Back in the day, Sigmund Freud outlined three components to the human psyche – the Id (our primal impulse) the Ego (our sense of self) and the Super-Ego (the collective voice of society). Getting far enough away from the madding crowd to silence the Super-Ego has always been a prime driver of the adventurer – and the reward? Quiet. Inside and out. An experience that stands on its own merits – unpackaged, commoditized or mangled by armchair mountaineers or marketers. And maybe, just maybe, a chance for Original Nature (a Zen term for pure existence) to rise up in its place.
Our Flow State workshops and ‘retreats’ are an intense experience that leaves everyone who attends with a thirst for growth and personal development. Some find answers to some very important questions they are troubled with, whilst some leave with more questions, and an energy to find out the answers they had put on a mental ‘shelf’ to gather dust. Andrew, owner and MD of a multi-million international business he built from scratch, relates the experience in these words:
Thanks for a much needed and certainly a very insightful 1.5days. I really enjoyed trying to live those moments in the Now, blanking my ever curious mind from the onslaught of thoughts that are so pervasive in every waking minute of our lives. I felt that the time we spent together gave me a curiosity to learn more about this state of flow and how to harness it in my everyday life and work. Keep up the great work and there will definitely be a part 2 to this.
Andrew Mangion, MD EC Ltd
It is the adventurer that symbolises the possibility of hyper-performance. It is the person that decides, often for no apparent extrinsic reason, to try and do something ‘impossible’. It is these people that can, somehow, improve their performance by 1000% almost without any increase in technical competence. Andrew grew his business on a belief that compelled him to take risks, think big and get out of his comfort zone… frequently! This is typical for all top performers; yet everyone who attends such workshops leaves with something new. Something that re-triggers the wish to learn, explore, test new boundaries and find deeper meaning in the meaning of why we do things.
When I decided to attempt to run 27 marathons, back to back, in 27 countries to raise funds for charity, I wasn’t stretching the limits of what was known; I was attempting something unknown. Ranulph Feinnes and Mike Stroud managed 7 marathons in 7 continents in 7 days, and suffered greatly, marking a new line in the sand for human performance. It was the travelling, not the running, that made it such a feat. So what would going from 7 to 27 feel like? I was most curious.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychologist and researcher into what makes us happy, realised that there is a state of mind in which we are completely at peace, self-absorbed in our activity, where consequence does not exist and we are our true self. In this ‘place’ time perception changes, we lose a sense of our body, and our performance increases. In this state of mind, which he called ‘FLOW’, we are at our best, enjoying the moment, joyful of the effort and challenge, rather than it bearing down on us.
Steve Kotler, best selling author of The Rise of Superman, suggests that most of us are in a high state of performance, or ‘flow’, about 5% of the time. For one whole month on the 27 Challenge I was stepping in and out of flow on a regular basis. That is why I never felt like running a marathon a day as difficult. It is what it is, and I was enjoying being in that place. I have repeatedly achieved a flow state on many occasions, however almost always when pushing my limits, both outdoors and at my ‘desk’.
There is a problem with this, however – it is addictive. fMRI shows the brain activity in flow states being akin to being on drugs, including a flood of norepinephrine and dopamine. These both excite and give us a sense of wellbeing, but are also precursors to learning things very quickly. Once we experience this, we crave more. This is what runners call ‘high’ and what lures adventurers into new realms of possibility; a bigger wave to surf, a wider jump to achieve on a motocross bike, the steeper the climb. It is also seen in top CEO’s who, against the market forces, achieve remarkable results for their business.
Both Csikszentmihalyi and Kotler have dedicated their lives to find out how to trigger flow. The haven’t figured it out yet. There is no magic switch that we can flip. There is, however, a process we can follow. There are triggers (7 or 17 described respectively by these scientists) that lead to flow. The more of these we can line up, like planets in a row, the more wholesome the experience. We can achieve mini-flow states with a few triggers. We may experience this ourselves when we are engrossed in a pleasurable activity, or tough challenge; now we can attempt to get the full experience of hyper performance.
My flow workshops aim to trigger these variables in a way that we can get closer to experience Flow State. We learn, we practice, we experience and we reflect on a whole-day workshop that may very well change the way we perform. These workshops are intense and require discipline and dedication, but they will be a source of reflection like you’ve never felt. They will make you challenge your preconceived notion of performance. For more information, please get in touch.