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Getting into Flow!

That Magical Feeling...

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the wonderful experience of finding yourself in ‘flow.’

There are those times when everything starts to flow.  You’re living in the moment.  Complete concentration.  Effortless – moving forward with grace, ease, and fluidity.  Your mind is clear and focused – supremely confident.  You are in flow.  Nothing can stop you.


Getting into a state of flow is like unlocking a hidden dimension of productivity and creativity. Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow refers to the immersive and optimal experience of being fully absorbed in an activity, to the point where time seems to stand still. To achieve flow, one must find a delicate balance between challenge and skill, entering a state where the task at hand is neither too difficult nor too easy. It is a state of heightened focus, where distractions fade away, and the individual becomes one with the task.

Take the example of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. Jobs was known for his intense focus and ability to immerse himself completely in his work. During the development of groundbreaking products, like the iPhone, Jobs would reportedly enter a state of deep concentration, blocking out all external stimuli. Similarly, athletes often experience flow during peak performance moments. Michael Jordan, the basketball legend, was known for entering a state of flow during crucial moments in games. His seemingly effortless and flawless execution on the court exemplified being in a state of flow.

Or, consider the experience of surgeon Atul Gawande, who wrote about the concept of flow in his book "Being Mortal." Gawande described how, during intricate surgical procedures, he would become so absorbed in the task that the outside world faded away. The surgical field became his entire universe, and his movements flowed seamlessly, driven by a combination of skill, focus, and passion.

In essence, the state of flow is a testament to the human capacity for focus, skill development, and the joy of being fully engaged in a meaningful activity. It is a state that many aspire to achieve, as it holds the promise of unlocking untapped potential and delivering a sense of fulfillment that transcends the ordinary.  I urge you to take some time this week – let yourself relax, and see if you can ease yourself into ‘flow.’  It’s a magical and wonderful place to be!

"It's All About Flow”

 Usually when we think about flow, we conjure up thoughts of what it must be like for an individual to be in that magical state of flow.  But have you ever considered whether or how organizations might be in flow?   Well, here’s a way to think about it: 


What does a murmuration of starlings and an organization have in common? Well, it turns out quite a lot! If you haven't seen a video of a huge flock of starlings dividing and coming back together, it's worth checking out - many describe it as a work of art.  With advances in technology, i.e., memory storage, processing speed, and artificial intelligence, today, it's possible to get almost real-time information about your organization. What this means is you don't have to wait overnight for the proverbial "batch to process." Decisions can be made instantaneously and enhanced with forecasting models predicting the consequences. That's if an organization is in flow.


Before we go too far, though, some of you may be saying, "Well, I run a small business, and I'm not like that huge swarm of birds." That's true; however, let's think of a flock of geese or a pair of majestic eagles flying. Watching the geese approach with the constant smooth transition between the leader and one of the geese back in the flock can be mesmerizing. And if it's just you and your partner in business, are things flowing as well as those two eagles that just seem to glide through the air?


What allows those birds to be 'in flow'? They have a common purpose and goal – heading south for the winter to ensure their survival. They have many similar characteristics – you don't see a flamingo flying with the geese. And yet while many organizations have a purpose, mission, and vision – they still can't seem to get off the ground – let’s take a look at some possible reasons why.


Over the years, we have been very good at building structure into our organizations. Take a look at your organizational chart – the majority of them look like upside-down trees in silos (departments/functions). Your job descriptions hold people in a box, and when was the last time you really analyzed your performance and metric management systems – they are often some of the worst offenders. Because we 'built' them in a day when stability was prized and expected. In today's world, that is not the case. Most CFOs are not bothering to project out over a year because, before year-end, something will inevitably happen to totally upend their numbers.


At the same time, many organizations don't have a good sense of their 'system' or the processes embedded within that system. Why does that matter? If we don't understand the interdependencies and drivers within the system, we're basically guessing when it comes to making decisions to improve the system. The use of a flowchart helps bring a process to life and allows everyone to see the flow or where it's not flowing. And when we only think in terms of what we do as an activity, we lose sight of the process and flow. Engaging everyone (and sometimes those outside of the system) to help improve processes is a best practice. Batesville Casket, on a regular basis, would bring not just the production people together but Accounting, HR, and all the various Industrial and Mechanical engineers to brainstorm and develop the best solution for optimal flow of a production process.


