How Flow Promotes Wellness
Dr. Camille Preston
As McKinsey & Company researchers report, when executives are in flow, they are five times as productive and up to seven times more creative. This means that flow is about more than feeling great—it’s also good for the bottom line.
Today, a growing number of top executives are recognizing the value of flow and exploring how they can increase flow across their workforce. Create More Flow (CMF) was developed to respond to the growing need for actionable strategies to increase flow in everything we do.
CMF is about creating deep focus that drives presence, connection and impact; being purposefully engaged in the work that really matters; and delivering marked progress on goals. CMF leverages advances in neuroscience and delivers tangible strategies to re-design how we operate so we can feel and perform at our best. In other words, it is a mindset, a skill set, and a way of being with proven strategies for optimizing peak performance. It is for anyone who wants to spend more time in the zone of peak performance—feeling great, doing great, and creating great. For companies who care about the well being of their employees, CMF offers the tools needed to dramatically improve productivity, build engagement, and deliver results that positively impact the bottom line.
Living in an Overwired World
Too often, we are living:
- Overwired: We are always on, always connected. We can feel “wired but tired.” We are tuned into everything, but focused on nothing.
- Distracted: We have more priorities than we have attention, time and energy.
- Exhausted: We have blurred work/life boundaries and this results in no real down time. We are working longer hours with fewer results.
- Disengaged: Although we are working longer hours, with more people, we feel more isolated, more dejected, and less effective.
Overwired we toggle from doing, doing, doing (with massive surges in cortisol and adrenaline) to completely done. Living overwired has significant consequences on our productivity and on our health. We are so tired trying to “do it all,” we don’t have the bandwidth, energy or attention to make changes. Living under the illusion that this is the only way to “get it all done,” too many of us are running on empty.
As a nation, we face unprecedented challenges with anxiety, depression and obesity. There was a 66% increase in the diagnosis of ADD in 2015. Many of these challenges are the result of “modern” online living where we lack rhythm, relationship and reality checks. The surging interest in mindfulness, meditation and yoga parallels our cultural shift away from boundaries, balance and being connected in our communities.
Although technology has transformed how we live, too often we fail to step back to re-think and re-design how we are operating. When we’re in flow, we prioritize these moments of reflection too. It’s a state of high cognition and high performance where we are present, intentionally focused, and highly productive.
Flow is about Working Smarter, Not Harder
CMF offers individual benefits to wellbeing—wellbeing of mind, body, spirit, emotions and relationships—but these benefits spill over and enhance collective enterprises of all kinds too.
- People who report the most flow are the happiest: Individuals who report the greatest amount of flow, also report being the happiest. These individuals intentionally design their lives for more flow. They are clear on outcomes (spend more time in flow) and do a better job managing their environment. In turn, they more easily cultivate a legacy of fulfillment.
- The cycle of flow cultivates a rhythm: Flow is not an on or off state. Rather, it takes place in five stages: preparation, purposeful struggle, release, flow and recovery. Flow hackers know how to manage priorities, organize time, and toggle their attention to move through the stages of flow to perform at their best. For example, stages 2 and 3 mirror the stages of a great workout. Individuals toggle intense focus associated with purposeful struggle (i.e., lifting weights) into release (i.e., taking time out to recover) by stepping back, shifting their focus, and recalibrating their energy.
- Flow begets flow: Flow is a self-reinforcing cycle. The more flow we experience, the more flow we are likely to experience. Said another way, if I can get into flow during a run, there is a higher likelihood that I will get into flow at work. And the more flow I experience at work, the greater likelihood that I will be able to shift away from work and be able to connect deeply with my family or perhaps have a great music jam with friends too.
- Presence or purposefully focusing one’s attention is connected to wellbeing: Focus on mindfulness (e.g., meditation) is a great way to reclaim one’s center in an overwired world.
About the Author
Dr. Camille Preston is the founder of Create More Flow, which accelerates business results by improving individual, team and organizational effectiveness and leadership capabilities from the inside out. A psychologist by training, Camille is masterful at recognizing underlying patterns that inhibit performance. She is a thought leader in virtual effectiveness, cracking the code for understanding how to leverage technology, how to rewire for results, and how to create collaborations with people you do not see face to face. Camille holds an undergraduate degree from Williams College and a doctorate from the University of Virginia.