WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- You’re coasting. You might be trying hard but you’re treading water and not really getting anywhere. This is why you always feel frustrated and like there’s something else you should be doing.
- If you don’t learn to understand flow, you’ll never do anything that changes your life or anyone else’s. 21 day fat loss transformations don’t even come close.
- There are 17 keys that open the door to possibilities you can’t even imagine right now.
“FLOW OR DIE”
Look at your daily life.
How much of it has become about checking out who has been doing what in their Instagram and Facebook life?
I get it and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing provided you actually USE the ability to peer into alternative ways of life to move forward.
But you’re not. I can say that with 99.9% certainty.
I recently decided that in the next 12 months, I will compete to win Guernsey’s Strongest Man, cycle across Australia in 14 days, complete the Marathon Des Sables and generate a 6 figure online income.
All three throw up things I just don’t know I can surpass and will need to hit a whole new level to move past.
Three very different challenges but all based on the findings of Steve Kotler who has written an intriguing book called The Rise of Superman.
In this book he details the 17 elements of finding your ‘Flow’ in life – the human state in which we surpass what we can consciously conceive of and up level everything about us to achieve things we and potentially others, have never done before.
I looked back at other crazy things I’ve done and the ones that brought out the best in me in a moment or over a period of preparation and getting it done, featured the vast majority if not all of these elements in some form.
It then followed that I need to serious up level all areas of my life if I’m going to experience that seriously addictive state of flow.
If you want to experience a new level in your life, look at what you have lined up and see how many of these ‘flow keys’ it requires, then you’ll get a good idea of whether it will really take you there or just be something else you half-heartedly start but never finish.
1) Intensely focused attention
Start choosing things that force you to be where you are and nowhere else.
If you don’t need to spend your preparation and training time well and truly focused on what you’re doing, it’s just not challenging enough.
Whether it’s food preparation, repetitions in the gym, technical improvements in running or any other practise, you need to be intensely focused on that and only that. Put the phone down and FOCUS.
2) Clear goals
Get across the desert without dying.
That’s a clear goal.
Lose some weight some time this year is not.
3) Immediate feedback
Required cadence, required speed to reach the destination in time, maintainable heart rate.
All things I’ll have to constantly be monitoring across the outback in Australia.
There is a time and a place for just going for a run to clear your head, but if you’re going to reach a personal state of up levelling, this should be a rare occurrence.
Monitor, assess, adjust, go again.
4) Challenge:Skill ratio
This is the down side of the social media exposure to the superheroes of this world.
We see the CrossFit royalty performing crazy stuff and want to do it.
On the face of it, that’s fine.
The problem comes when we try to get there too fast, not appreciating the hours and hours of training that have been performed for months or years with a background in gymnastics and lifting.
The challenge must be high but not so high that it overruns your skill level and you get frustrated or worse, hurt so badly you don’t want to go back.
5) High consequence
If non-completion of the challenge doesn’t have high consequence there is little incentive to train when you don’t feel like it, maintain effort and progress over weeks and months and get stuff done.
At the top end of consequence this would be the near death experiences of elite adventure athletes but find what works for you whether it’s saving face amongst your family and friends or making an uncomfortably large bet with a colleague.
6) Rich environment
Kotler tells us we need Novelty, Unpredictability and Complexity to reach a true state of flow.
Doing the same old runs and gym routines will never, ever take you to a state of flow.
When I cycled across America, we never knew what was coming day-to-day or where we would stay.
Wild horses would run across the road, the cross winds would hammer us in Kansas and flat tyres/snapped gear cables would come from nowhere.
It zoned us in!
This is why I employ trusted coaches for most things I do as they can keep things fresh and through experience know how to challenge you with a complexity that forces you to find a state of flow.
7) Deep embodiment
The more of your senses that are required to be employed in your challenge the better.
In the desert I know I’ll need to look out for snakes and ankle twisting rocks and feel what’s happening in and around my body in order to keep it safe and keep moving.