Many of us may feel uncomfortable stepping out of our boxes, but in today's world, it's not just a ‘suggestion’ but a ‘requirement’ if we're going to stay in business in this ever-changing world. It's not easy to do all this, but it's required if we are to achieve lift off and fly like the birds. If you haven't created a map of how the major elements in your organization work together or flowcharted some of the main processes – give it a shot. It will be well worth your effort.

Getting into Flow – A Practical Guide

So, you’d like to get into flow?  Who really wouldn’t?  Well, unfortunately, it’s not always easy to achieve – but here are some practical insights you might be able to decipher that will help you in your efforts.

Let’s start with Serena Williams.  Williams has spoken about the importance of routines and rituals to help her enter the zone. Before each match, she engages in a specific warm-up routine that not only prepares her body but also primes her mind for the challenges ahead. This ritualistic approach helps establish a mental cue, signaling to her brain that it's time to focus and immerse herself fully in the game.

Similarly, the G.O.A.T., Tom Brady, attributes his success to mental preparation. Brady is known for his meticulous study of the game, visualizing plays, and mentally rehearsing different scenarios. This mental imagery helps him stay calm under pressure and enhances his ability to make split-second decisions during a game. For Brady, the mental aspect is just as crucial as the physical, and he leverages his physiology by incorporating mindfulness techniques to stay present in the moment.

For those of us outside the realm of professional sports, like most all of us, incorporating these principles into daily life can enhance our ability to achieve flow. Establishing a routine, whether it's a morning ritual or a pre-work routine, can signal to your brain that it's time to focus. Engaging in mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing, can help quiet the mind and create the mental space necessary for flow to occur.

Another practical tip comes from the world of music and the guitarist Carlos Santana. Santana emphasizes the importance of passion and connecting with the heart to achieve a state of flow. Translating this to everyday life, finding genuine interest and passion in what you're doing can make the task more enjoyable and increase the likelihood of entering a flow state. When you love what you do, the challenges become opportunities for growth rather than obstacles.

Ultimately, the path to flow is as individual as the person seeking it.  But, by learning from the experiences of those who have mastered the art of focus, you can unlock your potential to achieve a state of flow in various aspects of your life.  And, when you do, you also turn an incredible energy source that will allow you to achieve success far beyond your dreams.

Positive Profile of the Week:  Bailey Zappe - Getting into Flow!

This week we are delighted to highlight an athlete who seems to be finding a state of flow – New England Patriots quarterback - Bailey Zappe. 

Coming into a tough spot this past week, replacing previous starter Mac Jones, Zappe led the Patriots to an impressive victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And, in so doing, Zappe seemed to be executing with an effortless grace – showing maturity and poise beyond his relatively young age (24) and his extremely limited professional experience.

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and make any predictions about his future, but it was certainly fun – and quite gratifying – to see a young quarterback find his stride.  And, if you have an opportunity to watch some of the highlights from his recent performance – which by the way you can do by clicking right here:, you’ll definitely be watching an athlete in flow. 

Zappe's recent success reflects his increasing confidence and mastery of the Patriots' offensive strategy.  He has not only demonstrated exceptional skills on the field but has also emerged as a leader and a diligent student of the game.

Beyond statistics, Zappe brings an intangible quality to the team – a contagious energy and leadership that fosters unity and purpose. His measured confidence, born out of a deep understanding of the game, has become a guiding force for the Patriots, especially in shaping the direction of a young team.

Zappe's journey with the Patriots continues this week as the Kansas City Chiefs will be arriving in Foxboro for a game on Sunday afternoon.  And, of course, we will be rooting for this young man to once again get into flow – and execute with a confidence and grace – ultimately leading to success!   Good luck, Bailey Zappe!

Quotes of the Week:  Getting into Flow!

"Flow is the secret to unlocking creativity and achieving unparalleled productivity. It's the elixir that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary."

·         Tony Robbins


"Flow is the state where you lose yourself in the moment, and everything else disappears. It's the magic that happens when passion and skill collide, creating a symphony of effortless productivity."

·         Steven Kotler


"In the midst of flow, time stands still, and the world fades away. It's a magical dance where your soul and the task at hand become one."

·         Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


"When you find yourself in the flow, there's an enchanting rhythm to life. It's a dance where your efforts become a melody, and the universe applauds your every move."

·         Deepak Chopra


"Flow is not just about being in the zone; it's about tapping into the cosmic energy that propels you forward. It's a positive force that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary."

·         Oprah Winfrey


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