What is Flow?

Can you think of a time when you were completely engaged in the moment, where everything was in alignment (inside you and within your performance arena) and you were highly focused…?

Contrast this experience with another moment in time when you were not engaged, where nothing felt right, where distractions were everywhere (inside you and within your performance arena) where everything seemed misaligned and nothing seemed to be working…?

The first of these experiences describes a state of “flow”, the second, what we call “anti-flow”. Perhaps you can identify the “Principles at Play” (P@P) that influenced each of these experiences. What was present: focused attention, compelling challenges, meaning and purpose, etc…? What was absent: regular feedback, tools and resources, vision? Welcome to the study and practice of flow.

Flow in Brief:

Flow theory describes an experience of deep focus, engagement, and peak performance at the individual, interpersonal, team, organizational—even community level.

Flow is a universal experience that revels many of the core principles and practices that help people and organizations reach their full potential by focusing on what’s important now (WIN) and identifying what gets in the way of that focus or result.

Academic and professional books/journals often describe flow with nine elements in mind. Flow tends to emerge when:

  1. The activity that has clear goals and objectives;
  2. The activity provides unambiguous feedback;
  3. The individual feels a sense of control where awareness and actions merge together;
  4. The individual experiences limited distractions and high concentration power;
  5. People describe “effortless performance”;
  6. People experience an altered sense of time (fast or slow);
  7. There is a loss of ego, when one is completely absorbed in the effort;
  8. The activity is intrinsically motivating to the participant; and
  9. The activity provides a context where the individual’s perceived challenges and perceived skills meet.

Flow State graph

Recognizing the complexity of flow, focus, and peak performance, our research suggests that there are many additional principles and practices that help create and sustain flow within any Meaningful Life Arena (MLA). These principles and practices (about sixty of them) can be found within these twelve Dimensions:

Flow in Relation to Time:

  1. Long Future;
  2. Short Future;
  3. Short Past;
  4. Long Past.

Flow in Relation to Space:

  1. Immediate Environment;
  2. Extended Environment.

A Person or Persons Engaging themselves:

  1. Physically;
  2. Emotionally;
  3. Psychologically;
  4. Philosophically;
  5. Spiritually;
  6. With Focus/Flow at the center.

A more comprehensive model frames the many theoretical and practical elements that either contribute to or inhibit flow:

Flow chart of elements that either contribute to or inhibit flow

 Flow: A Practical Framework

We help people find their flow by helping them identify their WIN (What’s Important Now) in any Meaningful Life Arena (business, education, sport, etc…). Discovering this focus is the cornerstone of our work.

Our signature workshop: Finding Your Flow, was designed to help individuals within relationships, teams, organizations, and communities recognize both their internal and external Flow Assets and Flow Liabilities that help or hinder their quest for excellence. In addition to this foundational training, our consulting process, training academies, coaching services, offsite adventures, and other online resources, provide the needed methods, processes, and tools to help individuals at all levels advance their performance and leadership potential within any life arena.


Reading the  Finding Your Flow Book

Signing up for 60 Free Flow Tools

Learning about Finding Your Flow Workshops

If you would like to set up a consultation to better understand how Finding Your Flow and other IAHE services can help you and your organization/institution discover deeper levels of focus, please fill out the form below and we will set up a time to discuss your needs.