If I could have a penny for every time someone told me that, I would have an empire today. It happened again today. This time I was running, uphill. More like sprinting, I am wired that way — resistance can be used to good ends.
So there I was, running uphill, and a gentleman sitting on a comfy chair said from his porch, “you are going the wrong way,” he smiled when I passed him. My response was “you are right, I am.” I smiled back. Going with the flow is much easier. But being in flow is so much better. And I was in Flow, it was my alternate day circuit where I push toward the end of the six-miler — so I was warmed up and approaching the finish line.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the man with the unpronounceable name (for me), says about flow:
“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen.
[Flow is] a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.
[Flow lets people] achieve a joyous, self-forgetful involvement through concentration, which in turn is made possible by a discipline of the body.”
This is one of those occasions when doing the harder thing is easier in the long run. I am a long distance runner, it works for me. There are many others beyond athletic pursuits. Then again, one never knows, you could end up being chased or needing to catch the bus or a train in a hurry. Better be prepared.
I have a point with this story. Because the voice, that voice, is often that in our heads. We talk ourselves out of things before we are done. Often in the last mile (or less) to done. What happens then is we never learn what it’s like to finish. We tell ourselves that it was not worth it, it was much harder than anticipated and we can conserve our energies for something else.
My working theory is that maybe we do it because we are afraid of making it. We have become accustomed to trying to make sense of things, we are even alright with making do — fewer resources, more work, higher stress, etc. — if only we can push through with what we have. And yet, yet… when pushing through is going to make the difference between draft and final, we let ourselves off the hook.
Our mental habits are the strongest to change. They are part of our DNA, the warm and cozy place we go to when things are a bit out of the ordinary. We live in extraordinary times, we have so much at our disposal. Yet all the tools in the world cannot make up for a bit of commitment and a generous helping of joy. We can redeploy the energy we often use to spin our wheels to build new strengths.
I’ll be speaking about my journey at #dareconfUSA on May 19 and show a few techniques to help you learn how to:
- make space for learning by letting go of habits that aren’t serving you well
- ask for help and trust the learning process
- experiment to discover what works for you
Dareconf for the first time in the U.S. with a program that will energize, entertain, inspire, and instigate you to find your flow. People skills matter more than ever, we can shape our experiences and learn to help ourselves get past things that are not serving us well and into flow. Get your ticket here.
[image: the brain division may be wrong, flow is right]