In April I documented my reflections on injury (ski related), surprise surgery (eye and ski injury related) and resulting period of recovery and healing. The shock of it all killed my drive. Happily passion has returned, I’m on purpose and now adding the third ingredient, Flow (peak performance state). This last weekend, I was in Los Angeles taking Flow for Writers with Steven Kotler. Steven, for those unfamiliar with the name, is an award winning journalist and prolific writer penning nine books in ten years. And not just books that sit idly on your nightstand on standby. Two of them are co-authored with Peter Diamandis of the XPrize (Bold and Abundance) with another, Convergence, coming up. Steven’s The Rise of Superman, outlines the neuroscience of flow states, particularly the neurobiology and neurochemistry geeks like me love. Last Tango in Cyberspace is his most recent publication – a novel.
When I left Vancouver, my writing flame was pretty much flamed out. I returned ready to wade into a ton of material I have been gathering off of dialogues running in my head, podcast transcripts and interviews for at least the last four years. Writing has kept me sane yet writing a book is hard work. Decision Making for Dummies took a year of my life. By the time I was done, I had zero energy left for marketing. Both chapters written for The Intelligence of the Cosmos and From Hierarchy to High Performance were over 3500 and less than 7000 words so not that demanding unless you factor in producing a book in the case of the latter.
All of what needs to be said sits on the edge of a new phase and stage of awareness. More people are noticing the issues that confront humanity and civilization. Material published 3-4 years ago is now getting traction as if it were published yesterday. The same is true for Decision Making for Dummies because, let’s face it, decision-making hasn’t evolved much to adapt to complexity. If at all.
Being on purpose, not necessarily in a grandiose sense, more in the sense of holding a commitment to expressing what matters to you, serves to keep you on track when the chaotic moments hit. Without passion, your heart is not in the game. Heart energy is everything. It is the fuel that powers whether things get done or not. Whether what you are doing is aligned with who you are…. or not.
And then there is flow…
“Flow is defined as an optimal state of consciousness, a state where you feel youbest and perform your best. More specifically, the term refers to those moments of rapt attention and total absorption, when you get so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears. Action and awareness merge. Your sense of self vanishes. Your sense of time distorts (either, typically, speeds up; or, occasionally, slows down). And throughout, all aspects of performance, both mental and physical, go through the roof.” – Steven Kotler
Turns out stepping into a flow state takes a revamping of habits plus applying rigor to protect time in your schedule. What most people, especially sales managers and many athletes, do not know is that the neurochemical cocktail produced in peak performance states has a biological cost, so taking time out after to recover is critical. There is a formula for achieving peak performance states and for recovering from them.
Doing this work intentionally holds value for anyone who seeks to be in ‘the zone’ more often and who has experienced the low states afterward (and would rather avoid them).
Listen to this interview with Steven to learn more.
Contact me for speaking and workshopping on the leadership challenges of navigating the messy middle of personal/organizational transformation.