“Change follows focus.” – Grilled Cheese Coaching Co. (seriously, we can’t find anywhere to credit this, so we’re claiming it!)
As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi observed in his ground-breaking book “Flow”, we are usually doing our best work when we experience moments of timelessness and an almost magical kind of focus. Whether it’s writing a presentation, coding a new algorithm, hitting the perfect note in a guitar solo, or beating our personal best in the 10k, we all experience these moments in our lives, and they are the times when we have found our way into our zone of genius, channeling our unique combination of skills and talents and unencumbered by the distractions of external noise or internal self-doubt. We are where we are meant to be, doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.
Flow shows us all how powerful focus can be. While in Flow however, that focus can be intense and momentary, lasting anything from a few seconds to a few hours (if we’re really in the zone!). There is another level of focus which is less intense, but in many ways even more powerful. By bringing attention to an aspect of your life and work over a sustained period of time – often days, weeks or even months, you are able to bring a new kind of awareness to your own habits and behaviors and / or the environment you’re in that can allow you to see patterns and trends that are not observable in any given moment. ‘Zooming out’ your focus in this way can be truly transformational, but it takes a very different kind of effort to Flow. Just like Flow however, it is something we’re all capable of achieving if we’re willing to make the commitment to ourselves over the longer term.
If Flow is the momentary expression of our genius, this broader, softer focus is the way in which we make the conditions for Flow more likely to occur in the future. It is how we can surface and make the deliberate choices and changes that we need to make in order to become the very best version of ourselves.
This week’s inquiry…
Where might change follow focus in your life?
We’ll leave it to Mihaly to explain the true power of Flow in this inspirational TED talk “Flow, the secret to happiness”
“You may be doing things very differently from other people, but for everyone in that flow channel, that area there, will be when you are doing what you really like to do.”
“Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi introduced the idea of Flow as an optimal state of being – one in which we are channeling our energy and creativity into delivering our best work.