Flow: a deeper dive

In a follow-on from her recent article on Flexibility vs. Flow, Global Women CEO Siobhan McKenna explores the meaning of flow further.

Flow experiences tend to be characterized by nine key elements

The first three of which have been identified as prerequisites for entering the flow state (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002

1: Clear goals (and hand-offs) at every stage of the activity

2: Clear and relatively immediate feedback on actions and progress

3: Perceived challenges, or opportunities for action, that require high levels of skill. That last element generally refers to activities with balanced, if high, levels of challenge and skill

4: A sense that one has control over the situation and no fear of failure, that is, a sense that one can deal with the situation because one knows how to respond to whatever happens next

5: Intense and focused concentration on the activity at hand, such that all of one’s thoughts, effort, and attention are directed at the current task, and distractions are totally excluded from consciousness

6: A merging of action and awareness, meaning that one’s involvement in an activity is so intense that the appropriate and constructive responses become spontaneous and automatic

7: The loss of reflective self-consciousness, such that all concern for the self disappears and the person perceives a sense of unity with the activity

8: A distorted sense of the passage of time

9: Autotelicity — the activity is done for its own sake or is intrinsically rewarding, such that the stated goal tends to be an excuse for engaging in the process

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