The Flow Genome Project

Volume 3, Issue 7

At ARF’s Re:THINK 2013, Steven Kotler was the luncheon speaker on two days, the second time accompanied by his colleagues Jamie Wheal and Dave Stanton in the Flow Genome Project, which is aimed at helping us become a race of “supermen” through a scientific understanding of what Flow is and how to cultivate it — exactly the purpose of the Human Effectiveness Institute, and increasingly the interest of Daniel Goleman. Naturally I spoke with Steven and offered that the Institute would pitch in in any way.

He came to Flow through a near-death experience and I through stage performances beginning at age 4. He presented an excellent depiction of Flow with breathtaking pictures of mountain climbers, surfers and other types of Flow state performers well documented and obvious in their beingness in Flow. Surely people can realize that this is another state of consciousness, and will become interested through the efforts of many of us in attaining this state, now that they know we can all do it.

But do they believe it? Neither Steven nor I have proven yet that “ordinary people” can become superbeings. Nobody has. Elite military trainers will contend that they do this in a narrow but useful field, and this leads to the larger obvious point that Flow exhibits differently in different people. We all observe it most commonly in sports, which could explain a large part of why sports is such a dominant interest. We see it in great violinists and every other type of musician including those using natural instruments.

Creatives of all kinds including artists and scientists and improvisational performers experience Flow internally and it is only “seen” to a degree by others around them, who may largely misunderstand, distort and resist the content of the Aha! Vision if it is shared prematurely.

The average person when in Flow is unaware of it. It occurs during sex, and in loving communication among human beings all the time. This is the real proof that we can all get into Flow. As we let go into engaging with a loved one without any inner blocks, turned on and driven and focused by love we shift into a state of menschness and rise above every ignoble impulse. We do it out of love. This is ethical Flow, ethics being the instrument we are playing. It is one we can all play.

The Aha! Moment is in fact the one “gene” (component, method) that Steven and his colleagues shared. The Flow Genome Project leaders correctly state that the creative process leading up to and including the Aha! Moment — which is the natural creative process as manifested in humans — involves four stages:

Stage 1: Absorb the firehose of information about the challenge

Stage 2: Go away and have fun, forget all about the garbled mountain of info now doing things to itself in your subconscious

Stage 3: The Aha! Moment

Stage 4: Organize and communicate, carry through to real-world implementation validation success of the Aha! Vision

Outgoing ARF CEO Bob Barocci opened the third day’s session by reporting a conversation he had with Steven. I’ll relate that in the next post. Before I go however I want to say that Bob has done more for the ARF than anyone else. His predecessors were all giants in that field of applied communications psychology we call marketing, advertising and media research. Bob is a Renaissance Man.

His predecessor Jim Spaeth had opened up the ARF to whole new ways of thinking and Bob took that to a beautiful extreme inspiring a coalescence of researchers from across traditional, digital, and social, putting the ARF on a firm financial footing for perhaps the first time in its long history. Bob’s successor, the former Chief Research Officer at General Mills, Gayle Fuguitt inherits a solid base and forward momentum to guide in the directions she feels are best for the industry/scientific sub-community, and for society.

With Flow and authentic social motives on the agenda, the ARF can lead more than the research industry in the years ahead. There’s an Aha! Vision for you.

Best to all,


3 thoughts on “The Flow Genome Project

  1. Pingback: In Praise of Goofing Off | Bill Harvey Blog

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