The “Flow” State: What It Is And Why It’s The Key To Peak Performance At Work

 

Between hiring practices, mentoring strategies, remuneration packages and more, so much has been said and written about what it takes to facilitate employee motivation.

At some point, though, you realise that mastering the (often seemingly complex) art of motivating your people is less about you pushing them towards a given goal or objective, and more about helping them to unlock the latent reservoirs of self-motivation that are already present within each of them.

source

After all, as the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This, however, necessitates an understanding of the psychological state of “flow”, a mental state which researchers have called “the source code of intrinsic motivation.”

Even if you’ve never heard of it before, you’ve probably experienced it at least once over the course of your work life—that state of mind characterised by total absorption in the task at a hand; where everything and everyone ceases to matter (or exist, to you) except yourself and your work.

Numerous psychological studies have found that flow is integral—indeed, even indispensable—to peak performance across various fields of work. Here’s why.

P.S. Unlock the keys to peak performance in your people; sign up for SSA Academy’s WSQ course on fostering initiative and enterprise in your team!

 

 

What “Flow” Is

 

According to positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who pioneered the use of the word “flow” in relation to peak performance in the 1970s, “flow” refers to a psychological state of complete focus and utter absorption in an activity.

source

 

 

What Happens In “Flow”

 

Flow is what’s more colloquially known as being in the zone. In flow:

  • you lose sense of how much time has passed
  • you become unaware of the outside world
  • your actions and thoughts move seamlessly and effortlessly between one another.

source

When you’re in flow, everything clicks—your best work “flows” out of you as naturally and as unencumbered as a river flowing down a mountainside. It’s the same state of mind that athletes, musicians, writers, all experience, and it’s something that can be unlocked in everyone without exception.

What’s more, the flow state is also one of the rare few human experiences that are capable of producing 5 different performance-enhancing neurochemicals all at the same time. That’s what makes it a literally addictive state of mind. Once you’ve experienced it, you keep wanting more of it, so you keep working harder and smarter to enter flow again.

source

 

 

Flow & Intrinsic Motivation

 

Studies have found that flow is a critical element of intrinsic motivation. People who are intrinsically motivated naturally pursue excellence and peak performance as a consequence of the enjoyment they derive from their work.

Simply put, they strive for peak performance purely because they love the experience of flow and the sheer enjoyment that flow grants them; they don’t do it to gain external rewards or avoid punishment.

source

 

 

Flow & The Need For Constant Challenge

 

One of the most important conditions for flow is to have a balance between your perceived sill level and the perceived difficulty of the task at hand. According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is achieved in the stretch zone, where skill level and challenge are both high.

Here, the task is neither understimulating to the point of boredom, nor overburdening to the point of excessive stress; it’s just above our current skill level, which provides that extra push and focus needed to enter the flow state.

source

GET IN TOUCH WITH US

SSA Academy provides customized programmes and solutions to address your specific needs. Send us your inquiries and we'll get back to you shortly.

For Course Enquiries, call us at
Tel: +65 6842 2282

For Corporate Enquiries, call us at
Tel: +65 6632 9540

Our training centres:
PAYA LEBAR: 11 Eunos Road 8 #06-01 (Lobby A),
Lifelong Learning Institute, Singapore 408601
JURONG EAST: 135 Jurong Gateway Road #06-317,
Singapore 600135
MACPHERSON: 10 Arumugam Road #01-00 / #04-01
LTC Building A, Singapore 409957

Or email us at contact@ssagroup.com