You know that feeling when you lose track of time doing something that absorbs all of your attention? Mihalyi Csikszenmihalyi (pronounced, as best as I can tell, Me-high Chick-sent-me-high) calls that feeling Flow. It’s what athletes sometimes call being in the zone. It happens when your skills and abilities are matched by the challenge of what you are doing, and as your abilities increase, that challenge increases, so you are always in that optimal place. Being in the flow zone can be lots of fun, and can sometimes make you miss lunch.
Often in LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshops people tell me that they had no idea so much time had gone by. That always makes me happy, because they were in flow most of the workshop.
Sometimes, people can’t tell they are in the flow zone until they fall out of the flow zone. If you are feeling frustrated, insecure, or aggravated, you are probably at the orange dot on the chart above, where the challenge is greater than your skills have developed yet. In LSP workshops, I’m there to help with technical support, getting LEGO® bricks to fit together in the right way to create what you want to make. With my experience I can help get you back into the flow zone. If you are feeling bored, you are at the purple dot, where your abilities are greater than the challenge. I can’t help so much here. It’s up to the individual to re-engage with the subject, to build something more challenging, or to build another model, or to find some way to make it more relevant.
It’s actually a good thing to go in and out of the flow zone. Situations are more memorable when they have emotional content. If you go in and out of feeling frustrated or bored, and also in and out of feeling present and happy, the project you are working on will be easier to remember. (I will talk more about memory and using models to help with it in a later post.)
What gets you in the flow zone? I’d love to hear from you!