peers.
One reason so few of us tap into this space is because we are so clogged up with the routine of everyday tasks. And our minds need a break if they are to operate at their best.
It is now December – the holiday season. A time when the opportunities to be in these moments of flow are in abundance.
This is because our minds are not as clogged up by the stresses and worries of every day at work. Instead, our minds are free to do best what they are naturally designed to do – outside all the noise.
For example, some of my most creative and insightful thoughts are in the moments before a new day begins.
During the holiday season, I have the time to jot them down before the day starts. This is why it is handy to carry around a notebook – you need to be ready when innovation strikes.
Meditation retreats are another tool I find effective for getting into a flow. Travel is another. It is amazing how many new ideas emerge when you get the chance to exist in a world that is unfamiliar to your own.
These are just a few situations that help me. Every individual is different. Whatever your flow state may be, find it, develop it and tap into it.
When writers get out of the zone, they are left feeling happy and satisfied. It is similar to waking up from the most optimal state of consciousness.
This feeling is good to have not just for the holidays, but for the continued prosperity of the businesses we will build and grow in 2021.