Create Resilience in Your Business to Perform Better for Longer
I wanted to dedicate a number of my articles to help you perform at your best because self-motivation and creating situations where you can thrive is extremely important.
Too often our business owners and employees are stressed out, working far too many hours and not enjoying the family life they should because people today suffer from cognitive overload
We spend all day working, we have too much on, too many commitments, too many emails etcetera.
It seems we are on a never-ending treadmill to nowhere and all of this information and demands upon our time are overwhelming.
The problem is we are limited in what our conscious brain can handle.
It’s between five and nine things and when we get past this number this is when we experience cognitive overload
This Cognitive overload continues until the number of things we are dealing with in our conscious brain overwhelms us and we experience burn out.
But there is good news, the unconscious brain is not limited – it is boundless.
It is from the unconscious mind that we get a phenomenon known as Flow States
These Flow States are the most important thing in keeping cognitive overload at bay and increasing our ability to do innovation.
Now I wanted to state here before we carry on. Flow states are not a kooky quasi-spiritual state or term. They are a scientifically proven state of mind that occurs during tasks while certain conditions exist around that task.
The research was pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Don’t bother trying to say his name 🙂 )
Flow States happen when you are entirely immersed in a single task, performing a single thing without distractions like having your email open.
Somewhat unsurprisingly high-performance athletes that perform dangerous activities activate flow most easily. This is because they must concentrate solely on the task they have at hand otherwise they could seriously injure themselves or even die.
These flow states were identified in pioneering research done by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi but the reality is these states have been known about for thousands of years reaching back into ancient middle eastern practices where these states of mind are described in detail.
Modern-day colloquialism would say “In the Zone”.
We have 3 Mind States
To simplify the way in which we understand how our mind operates, mind states exist in three basic states.
1. Alpha: – Creativity and lateral thinking, Unconscious mind.
2. Beta: – Conscious thought, thinking
3. Gamma: – Only fires in alpha and is the problem-solving mind activity.
When you are in flow, your gamma mind state is in play where problem-solving activity occurs creatively.
It is in this mind state that people are able to solve the most complex and seemingly overwhelming problems.
For this reason, it is imperative that in order to perform at maximum capability during times of high stress that we do everything in our power to activate this Gamma state of mind.
To Activate Flow You Need:
Flow is not just something you stumble across if you want to make use of it as often as possible. You will need to create situations, opportunities, and environments that enable you to put together these three key ingredients together in activating flow.
1. Clear Goals
2. Immediate feedback
3. Challenge to skill ratios right.
Without clear goals you are just stumbling along hoping to get lucky and you are easily distracted.
One of the clear goals I set for myself with this blog was to complete a series at a time, not flick between series except to make a note when I thought of something useful. That way I retained my focus on the task I had at hand and completed it.
Immediate feedback gives you both the satisfaction of completing something correctly and the ability to correct any mistakes you make.
Programmers get immediate feedback when they compile their code (The code compiler tells them if they got something wrong).
Don’t work at one thing for many hours without setting up a method where you can get immediate feedback on items you are working on.
Think of any activity you are undertaking and try to find ways to get immediate feedback on what it is you are completing.
High-performance racing car drivers get feedback constantly on the performance of their car through electronic gauges and interfaces and you should strive to achieve this level of feedback also because it allows you to improve as you work.
Getting the challenge to skills ratio right is extremely important.
If it’s too easy for you, you will be bored and not able to activate flow. If it’s too hard you will be so overwhelmed by the task at hand that you will not be able to activate the creative problem-solving part of your brain required for flow to happen.
Take for example a Professional Snow Boarding champion. If they were on a beginners slope they would find it far too easy and be bored by it. But if they are in the halfpipe doing flips and spins they are right in their element activating flow.
But if you, as a beginner snowboarder jumped into that half pipe you would be so overwhelmed by the experience, trying to stay upright without hurting yourself that it would be impossible for you to activate flow.
This is also a good reason as to why we should not give our employees tasks that are too hard for them to do or too many tasks that are far too easy.
The Challenge to Skills Ratio
When you look to identify how to get into that flow zone you can draw a chart up like below and map out what you know is too hard, too easy or fits your abilities.
Here’s a great video from Mihaly TedX