I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present to the staff at Melbourne’s Loyola College last week through my work with The Positivity Institute (www.thepositivityinstitute.com.au) on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's positive psychology construct, ‘flow’.
Flow is defined as ‘the optimal experience achieved when high challenge is met with high skill’, or in other words, when you’re 'in the zone’. If you’ve ever completed an interesting, enjoyable, and challenging task requiring all your concentration to the extent you lost all sense of time, you may well have experienced flow for yourself. Research denotes countless examples of flow experiences in music, sports, schools, and more recently workplaces.
Loyola College, like other progressive organisations, recognises the use of positive psychology techniques to help their people flourish. Flow has served as a theoretical cornerstone of positive psychology, and cultivating flow has been proven to be one of the primary ways to achieve enhanced engagement. Furthermore, research has shown flow and engagement to be a positive predictor of performance, innovation, AND wellbeing. Harvard Business Review described flow as an 'optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best': a seemingly winning combination for individuals and organisations alike.
There are a number of strategies that can be implemented at the individual and organisational levels to cultivate flow. Some examples include:
1. removing or minimising distractions (such as turning off phone alerts);
2. creating time and space to pursue interests and passions; and
3. setting short-term goals with clear and immediate feedback.
Google, amongst other best-practice organisations such as 3M and Atlassian have been highly successful in creating time and space for their employees to foster flow. These, and other organisations have enabled their employees to dedicate approximately 15% of their time to work on projects of their own choosing. One such innovative output was 'gmail' for Google.
If you or your organisation would like to understand more about ‘flow’ or other positive psychology topics to help you and your organisation flourish, we'd love to hear from you at www.thepositivityinstitute.com.au or www.thecareerguide.com.au