Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and ‘Flow’
Image adapted from: OliverBeatson / Wikimedia Commons.
Five things you can do to achieve flow
- Your skills need to be well-matched to the task. According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is most likely to occur when your skill level is perfectly aligned to the challenge that the activity presents. So a runner might experience flow during a marathon that he or she is well-prepared for, or a chess-player might reach this state during a game that presents the perfect challenge. In other words, gaining practice, experience and expertise in an activity will make it more likely that you will achieve flow in the future.
- In some cases, striving for something that challenges your existing skills can lead to a state of flow. A slight stretching of your skills, or attempting something that is a little more advanced than your current abilities, can also foster a flow state. For a dancer, this might involve attempting a move that presents a bit of a challenge. For a graphic designer, it might involve taking on a project that requires utilizing a new type of software. Focus on adding new challenges on a regular basis. Not only will you become more skilled, you may find that the state of flow becomes much easier to achieve.
- Avoid interruptions. It is important to devote all of your concentration to the task at hand. Multitasking and other distractions will disrupt the flow state. Set aside a time and space that will allow you to work on a project without being interrupted or distracted. Turn off your phone, television or other devices that might pull you away from the task at hand.
- It is essential to focus on the process and not the end state. While having a goal is important, flow requires enjoying the journey and not just fixating on the end product. Allow yourself to simply live in the present moment without worrying too much about the ultimate outcome of your efforts.
RefineAcross the course you have been developing your thoughts about what differentiation is.Using Csíkszentmihályi’s concept of flow, how might you refine those ideas? Or perhaps there are some ideas here which you had already included?Provide an update what differentiation means to you in the comments below.
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