Flow: The Ultimate State of Creativity and Innovation

By Stephen Garber

As I write this, summer is almost over – at least in Florida for those of us with kids. The calendar says “dog days of August,” the thermometer says “hot,” and the presidential debates have not yet started. The Olympics are inspiring us with all kinds of excitement and stories about “team,” “leadership” and “commitment,” except for the disappointment and distraction of a spoiled, entitled and irresponsible 32-year-old swimmer who’s stealing the spotlight and insulting everyone’s intelligence.

In short, it’s life as we know it – exciting and entertaining, frustrating and challenging, and sometimes confusing and uncertain.

As we move back into our fourth quarter, after our summer, it’s a good time to reflect on where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there – while enjoying the journey.

Like many baby boomers, I was brought up on the work ethic, so much so that I even carry some slight guilt when I go on vacation. Have I worked hard enough? Can we really afford it? Do I deserve it? I have to use a lot of discipline to shut down, turn off, disconnect.

All those emails and responsibilities are screaming down that little electronic device at me. Even this column is being written as a last task, a bit over the line, into the vacation space.

I am using this moment to remind myself – and you – that the key to true success is often not how hard we work, nor is it how smart we are, and that luck plays only a random and usually small part in our success. What does work is connecting:

• To our thoughts – so we know what’s driving our behavior.

• To our feelings – so we know how we are “showing up” to and for others.

• To our bodies – they tell us a lot about what’s going on in our thoughts and feelings, and they call for attention when something is not right.

• To others – what they are really telling us about what is going on for them, their team, their part in our business or family or friends

• To the world – listening, observing, responding as much as possible in the moment, not based solely on our world view, which comes from the past.

The print on the wall in our vacation rental shows the definition of “relax”: to make less tense or rigid, to relieve from nervous stress, to seek rest or recreation, to cease working, to cast off anxiety.

When we do relax, we often hit a magical state of flow. When we are aware of and take care of ourselves, that’s when all the training and preparation pay off.

We just know and trust, our readiness, our abilities, ourselves. The ideas come with ease. They might not all be world-changing – but there is almost always a gold medal idea in there when we, as the song says, “relax and let it flow”.

I am off to the beach – to deepen my connection with my flow.

Steve Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or sgarber@thirdlevel.com.

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