The more you have to tune in to yourself the closer you will get to flow.
8) Serious concentration
If you’ve ever done a maximal squat or pressed a heavy log over your head, you’ll know that you need to concentrate with everything you have.
You achieve moments of flow even if just for a few seconds.
Lose concentration and you fail the lift at best and get hurt in the worst case.
Fear is a good thing – it makes you concentrate!
9) Shared clear goals
There is a strong social element to true flow.
Even if you are completing the challenge yourself, find others who will come on the journey with you in some shape or form.
A coach, a friend, a training partner.
Choose these people WISELY and they will help push you to a level you may never have experienced.
10) Good communication
I love how Steve Kotler stresses the importance of the phrase “Yes and…”
It is a natural habit of negative people who never get anywhere to look at problems with a “Can’t do” attitude.
The key to up levelling is to snowball thought patterns to find new answers.
Even if someone says something you don’t agree with in deciding how to reach your unlevelled goal, reply with “Yes and we need to….” or “Yes and I’ll do…” and so on.
This helps your ‘team’ find answers rather than insurmountable obstacles!
11) Familiarity among team mates
I love this one.
Big challenges and effective coaching relationships/friendships are nothing without knowledge of each other and trust.
Familiarity also helps you to make faster decisions as you’re not second guessing a person with thought processes you’re not sure about.
Familiarity creates group think with speed and reactive ability not possible when you’re all acting as single, separate brains!
12) Equal participation/skill
This one is more applicable if you’re taking on a team challenge and without it can create frustration and dissent among the ranks!
The odds are you’ll all bring different things to the table whether it is actual physical skills or preparation but everyone should have a similar importance to reach a try level of flow.
If you can take one person out and not notice, you’re not unlevelled as much as possible!
I remember the night of my cage fight.
You get nervous, worry, wonder about the noise of the crowd and so on.
When you’re in the cage, you hear nothing.
I mean nothing.
You have a corner man who you don’t even notice until you get the 1 minute rest between rounds.
When the risk of injury/embarassment/failure/pain is high, you ‘get in the zone’.
Choose risk. It’s fun and it’s rewarding!
14) Sense of control
Whilst risk will push you into a place where you MUST flow, you need to sense that you can control things.
The pace of the bike.
The refuelling breaks in the desert.
The weight in the gym.
Whatever the challenge, you must feel you can control the various elements.
15) Close listening
I have always been notoriously bad at actually HEARING people when we’re making decisions about how to move forward in business, sport and anything else!
You might have to practise hard at leaving preconceptions about where you want a meeting about your challenge to go.
Listen and really hear what your coach and team mates/training partners think then remember…
16) Always say yes!
This is THE way to keep ideas and the flow…flowing!
Even if you disagree, say yes.
Saying no will shut down idea channels and can lead to problems becoming a lot harder to solve.
If you’re not reaching sticking points, you’re probably not fulfilling the other Keys in this article such as the Challenge:Skill ratio.
You challenge needs to allow for creativity if you’re going to uplevel.
Creativity allows us to do things we (and maybe other people) have never done before.
It allows us to see patterns in what we’re doing that we can use to grow further.
If you want to make lots of money and create a business that flows, recognising patterns in buyer behaviour and reactions to your marketing is critical.
Relishing and rewarding creativity is also important in taking risks that help you get past the inevitable stumbling blocks.
Not every challenge you take on will have all of these keys and they most certainly won’t always be obvious.
The secret is to assess every challenge you set yourself with this list in mind.
If the majority are present then the chances are you will find yourself hitting a state of flow more and more in your life.
This is what creates a fun, adventurous life whatever it is you have on your bucket list!
You don’t have to go jumping of cliffs with a parachute.
Invest in coaches that cost enough to make you utilise every second of their time and every task they give you to do.
Sign up for challenges you’re not sure you can complete.
Take a leap of faith in your own life.
You’ll be amazed what happens VERY soon after!
If you want to delve more into the psychology of ‘Flow’ check out The Rise of Superman…