Your great response to the “How to Feel Limitless” article has inspired me to share more on the topic. And this is just a small bite-size sample of what I learned from author Steven Kotler, of the Flow Genome Project, when he spoke to The Society 100. Hope you enjoy it.
You see, getting into this limitless state might prove challenging, so to help you out, in this post, I am going to give you the eight triggers that may make it much easier for you to get into Flow.
There are three categories of triggers. Each one is different in that each category calls on a different resource but similar in that they all inevitably bring you to the same place: a state of heightened attention and near world-class mastery and execution.
The first category corresponds to the Environmental Triggers, which includes high consequences, rich environment, and deep embodiment.
High Consequences means that the activity must be associated with risk. The risk can be based on anything, as long as it’s something that you care about. It may be a deadline, it may be the risk of public embarrassment, or the loss of something valuable. In most cases, all you need to do is be willing to fail, look foolish, or even fall flat on your face to enter Flow.
A Rich Environment means immersing yourself in an environment of unpredictability, complexity, and novelty. Doing so will bring about new challenges, forcing you to abandon old models, as they are no longer applicable to the new, current situation.
Deep Embodiment means total physical awareness of every single sensation in your body. While athletes might have an easier time using this trigger, you can train yourself to focus on the sensation in your fingertips as you type on your computer, or feel the hardness of the ground beneath your feet, the warm air passing through your nostrils or even the weight of your clothes on your body as you go through your day. And by doing so while you work, Flow will trigger much faster.
The next four items contain Psychological Triggers, including the internal conditions that can help you reach Flow, such as having a clear goal, receiving immediate feedback, and having a good challenge-to-skill ratio:
A Clear Goal is something that many entrepreneurs will agree is an important key to success. Without a clear goal to focus your attention towards, you run into the trap of confusing “activity” for “productivity”; and you will lose track of time working only to find that you never really accomplished anything.
Immediate Feedback is another shortcut to the present. It means understanding cause and effect in the moment, allowing you to know exactly what needs to change for you to do better. And by having this information, you’ll know exactly what to do next and will be able to fully focus on it.
The Challenge-to-Skill Ratio is probably the most well-known Flow trigger out there. If your skills are a lot higher than the tasks you need to accomplish, you’ll most likely get bored with it and stop paying attention. If, on the other hand, the task is too difficult, you’ll feel anxiety and quit. In both cases, you won’t be able to focus. To get into Flow, the task has to hit the emotional mid-point between boredom and anxiety. It has to be difficult enough to be challenging without knowing for sure what’s going to happen next.
The final Flow trigger is a big one and requires a little more explanation:
If you’ve read Robert Greene’s Mastery, you know that some of history’s biggest geniuses had major breakthroughs by combining seemingly unrelated areas of expertise together to solve a single problem. In some cases, this even led to the creation of brand-new fields of research and technology.
When we analyze creativity, what we often find is that it is nothing more than pattern recognition. Your brain will look at the information given and see how one pattern relates to another, linking old ideas and creating new ones all together. Scientists have a long, boring, and complicated explanation for this process but around these parts, we like to refer to it simply as Creativity . . .
Now that you know about the Flow Triggers, next time you want get in that state where time stops, attention is sharp, and everything that comes out of you is pure gold, trigger yourself and see what happens.
This is just a small bite-size sample of what we learned from author Steven Kotler, of the Flow Genome Project, when he spoke to The Society 100.
And after you’re in Flow, look back on the experience and backward engineer how you got there using these principles, and you’ll see how you were able to create a road map to productivity.