Flow is a state of mind. It’s when you are fully immersed and engaged in a feeling of focus and involvement. You have probably heard people remark they felt in the flow or perhaps you yourself have had thoughts or feelings of being in the flow. It is an absorption into the moment and it feels really good. Maybe you are a person who struggles to get into a flow or perhaps you were once in the flow but find it hard to get back.
Leaders need to find the flow. Why? When you are in your flow, it is much easier to concentrate. Focus seems to come easier and things seem to work right. Remember, flow starts from the inside to the outside. What things help your internal focus? What things quiet your mind and allow you to enter into your flow? For some leaders, it might be to schedule some time to breathe. For me, I like to pull up iTunes or YouTube and play some music. Some days it’s jazz, other days rock, some days country, it doesn’t matter what it is just as long as it helps me adjust and re-enter my flow.
Horses are flight animals. Growing up on a horse farm in Kentucky gave me a unique perspective on these animals. Anything can spook a horse. Spooking them means something abrupt happens, they rear their heads and typically off they go in no particular direction. Anything, and I mean anything can cause this. It takes a trusted trainer or several minutes to pass before they get calm again. Some leaders are like this. An external event pops up and away they go! When an emergency breaks out, they have one of their own. They just don’t have a leadership flow. It’s more like riding the rapids than gently rowing a stream.
Get on top of your game, whatever your game is. Knowing your strengths really helps you get into and maintain your flow. Finding the balance of staying in your strong skill-set area and occasionally venturing outside your comfort zone for growth is a good way to look at it. Leaders who know their role and can articulate their game typically can easily slip into and outside of their flow. Why would you be outside your flow? Because no one can be “on” 24/7. In order to be good in your flow, you need rest and energy.
Get immersed. When you are doing what you do, totally immerse yourself in it. Keep distractions to a minimum. Throw yourself into it. When I am speaking, doing a workshop or working with a client, I am totally into the flow. The time flies by when I am working my craft because I am totally into what I am doing. Sometimes I am totally amazed at the things I do and say because I am so into it. When I step out of the flow to review what just happened, it is a totally different mindset and feeling than the one in the moment. Get into it!
You need energy. In order to achieve the kind of flow we are discussing here, it takes a tremendous amount of energy. It takes energy to be focused, immersed and to be the best. It takes energy to maintain your concentration. It takes energy to stay on a track and line of thinking. It takes physical energy to maintain the grind of daily activity and the pace of leading others. Working out and exercising helps your stay in the flow because it helps build up your energy reserves that are required.
Questions for you:
Have you ever been in the flow?
What did it feel like?
What sorts of things caused it or did you do it on purpose?
What things are you doing when you feel like you are in the flow?
A few steps away. I believe we are always just a few steps away from being in the flow. As a leader, you are always better in the flow than you are when you are out of the flow. Believe me, those around you think so too. What is prohibiting you from being in your leadership flow?