Monday, 24 November 2008

The Art of Mastery: Flow vs Resistance

On Sunday I used public transport to travel to the venue where Christopher Howard's "Ultimate Business Success Seminar" was being held. This was a superb event featuring several world-class speakers including Loral Langemeier, Keith Cunningham, Simon Coulson, Jeremy Hudson and Paul Avins.

However, back to my journey…

My journey involved several changes yet at no time did I have to wait any longer than a minute for a bus or train. Each time I got off a train I found myself directly opposite the exit I needed. I know some stations well enough that I can work out the best carriage to travel in for the quickest escape route. But this was all without any special effort on my part. For this journey, I was in flow.

Needless to say I arrived at my destination in record time. In addition, because of the effortless and pleasant nature of my journey, I felt quite relaxed and in an excellent frame of mind. It was a great way to start the day.

At times in our lives, we all experience flow where what we are doing seems effortless even though it may require great skill and be very challenging. However, for many, finding flow is a hit and miss affair rather than something creatively designed.

Instead, many feel enormous resistance when they are involved in certain activities. In some cases it's because they are doing the wrong activity. They are doing something that they are not good at doing, weren't meant to do and don't need to do.

For others it's because they are going about doing things the wrong way and as a result they create enormous friction, stress and discomfort in their lives. What's more, they persist in doing this particular activity in the same manner day after day. They feel miserable. They lose their joie de vivre and yet don't recognise that it's not the activity or even the people they're interacting with that need to change. It's themselves.

They need to learn how to adapt themselves to their environment rather than constantly battle against it.

"Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."
Bruce Lee

Too many people expend far too much energy doing things in the wrong way. If they took the time to learn how to do things in the right manner then they would find that these tasks become much easier. Yet, when you suggest and even demonstrate to some folk just how they could be doing things that would make their lives so much easier they say:

"It's too hard."

Finding your flow is not instantaneous. It requires an investment of time to discover the best way to achieve something and practice, practice, practice. It requires initially that you push yourself a lot but eventually you won't need to push yourself that hard at all until you decide to step up to another level because you will have achieved mastery.

"Ah, mastery...what a profoundly satisfying feeling when one finally gets on top of a new set of skills...and then sees the light under the new door those skills can open, even as another door is closing."
Gail Sheehy

And isn't the achievement of mastery what being in flow is really all about?

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