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May 27, 2008

Flow

Filed under: Book Reviews, Random — Robert John Ed @ 2:06 pm

So I’ve gotten 1/3rd through Emotional Intelligence. It’s wonderful. This book is very dense and takes a bit to really derive points of relevance. Just yesterday it got to explaining flow, or the optimal state of neurological stimulation allowing for a person to really maximize their output.

Have you ever experienced that state of intellectual euphoria where ideas seem to cascade from your brain? It’s like a lush Niagara output. Most people experience this kind of thing every now and then and find it hard to replicate (I certainly do). An interesting point of this book (btw there are books dedicated to Flow as well…which I may partake in at some point) is that replicating the scenarios where every individual can find their flow is completely within our means; though it may not be an exact science and developing a point of perfection in heightening our output is unlikely, we can increase the characteristics which improve the state.

The idea is that we learn much more when in a state of flow, but we also must increasingly heighten what we learn to continually achieve that mental ideal. Flow can be described as a state where the mind is challenged the perfect amount. When we are not challenged enough (the subject matter is too easy or already understood) we become bored and uninspired; when the subject matter is overly difficult or beyond our means of comprehension we become overwhelmed and potentially harbor a negative outlook. So as we continually learn and challenge ourselves, the necessary level of challenge rises.

What’s so interesting about this is that we can affect the level at which we work and develop. Understanding the particular circumstances that engage and challenge yourself could be great indicators of your long term success. It also explains well why certain students and professionals thrive and others do not; the most likely scenario being that the environments set forth for the masses stimulate those that excel and likewise aren’t the correct kind of stimulation for those that do not. It could also be argued that those that excel train themselves to be intrigued and engage with the kind of academia presented in traditional education.

I’ll get into a more formal review of this book when I find the time to finish it.

(PS the picture is of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water…lovely.)

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2 Comments »

  1. Here’s a slightly different, but related sense of “flow.” I got a degree in Jazz. Many improvisers, like the great pianist Kenny Werner, or my old teacher, the drummer Jon Von Ohlen, would describe an effect or sensation called “the slot” or “the moment” where they and their bandmates arrived at a communal flow–where the music simply created itself–enabled by their learned muscle memory/technique, listening experience and openness to being in the moment.

    I agree that being in the flow is rare and does create a better mental state for learning. The reverse is a level of mastery in a particular subject which allows for performance (writing, singing, dancing, hitting golf balls, etc.) that flows as if to be effortless and perfect.

    Thanks for the illuminating post.

    Comment by Tim Brunelle — May 29, 2008 @ 6:48 am

  2. Tim,

    You bring up a great point here about what effect “flow” has on work. Is continually entering this state a catalyst for creating new and redefining moments in your career? I’d venture a yes. What about flow within teams and environments where cooperation is expected?

    I really need to finish this book and eventually look into a more comprehensive explanations as well as ways to continually induce those “slot” or “flow” moments.

    Cool stuff, and thanks for your input.

    Comment by Robert John Ed — May 29, 2008 @ 1:38 pm


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