Part 2: What FLOW is and Why it Matters

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How often do you experience any of the following? Agitation. Frustration. Short temper. Existential fatigue. Chronic disappointment. Distrust. Cynical. Skeptical. Doubtful. Hopeless. Dread. Resentful. Grudges, Anxiety, Worry, or Fear.

I’ll start with a story.

I was trying to fix a simple little issue under the hood. A quick remove and replace. But the part was partially obscured by another part. I could easily get half, so I was partially correct in my assessment of the job. It was the other half. It was the obscured part that hid all the other parts I had to remove, the necessary tool that I lacked, and the stubborn, rusted bolt which I couldn’t anticipate. This is precisely why some people hate working on cars. It is precisely why I own a 30 year old car. The “obscured” part is my teacher. Tinkering trains me for life, my sales career, parenting, and an integrated, spiritual existence.

This “un-coaching” tutorial has the architecture to reframe the dark, painful, and unpleasant experiences within our lives. Understanding and joining FLOW doesn’t eliminate such things, it trains us to see them for what they are. Most of us are taught to spend our energy fighting, avoiding, denying, diminishing, or over-writing all the “unpleasant” feelings of life. We must do something with them, because they so easily derail our life. So, how has that been working for you? Ready for a new strategy?

How do you understand “flow?” Most of us define flow as a heightened state of mental focus, such as a top athlete who is performing his or her skill. Or perhaps as a worker who is single minded and focused which allows him or her to accomplish far more than usual.

Let’s talk about what flow is NOT.

These examples are certainly describing a “state of flow.” However, if we define flow in this way, then it sets us on the wrong track. This limited definition treats flow as a temporary, binary state, in which we phase in and out. Like a light switch, flow is seen as on or off. Similar to a Ketosis diet, if your out of ketosis, your goal is to get back in. Carb avoidance becomes carb consciousness and then carb obsession. Flow as a state has the same effect.

This definition derails our humanity as it gets divided into those who flow and those who don’t or can’t. The subtext is that of winners and losers. In the field of personal performance and coaching, flow is buzzword of the elite, it’s the force behind those rising and maintain social, racial, religious, political and economic power. Flow, by this definition, gives us power over others and thus makes it desirable. Or we fail to obtain it and judge ourselves as a “have not.”

We must be careful that our desire for flow is NOT seeking to rise in power (even if it’s not power over others). Life coaches, therapists, pastors and teachers fall into this trap because they are trying to serve others by enabling them to accomplish more, focus on the right things, all in an effort to help clients “become more,” or accomplish life’s big goals. The worlds malware script is that if we DO more, we can BE more.

I’ve talked to many people who have approached life this way and it only works for those who got what they were seeking. For most people, it doesn’t produce the lasting change they hoped it would? We either become arrogant successes or flunkies, both of which harbor terrible underlying psychological and spiritual effects. The binary produces pride or self-hatred and both are disasters.

Let’s talk about what Flow IS.

Flow is not a state, it’s not a fixture. Many wisdom teachers have pointed out that flow is dynamism, movement, and energy. Like all energy, flow moves in a wave-form, thus to focus solely on one aspect (the upward part) of its wave-length is to miss the other half (the obscured part). Flow is the total macrocosm of all wave forms. Joining flow is the work of TRANSDUCING, converging, or integrating. Think of a radio which is receiving all wave-lengths at once, the dial is used to select the preferred one.

This is where un-coaching has become central to my work. If we deconstruct the deeper motivation, the pursuit of flow is ultimately ontological (being), but the path (bias/station tuned in) varies among us.

The wider definition of flow encompasses the down wavelength. It values the descent. It appreciates the pause of non-productive contemplation. It has a complete, not intermittent signal.

Back to the list at the top.

If your life doesn’t feel free or if you don’t experience fulfillment, then perhaps you are still running the win/lose malware script. You can wind your life so tight, bouncing between upward wavelengths that you can’t sit still and just “BE.” You can become so still, bouncing between downward wavelengths that you never “DO” anything. Knowing your BIAS gives you the lens you need to see where you really need to grow.

Understanding flow matters because YOU matter. Your life matters. What you do with your life matters. How you spend your time matters. How you navigate good and evil matters. How you respond to others matters. It all matters. There are no big or small decisions. How we do anything is how we do everything. Nothing is inconsequential. There is no such thing as non-meaning. The microcosm and the macrocosm both matter because they are one and the same. Our world needs people to regain our complete wavelength.

By now you should have taken your FLOW BIAS Quiz and you know your bias. If not TAKE QUIZ NOW .

The Barnacle

The Jellyfish

The Fish

The Dolphin

Don’t over analyze this. What is important is that you begin to realize that you can never be “out of Flow.” You have always been in flow, affected by flow and affecting flow. Your bias is only your temporary preferred way of relating to flow. We all relate to flow. Sometimes we have high levels of engagement, sometimes we are more passive.

Your work this week is to take some time to reflect on your life. Find some quiet time alone and see if you can see the spectrum of your own life wavelength?

  1. When have you felt most productive, satisfied, or most connected to your life?
  2. When have you felt least productive, satisfied, or connected to your life?
  3. What’s your sense of control over your life? What is your experience with freedom?
  4. Do you feel stuck, stagnated, or starved? Do feel like you are “missing out” on life?
  5. What inspires you more than anything?
  6. If you could give your life fully to that one thing, how would it make you and our world better?
  7. What is the one thing that keeps tripping you up?
  8. If you gave your life fully to that one thing, how would it hurt you and our world?

Next week we’ll continue the un-coaching (deconstruction) process. Until then, remember, your life is not too far gone. You are not too old or young or sick or addicted. You haven’t made too many mistakes. You are not trapped or derailed or hopeless. You are in, and have always been in flow. You have life. You have power and what you do with it matters to all of us.