What thoughts and emotions come into your mind when you hear the words, purpose and thriving? Are they just words used to package goals and concepts, yet unattainable nowadays? For sceptics they may evoke the full palette of feelings relating to doubt, unrest, mistrust, judgement. So perhaps you think these are simply buzz words. Do you think this way? How do you see the world, and yourself in it, if scepticism, unrest and a struggle to achieve your goals in life are the prevailing norm?
Eight years ago, I became fascinated with the topic “effortless high performance” and the state of “flow”. I had experienced these states before only on rare occasions and felt deep within this is “where” I wanted to live my life. My attitude had generally been opportunistic and optimistic, and now a completely new world was opening up for me.
So, I started interviewing leaders on the topic of effortless high performance. It became the seed I was planting to dive deeper, and today is at the heart of my work, and my purpose, and will be for decades to come.
I did notice that the word “effortless” was troublesome for some, yet exciting for others. I also noticed that the emotional reaction to this word was attached to a certain belief system. At the same time, I observed that the state of “flow” was not really popular in the business world. I wondered why?
So, what does it mean to be an effortless high performer?
Kurt Right calls the state of effortless high performance as ‘being on a roll’. According to his research there is a set of four influencing factors found in the background of every effortless high performer or visionary leader he has studied and these are:
1) Feeling believed in
2) Being asked the right questions
3) Learning to fully trust themselves through trusting others, and
4) Developing their own validation framework
These four factors provide a preliminary definition of the ideal mentor-coach. Everyone Kurt has studied can identify exactly whom supplied this set of influences in their life. The consistency of this finding has led him to view the above set of influence factors as an appropriate and fully achievable definition of the ideal corporate culture as well.
What is the ‘state of flow’? Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s famous investigation of ‘optimal experience’ has revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total investment with life. According to Csikszentmihalyi this state can actually be controlled, and not just left to chance.
Flow is a state, which relates to optimal experience. “There is effortless attention, a sense of control, loss of self-awareness, and altered experience of time and enjoyment.” The question is how often can we tap into this state? And importantly, what are the internal conditions to tap into this state?
“When the information that keeps coming into awareness is congruent with goals, psychic energy flows effortlessly. There is no need to worry, no reason to question one’s adequacy. But whenever one does stop to think about oneself, the evidence is encouraging: You are doing all right. This positive feedback strengthens the self, and more attention is freed to deal with both the outer and the inner environment.”
A sceptic will think, it sounds great, BUT it’s unattainable and elusive. I have so many things to deal with in my life. It’s hard, or even impossible to get there.
An Opportunistic & Optimistic style of person will say ‘Hey, what can I do to live in this state? What conditions do I want to create in my life so that I tap into and sustain such an experience?’
Throughout long hours of self-reflection, cultivated personal experience, conversations and reading of relevant literature, I came to the realization that what I describe as the Thrive Space is where I want to be, and to inspire others to attain and sustain that experience. Being in the Thrive Space means you have the internal conditions to “flow” and be at your best.
I have a strong conviction that when we thrive, we are at our best, and thriving is manifested as a result of wholehearted commitment to the process of inner transformation in sync with your purpose.
Why inner transformation? Because throughout this process you create the inner conditions, the inner environment to thrive.
Why purpose? Because defining a meaningful purpose, beyond your small self, serves as a powerful generator of energy and creates inner order in times of chaos, uncertainty and hesitation.
According to Kurt Right’s research, ‘defining purpose’ is one of the key factors to being on a roll or performing effortlessly.
I learnt that when we live with a sense of purpose, we always find strength to draw from the deep well of abundant energy we all have. Purpose is at the core of commitment and fuels persistency of focused action, especially when life gets tough.
“Our purpose answers the question why we are here. As such it is a very different concept than a goal… Purpose is far more subtle than a goal. Purpose works very much like a radar beacon in an airplane. When we are on the intangible ‘beam’ of our purpose, life just sings. When we fall off this beam, our life ‘squawks’, typically in the form of ‘problems’. I see problems as having only one reason to show up in our life: to tell us we are out of alignment with our purpose. As a result, whenever a problem shows up in my life, I am far more intent on getting the ‘message’ than on solving the problem” says Right.
So, are you willing and curious to understand why purpose is at the core of individual, team and organisational thriving, and how to discover it and tap into it? Stay tuned in for more content or connect with me on www.thrivingleadership.net
Author: Elena Hinova