How many times and in how many circumstances we’d wish to have a secret power of some kind that will immediately solve all of our problems and give us that instant satisfaction of not having to deal with whatever is in front of us. I guess the ultimate superpower would be a Samantha like finger snap and either what you wish for just pops into realty or vice-versa, what you do not want disappears into oblivion. Yeah, I just envisioned that for a sec’ and got drifted away on the amount of things I could do just snapping my fingers right and left! 😛
Back to reality! I am not going to get into the typical mind hack type of talk where I’ll tell you that everything you imagine is possible (it is actually, but takes focus, drive, hard work – things that you already know, have, done…). Let’s take things one step further and because I experienced this myself, I feel like I could have a relatively educated opinion about it and the curated TED talk billow perfectly articulates the mechanics behind it.
FLOW – What is being in a state of flow? How does it feel? Is it real?
Last year I had in front of me the greatest professional challenge of my life, writing and successfully defending my PhD thesis while respecting my self-imposed deadline of 3 years and not a day extra. 1st of March 2016 all I had was my plan and a 7 months deadline. To my supervisor this seemed like an impossible feat not because of my incapability to finish writing (or maybe he did thought that, haha) but because of all the external factors (review, jury validation, and a full list of other admin details that would most probably trigger a domino delay effect that would push my deadline at least 3 months).
What happened next was something even now I cannot say I can fully understand and I am not really sure I’ll be able to replicate soon enough to that extent. Trying though!
I’ve written my thesis in 1 month (obviously, I am not including the 2 years + of research before this phase) and at that time I could only describe it similar to a download. No, I didn’t have a bigger picture in my head of how things were supposed to look like, no I didn’t have a structure. I started from scratch and the process closely resembled to puzzle making to me. You have no freaking idea how the end puzzle is supposed to look like, where are the edges (doesn’t everybody start a puzzle with the edges?!), or even if all the pieces of the puzzle are in the box (most of the time they are NOT!, obviously, life is fun like that)! But hey, you gotta do watcha gotta do! And I started with one piece, the first piece and then I just let go of every aspect of the process. Not over controlling, not over thinking every aspect of it, not imagining apocalyptic scenarios every 5 minutes, I simply trusted the process and just immersed myself in a state of work and do not worry about the results of your work kind of mode. That allowed me to focus on what was in front of me. 1 month later I had the first draft in my hands and I couldn’t believe it made so much sense for someone without a freaking idea of how things would go.
But what intrigued me the most was the state I was throughout that period. I am not going to explain it because Steven Kotler in his TED Talk does it very well. But I felt it, I know it’s possible, it’s just there ready to be tapped in to. And when you do get into that zone where time expands and you feel detached and oblivious to the world around you, there they are – all the pieces of the puzzle are shifting in front of eyes into the right places. You see them clearly sliding into position and then you know what you have to do. You may think, yeah ok, but what about all the things that are not up to you, all the exterior factors that come into play. For me, that was the major shock. This state of release was reverberating throughout the entire process and everything aligned as it was supposed to without any major effort from my part. At least this is how I perceived it! From the outside, things seemed quite normal for my colleagues – I had no perception of time, long nights were the norm and obviously, things weren’t perfect at first try – totally acceptable for someone in my position! hahaha
Recollecting things now validates again how everything is a huge blur with the only sure thing I got from point A to point B but I cannot tell you every step that I took. I guess that is how being in the zone feel like.
Getting my possibly boring testimonial out of the way, I strongly hope we can all get aligned with our inner FLOW and achieve great things. And when I say great things, YOU decide what that means to you! Converge that focus towards your goal and do not look left and right for validation, acceptance, approval! I guess, in the end…this is one of those mind hack talks…but it’s up to you to find where your in the zone is.
Enjoy the talk and flow freely!