My annual summer vacation is a wonderful break. I get enough sleep (!), exercise (kayaking, swimming and hiking), and I tone up neglected mental muscles with reading, meditating, journaling, and daydreaming.
But it’s more than that.
Positive Psychology pioneer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi named the joy, creativity and meaning I experience “flow” . . .
- Our whole being is involved in an activity for its own sake.
- There’s effort involved, but it feels like play.
- We’re focused, absorbed, happy . . . and time flies.
Athletes say it’s being in “The Zone”.
No wonder we focus on flow in the Search Inside Yourself program.
Ready for a Reset?
More flow can nurture the reset we want and need amidst the persistent mayhem from COVID, a broken health care system, staffing shortages, mental health challenges, “quiet quitting,” war, inflation, climate worries, toxic political bickering, blah blah blah.
Boat-loads of research confirm that flow . . .
- Happens most often when we’re at work.
- Is a powerful coping tool, a protective factor against burnout symptoms, and a crucial work-related state that can boost emotional well-being during stressful and uncertain times (i.e. like now).
- Has positive, long-lasting effects on well-being and performance because it’s a natural high that comes from enjoying the process, not just the results, of our efforts.
It’s not Magic.
And no, flow isn’t some magical alternate reality we stumble into or only experience on holiday. Research gives us the essential prerequisites.
- Clearly defined goals (like hitting specific metrics or getting your 10,000 steps).
- Immediate feedback (like receiving a thank you or the satisfaction of checking something off your list).
- Being in the moment and in control (like being mindful enough to see the distracting ping! of incoming emails or self-criticism is blocking flow).
Um. Did you notice? All these things are within your control.
Which means, you can influence levels of flow for yourself and your team.
4 Ways for YOU to Flow into The Zone.
#1. Zero in on needed improvement. Flow experiences create an upward spiral of growth, learning and development.
#2. Establish a balance between skills and challenges. Flow happens when an individual’s skill level is neither overwhelmed (triggering anxiety or frustration) nor challenged enough (risking boredom).
#3. To foster intrinsic motivation and satisfaction, make sure the task is personally meaningful to you. What’s important to you about it? How will it benefit others?
#4. Give your team members autonomy over “how” they complete their duties. You already have a big job, why not let your team take ownership of their’s?
4 Ways for Your TEAM to Flow into The Zone.
Flow isn’t just an individual experience.
Think of your favourite sports teams.
When things are clicking? Yup. They’re in flow . . . in The Zone.
Imagine being connected to others and sharing flow? Yup again. Almost as good as chocolate.
Research tells us team flow is facilitated by . . .
#1. An organizational climate of psychological safety.
#2. A compassionate leadership style.
#3. Group goals.
#4. Team mindfulness and emotional intelligence.
A Model that Works.
Csikszentmihalyi put it this way: “In theory, any job could be changed so as to make it more enjoyable by following the prescriptions of the flow model.” I think so, too.
Being in The Zone in any given moment brings us more rewards.
We experience more meaning (whether at work or at play), and we’re happier, enjoying better relationships and making a positive difference for those around us.
Considering the whacky world we live in just now, has there ever been a better time to flow back into The Zone?
Especially for Leaders & Teams in Seniors Care.
Yup. Seniors Care staff who find working with residents deeply satisfying, are frequently in The Zone.
Flow is a positive experience that’s important to individuals, Seniors Care organizations, and the residents you serve.
These research-backed ideas can make a difference for you and the folks you lead.