Flow State — How Can I Know It Will Work for Me?

Volume 3, Issue 8

In the last episode about the recent ARF Re:THINK 2013 conference, I left off at the point where Bob Barocci was about to relate a conversation with Steven Kotler, a thinker and writer on Flow state (in other words, another “me” 😀 who was twice on the conference docket as luncheon speaker.

Bob’s question to Steven was framed by him first saying in effect that Flow was for athletes and Bob didn’t think it was for him. The question then was how could you test this and tell for sure if it makes a real difference in performance?

Steven said that the 4-stage Aha! Process could be disrupted, and the results measured. In other words, performance would be lowered, proving that Flow state can be blocked, and thus logically “proving” that it can also be fostered by not interfering with the natural process as companies might unknowingly be doing by current business practices e.g. people popping into one’s office. Bob appeared unswayed, so I sent him a copy of my book Mind Magic suggesting that he could tell if it worked using this questionnaire on himself after reading the book. So far no word back from Bob as to effects.

Having thought about the question of testing and validation of Flow for most of my life, starting long before I knew the word Flow in this context, I have some ideas as to how to actually do it. In one instance I presented to a client, a group of senior U.S. military officers in a strategic unit, the idea of two combat units currently performing at equal levels. A Flow induction intervention is applied to one but not the other.

Flow induction interventions that have been considered in the past across the planet (not all necessarily effective) can be specific forms of mental focus i.e. meditation concentration contemplation, books, blog posts, videos, podcasts, tweets, persuasive speakers, chemicals (the military has tested some of these for example), several other people acting but you think it’s a real situation you’re in, being put into a life- threatening simulation but you think it’s real, psychotronics, etc.    

Within a company, two teams performing equally well and doing similar jobs, perhaps in different geographies but similar work cultures, matched in as many other ways as possible, would be the way to test the efficacy of any purported Flow intervention.

Companies and every other working grouping of people owe it to themselves to test Flow induction by any means they are attracted to. In the next post, some “genes” of Flow that the Human Effectiveness Institute has discovered, and the nature of the Flow inductions we recommend and offer.

Best to all,


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