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When do you work at your best? I know I provide my best performance when I can Focus on what I am doing.
Some of us know that focus as "being in the zone". No matter what our vocation is and no matter what we do to get there, once we are in the Zone, we usually create awesomeness.
A renowned scientist by the name of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this the state of "Flow". It is his Theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of Flow. It is a state of concentration with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.
I truly hope that we all witness that state at least once in our life. It is a case of true intrinsic motivation; a time when things like ego, money, time or even food stop existing and making sense. In the zone, the work we are doing engulfs us and gives us nutrition in the form of bliss.
The key, according to Csikszentmihaly's research is for the task to neither be simple nor too hard. In other words, it should be one that can hold our interest (we all suffer from boredom) and challenge us.
Clear goals, immediate feedback and a good balance between the challenge and the person's skill set (their ability to perform the task) are the three important factors that help people get in the flow.
A lot of research has been published that helps both an individual or a group utilize this theory. At the core of it though is the creation of an environment that allows us to focus and connect with what we are doing. The theory, in various avatars, is utilized in education, religion and spirituality, gamification, music and sports.
As leaders, it falls onto us to provide our teams with an environment that allows them to get into the flow. Only in the zone will greatness happen!