What Is Flow?

At Flow Finders International we use the word ‘flow’ to refer to the state of a person fully immersed in what he or she is doing, with ‘energised focus’ and ‘full involvement’. And when these activities lead to extraordinary results. This becomes possible when you do what you are great at, while you know the rest are taken care of by other people and the systems you use.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the concept of flow as the ‘sense of effortless action’ people experience in ‘moments that stand out as the best in their lives’. He says that people who are often involved in flow activities can reclaim ‘ownership of their lives’. Such activities are challenging and require a high degree of skill and commitment, have clear goals and provide immediate feedback on success.

These are powerful thoughts, which can help you enjoy work so much that you don’t want to be doing anything else. This, Csikszentmihalyi says, is possible by investing ‘energy’ in activities that produce flow. He draws attention to specific factors accompanying an experience of flow, such as:

  • Goals are clear; feedback is direct and immediate; and the person feels part of something bigger than the self.
  • The activity is neither too easy nor too difficult and is intrinsically rewarding.
  • Concentration is required and distractions removed, while a sense of personal control is achieved.
  • The activity absorbs the person with the result that self-consciousness is lost, experience of time becomes subjective and awareness of bodily needs are forgotten.