Have you ever been working on a project or task and found that things just flow, ideas, communication, progress and success?

It’s a place I would imagine we would all like to be especially if we are working for ourselves. In a paper I recently read Jesse Schell summarises the importance of this and elaborates on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow diagram and work.

The paper entitled “Get in over your head. Work to get your head above water. And do it over and over again” works on the idea of two types of growth that contribute to flow, these are “anxiety-driven growth” and “boredom-drive growth.” Milhaly recommends choosing “anxiety-driven growth” as this is where you grow as a person.

This thinking factors in a number of variables. The size of the challenge and the power of our skills in relation to those challenges. When our challenges exceed our skill we feel anxiety, when our skills exceed the challenge we will get bored.

Then when our skills and challenges are closely matched we find ourselves in the magical area where we feel little anxiety or little boredom. This area is the “flow channel” were we will be as productive and efficient as we can be.

But it’s suggested by Schell that “we must stretch ourselves a bit beyond our current comfort level…But not too much that we feel discomfort or disoriented.” The reason for this is to grow and to continue to develop our skills. If we become complacent we will become bored and perhaps stagnate. There is a limit to how far out of your comfort zone you should go, I suggest challenging yourself little and often but not too much that you bet your long term success on a project that is way above your current skillset.

“So avoid the temptation to master all the skills you need before taking on a challenge”

I hope you all find your flow in 2018!

*First Published in The Thetford and Brandon Times