Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Finding Your Flow-the Optimal State for Great Performance

In my pursuit of a qualification in life coaching, I picked up a useful book called "Mastering Coaching", on Amazon, by a "guru" in the life coaching space, Max Landsberg. Glancing at the cover of the book I felt a little intimidated. The sub-topics included mindfulness, neuroscience, positive psychology and experiential learning. You see, I've been wondering whether some learning in neuroscience and psychology would boost my coaching career. After all, wasn't coaching to do with fixing the mindset of the coachee. 
My fear was quickly dispelled in the book when Landsberg made it clear that firstly, the findings in neuroscience are not completely foolproof, and secondly, coaches did not have to use the findings in their work. Indeed, coaches sometimes apply the principles anyway without understanding them. 
Landsberg demonstrates the findings of neuroscience in simple-speak and helps the reader see their uses and applications in coaching. Being new to these space I found myself drinking up the new knowledge being provided to me through this book. And my insecurities about the use of neuroscience and psychology (I'm not even sure if those words are supposed to be interchangeable!) began to fade away. 
I particularly enjoyed Landsberg's synopsis of the Csikszentmihlyi's Flow state,  proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihlyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high). He was initially curious with the differing happiness in people who had much material wealth (generally not being very happy), and those who were absorbed with activities that brought little material wealth--such as artists, writers and composers. Mihaly (notice I'm using the easier name to spell) published his book called "Beyond Boredom and Anxiety: Experiencing Flow in Work and Play". 
Flow refers to the high emotional state that one is in when completely absorbed in an activity, so much so that time either stands still or rushes by to quickly. There is an internal ecstasy experienced during this moment. I've heard this phrase used by coaching guru Tony Robbins but never really understood what he was talking about. This book gives me a clue.  
Mihaly provides three suggested conditions that increase the likelihood of achieving flow, note the subtle caveat--increases the likelihood.  
1. A clear goal--knowing what exactly you will be achieving through the activity gives you focus and a proper measure of your progress;
2. Feedback--get clear and immidiate feedback regarding your performance. Each industry has its way of telling you your doing well and where you need to improve;
3. Skill v Challenge Balance--the challenge should not be too easy nor too hard, respecting your skill and competence. 
Understanding these prerequistes for achieving flow are very helpful both as a coach and coachee. Learning simple methods of getting yourself into the state required to execute a performance wee is invaluable. As a coach it provides a tool to helping your coaching achieve that state in their current situations, or changing their situations to discover their flow. 
If you're an aspiring coach, I recommend picking up Landsberg's book Mastering Coaching. I first thought that I wouldn't qualify for the book since I am not even a rookie coach.
But after just half-way through the book I am  convinced it is applicable for any level of coaching you may be in. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mastering Reading

It's cliche I know. 
But reading is so under-rated. Especially in today's social-media crazed world. Everywhere you turn people are staring at phones and tablets. Yes of course, they're reading. But really?
Recently I've rejuvenated my love for reading. I had to temporarily move out of my home country to revamp that habit. I hear of great people all the time who commit themselves to reading. Warren Buffet recommends a book a day. Tai Lopez reads a book a day. He gave a TED talk called "Why I read a Book a Day".
I don't know about speed reading but I'm willing to try it out. If you would like to do so to here's a useful resource that you may find useful. I'm going to try it out too. Imagine, if you could read a book a day, how much knowledge and wisdom could you fill you head with. 
I'd love to get to a place when I can read a book a day. But for now my reading goal is to read at least two books a month. 
Reading opens our minds to great ideas. It teaches us mistakes that have been made by others so we can avoid making them. Who was it that said "If I am able to see farther than others, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants." We all have dreams of better lives. Of better relationships. Better performance. No, we dream of great lives, relationships and performances. But we seem to not know what to do about getting to that place. 
Here's the thing. People have achieved those things. They created for themselves great lives. Or at least people out there, in history and at present, are have beat the odds we current face, and have reached the goals that we also have for ourselves. 
People face all kinds of problem, and wreck their brains thinking of ways to solve or fix them, but all you need to do is read. 
Want to be successful in a particular field of study or calling. Read up on it! The world is full of useful knowledge (and useless knowledge too but let's talk about that later). You need to get out there and read up.