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. 


  1. Powerful bro. The mind is truly an amazing gift. We all have a purpose or talent in life and when we are in tune with it, there's an absence of stress; we feel fulfilled. I recall Dr. Myles Munroe saying one time, "Birds were created to fly; flight was in-built to them. They don't feel stressed out when they fly." Each of us need to find our flow and "flow" in it. Cheers!!

    1. Indeed bro. I've been reading into these things and I've come to realise how small-minded most of us in Papua New Guinea are. Truly our world is really small, only just because we havent expended our horizons beyond out boarders.