FINDING YOUR FLOW TOOLKIT
FAITH IN THE PROCESS AND OUTCOME
Perhaps you can remember a performance moment where the anticipation of success (paying attention to the short or long-future) or the fear of failure (paying attention to the short or long-past) thwarted your capacity to stay in the moment and engage in the process—with full commitment.
You won’t find this principle in the psychological or sport science literature too often because by contrast to physical, mental, emotional, even philosophical practices, what sometimes gets in the way of truly engaging fully and completely is a spiritual issue—one of faith.
I remember clearly those early competitive years and the great desire to play my best—only to be confronted by the fear of failure or of judgment (from myself or others). This prompted a great learning, the principle that:
Faith and fear cannot exist in the same place at the same time.
To experience fear is to anticipate the ramifications of an outcome that has not yet happened. By contrast exercising faith is to fully commit and engage in the arena without guarantees—that any outcome is as it should be. Fear places you in the future (what if…), or the past (last time…), while faith invites you into the moment—even an egoless perspective—allowing you to let go of control and enter the unknown—knowing that all will be well.
While we have been exploring many tools and techniques to help you find more flow, when it’s all said and done, it’s interesting that one of the most difficult skills to exercise is that of letting go of everything external and outside of the moment.
Most of us don’t like this…
Instead we look for tools and techniques to obtain a competitive advantage—and well we should. Besides becoming more technically proficient and skilled (in the craft itself and the Finding Your Flow Tools), there is a time—and it’s right when you enter the Moment of Performance, where you close the hood of your Ferrari (i.e., stop analyzing and strategizing), fully engage the moment, and allow the performance to emerge—even to be judged by others and the world—without any consideration or attachment to it.
Remember what John Wooden said: “When there are just a few seconds left on the clock who should you give the ball to?
1. The person who is afraid to lose?
2. The person who is focused on winning?
3. The person who is focused is on the basket?
Consider the attention of each scenario. The first—past; the second
—future; the third—present.
So the next time you seek to tap into the moment and find your flow, consider what it means to let go, to allow your performance to be fully exposed, and to let the result unfold. As you exercise faith (over time), you will defeat fear (over time), and by letting go of the outcome, will invite the muse (as flow is often called) into the arena—releasing your most engaged and authentic self in every performance you choose.
From this place come the true personal victories—ones that do not rely on the outside world for validation or accolades. Instead, the greater gift will be yours—the one that comes when you are able to engage yourself fully and completely—knowing the joy of personal excellence that comes from giving yourself the gift of full engagement and authentic personal expression.
EXERCISE AND PRACTICE:
Before an important Moment of Performance this week ask yourself these questions:
- What will most likely happen if I focus too much on the past or the future while trying to execute my performance?
- Am I ready to engage fully and exercise faith in the outcome no matter what happens?
- How might I benefit by letting go of everything but the present moment? And am I ready to exercise faith?