Growth – How to Accelerate It with Flow State

After Tony and I did a workshop for one of the largest Corporations in America, Tony was in the flow and wrote this powerful piece on how to obtain mastery in your business.

© 2015 Beast Mode Live
By Tony Bodoh

Growth – How to Accelerate It

I love working with entrepreneurs.  All of them have failed again and again. It’s like an exclusive club that many enter, but only the select few pass the initiation.  Some have big mistakes, some small. Maybe they acted too slow, or the moved too soon. Some lost their fortunes. Some lost their fortunes more than once.  But, those who reach, what seems to the uninitiated to be, overnight success have a history of constantly challenging what they are capable of, failing, learning, and going at it again.  It reminds me of the mountain climber who looked up at the Himalayas after his second failed attempt to reach the summit.  He stared down the mountain and said, “I will conquer you because you’re not getting any bigger, and I am.”  In essence, Beast Mode Live is about helping you realize that it’s not your business that needs to grow, its you.  Your business is merely a reflection of you. Your team is a reflection of you. The results in your life are a reflection of you.

In this lesson, you will learn:

  • What it takes for you to grow, no matter if your goals are personal or professional. You can improve your relationship or expand your business.
  • How successful people create an environment and follow a process that gets them into a state of growth.

The Flow State

Growth happens only when we reach the edge of what we know and we continue to go beyond.  The irony of the process of growth is that we are pulled to grow by something within.  But yet, we are scared to death of it. Being able to stand between these worlds takes mastery. And when we achieve that stance, we gain the confidence of knowing that we literally can do anything we put our mind to.

I want you to focus now.  Imagine a chart.  The vertical axis represents your productivity.  The higher you go, the more productive you are. The horizontal axis represents your emotional state. On the left is disengagement and boredom. In the middle is “the zone” where you are fully engaged (we will describe this more later) and on the right is overwhelm.

Growth - How to Accelerate it with flow

Now, on the chart you are imagining, see a line from left to right in the shape of a bell curve. It starts out in the lower left corner and progresses up to peak in the horizontal center of the chart and then it drops back down to the horizontal axis as it approaches the right side of the chart.  If you were reading this chart you would see that there is a connection between your emotional state and your productivity.  If you are bored, you are unproductive because you don’t care, what you are doing has little or no value to you.  If you are engaged “in the zone” you are at the peak of productivity.  If you are overwhelmed, you again become unproductive because you are stuck.

Psychologists have found that we are most productive when we are fully emotionally “in the zone” in what we are doing.  They have also discovered that just beyond the peak of the curve on the chart, where you start to feel mild stress, is the spot where you actually grow.  Everything leading up to the peak is something you know how to do.  As you approach the peak you are using the full extent of the skills you have in an area. But, you are not growing. You are just repeating what you already know.

If you are one of those people who love the idea of fast growth, you may be thinking, let’s just push ourselves across that line all the way off the chart.  Maybe that looks like 10x your current income in the next 12 months. Or, it may look like finding the spouse of your dreams in 6 months when you are not even dating now.  Is it possible? Yes! Is it likely? Not so much.

Look at the curve. The further you get away from the peak, the deeper you get into overwhelm and the less productive you become.  This is a common mistake for business owners who really want to grow and may even be desperate to grow.  On the other hand, you may be scared of growth and you stay to the left side of the chart but you are bored and again, unproductive.

The trick for consistent success is to move yourself just beyond the peak of your skills to the point where you realize your productivity is starting to decline. Then you stay focused and bring all you have to bear on the activity at hand. You go all in. You give it everything you’ve got.  This takes great energy and discipline, but it also gives you great energy.  You come alive during this process.

During this state, known as “flow”, you will lose awareness of the distractions. You will not be self-conscious. You will feel like you, your actions and your task have all become one and that you have control.  You lose the sense of time. Time can expand so you achieve far more or contract where hours evaporate like minutes.  It is a state that you may not even be aware of while you are in it but you can clearly see it if you pause for a moment and reflect back.

The magic of this state is that you are fully using every bit of your conscious awareness to focus on and achieve your objective. You cannot allow distractions because you will not be able to achieve the objective.

There are three critical steps to help you reach this state of Flow and to grow. These were discovered by the psychologist, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihali and the wording used here is from Wikipedia:

  1. One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. This adds direction and structure to the task.
  2. The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows them to adjust their performance to maintain the flow state.
  3. One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and their own perceived skills. One must have confidence in one’s ability to complete the task at hand.

So, to grow fast, you must take many little steps just beyond the peak of your highest skills in an area.  And, the more often you take these steps and master what is required in that step, you naturally accelerate the rate of growth.

Instead of focusing on multiplying your income by 10 can break it down to the smaller milestones and the associated tasks that you need to do to achieve it.  Maybe you need to perfect your sales pitch. Maybe you need to make one more sales call. Maybe you need to exercise every morning to have the health and energy to work longer and with more stable emotions throughout the day.  These are all steps you could take that may be just outside your current skill sets.

Successful people create an environment and the process they follow to grow.  Here is my version in 10 steps:

  1. Create a clear, specific, large vision that is highly charged with positive emotion and engages your senses
  2. Break down the vision into clear, specific milestones that you know you will have to accomplish along the way.
  3. Plan a step-by-step course of action of the things you can do that are just beyond your skill levels to achieve the first and only the first milestone. Successful people know from experience that plans can rapidly change, so planning too much or for milestones too far in the future can be a waste.
  4. Clarify and specify how you will measure your success or failure in ways that are as immediate and accurate as possible.
  5. Decide that you are victorious now, before you start and vividly visualize acting in a manner that leads to success.
  6. Quarantine all negative thoughts and emotions by scheduling an appointment with them at a specific time of the week. That is the only time negative thoughts and feelings are allowed in. Otherwise they are dismissed with a firm reminder that they have a scheduled appointment and they are not welcome until that time.  Part of this is done by also blocking time to do the tasks with complete focus, because distractions like the feeling that you need to check email, do the laundry, etc. are usually a result of negative subconscious emotions or beliefs that are holding you back from taking the step you can right now.
  7. Consistently start with a hypothesis of the outcome of your action and document it.
  8. Consistently act, and as my mentor Mary Morrissey says, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are right now.”
  9. Consistently welcome feedback and track results so you can see where you are and if progress is happening.
  10. Celebrate little successes and failures because both contribute to learning and as a result of learning you then make minor adjustments to tune in your actions to produce more effective results.

You can accomplish whatever you set your mind to if you practice these 10 steps in this order.  It creates an environment that will allow you to generate the flow state and be productive.

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