By Jamie Wheal
Basketball players being “in the zone.” Jazz musicians being “in the pocket.” Software programmers coding “in flow.”
What is this mysterious, anecdotal state of consciousness?
Originally researched by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the science of “flow” is now becoming mainstream. And it’s no longer anecdotal: researchers are beginning to quantify, even reverse engineer, the flow state. The implications of this emerging research could change the world.
A ten-year McKinsey study of CEO’s revealed that while in “flow,” business executives were literally 500% more productive.
Five hundred percent.
How would your life be different if you could be 500% more productive?
This is a bold question, and the Flow Genome Project is working to discover its bold answer. In his NYT best selling book Rise Of Superman, Flow Genome researcher Steven Kotler explored how action adventure athletes rely on “flow” during incredibly dangerous maneuvers.
— Voice & Exit (@VoiceAndExit) April 2, 2015
According to Kotler’s research, the context of life or death situations provides a perfect laboratory for studying flow. In high stress situations, the brain has no choice but to operate in this optimal state of consciousness.
On the extreme fringes of adventure sports, athletes involuntarily enter flow. They have no choice.
The only way to survive their death defying stunts is the elimination of any sensory distractions. In a neurobiological sense, everything slows down so the athlete is in a pure state of focus. During flow, the brain doesn’t accelerate—it actually decelerates.
This context provides answers to many of the scientific questions surrounding flow, but the greatest discovery is not an answer, but a new question:
Is it possible to choose flow? Is it possible to hack our consciousness and proactively initiate the flow state during less dangerous endeavors like art, programming, or writing?
Welcome to the neuroscience of ultimate human performance: flow.
At Voice & Exit 2015 in Austin, I’ll be sharing the latest research from the Flow Genome Project. From nitrous-huffing Harvard professors to billionaires going to Burning Man, to the Navy SEALs borrowing float-tanks from mad scientists, flow research is the wild west of neuroscience.
Steven Kotler’s 2014 talk introduced the idea of flow. At this year’s Voice & Exit festival, we’ll dive into the Biology of Bliss together during Seeds, and I’ll show you how to experience flow for yourself at the Friday night Mastermind event.