I was filming sailing boats on the River Thames at the weekend (it’s my latest passion – as if I didn’t have enough already). It was a balmy day, with very little breeze – and I noticed that, as the boats sailed upstream, against the current, they were pretty much dead in the water.
But once they rounded the buoy at the end of the circuit and headed downstream – with the current behind them, and with what little wind there was filling their sails – they were flying.
It got me thinking about how business is also like that: when you’re going against the current, it’s hard work, and nothing seems to go right – but when you’re in flow, it’s like everything falls into place and becomes easier.
Because you’re following your path of least resistance.
Being In Flow
I read the excellent book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a few years ago – it gets very technical in places, but according to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is
“The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
He also talks about the exhilaration of achievement – when you’re in flow, you’re challenging yourself just the right amount. So it’s not about coasting – it’s about stepping up to a challenge, but not setting the bar so high that you’ll never reach it.
So if that’s the definition of being in Flow, how do you find your Flow?
- Know Your Strengths
To be successful, you need to work out what you’re good at. That might sound obvious – but it’s not always that easy to figure out. Sometimes, we’re SO good at doing something that we don’t even realise how good we are, or that other people find it difficult to do what we do.
Try asking your family and friends what it is that you do really well – it will probably be obvious to them. Often, your strengths aren’t something you would think to write on your CV. They’re not necessarily a “skill” as such – they’re more a way of being.
For example, my strengths lie in communicating and connecting with people, and in building relationships – so it’s hardly surprising that I speak five languages and am usually the last one to leave the room if there’s a good conversation going on!
- Know Yourself
Although I don’t advocate hiding behind labels based on personality typing, nevertheless, understanding your personality profile can help you to design your business around your personal needs.
Introverts (see Myers-Briggs definition) need to make sure we have plenty of alone time in between occasional bursts of social interaction – otherwise we run the risk of feeling overwhelmed and burning out.
If you have to be in client meetings all day, make sure you take a lunch break, so that you can have some time to yourself. It might be best to say you need to make some phone calls – people are more likely to understand that, than if you simply say “I VANT TO BE ALONE!”
- Know Your Preferences
When I worked for one of the leading psychometric test suppliers, I had the opportunity to complete their Motivation Questionnaire. The assessor was surprised by the results. “It appears that you don’t really mind what you do!” she said.
It’s true – as long as what I’m doing is fairly challenging and not repetitive, I’m happy to do almost anything! What’s more important to me is who I work with, and the environment – or how I work. On several occasions, when I ended up in a team I didn’t like or working for a manager who didn’t get me, I simply moved on to another job or role.
Focusing on the “who”, rather than the “what” is typical of a “Supporter” according to Roger Hamilton’s “Wealth Dynamics*” profiling tool. When I first started my business, I took the test to help me find my flow as an entrepreneur. I discovered that my Wealth Dynamics profile is “Supporter” – it’s what comes naturally to me. (P.S. I’ve recently found out that, although I’ve played the role of Supporter throughout my life, my true profile is Star…)
If you can’t stretch to the WD profile right now, Roger Hamilton has just brought out a free “Genius Test” – it doesn’t give you such a detailed picture as Wealth Dynamics, but it will help you to discover where your natural genius – and therefore your path of least resistance – lies.
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If you’d like some help to find your Flow, Contact The Quiet Entrepreneur’s Visibility Coach to arrange an initial conversation
About the author Julia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.