The Power of ‘Living’ In Flow
A lot of attention has been given to the concept of “flow” in the last few years. To me, flow is the euphoric synergy of insight, inspiration, creativity, skill acceleration, and sensory pleasure. Those in flow are able to output, create and broadcast on a whole different level from the average worker, creative or strategist.
For most, flow is an elusive apparition requiring us to work up it power through various and strange strategies. In the book, Stealing the Fire, momentary “flow states” are achieved through numerous external means: psychedelics, immersion chambers, starvation and sweat lodges, electric brain stimulation, and the like. I think that sounds painful and may even be illegal?
Flow allows us to enter a new level of creative consciousness, to soar beyond our natural abilities, and to connect to a deeper level of insight and clarity.
However, you can get there– get there.
Would you rather FIND flow states that last a few hours, or LIVE in a constant state of flow?
Or, better yet, would you like to become a “being of flow.”
It is possible, but it requires two things, and both of which are going to cost you a little bit of money. No, I’m not selling you anything nor is this a “bait and switch” for some seminar. It’s just that you must KNOW two things to live in flow. You can achieve moments of flow without it, but I promise to remain in it you’ll need the money allocation because you can’t figure it out yourself. I couldn’t either, so don’t think I’m some guru or sage. Here’s why you have to spend money to get there:
It takes knowing two things to LIVE in constant flow:
You need to Know Yourself and you need to Know Your (Vocational) Purpose.
1. You need to know Yourself.
I’m going to say something that sounds counter-intuitive.
You can’t know yourself to the level you need to remain in flow.
How can you? You can say, “I’m a feeler,” or “I’m didactic,” or “I’m an optimist.” But those are generalizations that fail to encapsulate all that fabricates “YOU.”
To know yourself you need a guide, a formula, but more than that, you need an OBJECTIVE FORMULA. Why? If you can control the conversation, you can influence the outcome. When you go the doctor with an illness, they don’t just “take your word for it.” They use objective diagnostic tools so that you can’t control nor influence their conclusions.
In the same manner, you also need diagnostic tools that you can’t control to get to the heart of who you are. Thankfully, they are out there; they just cost money. But it will be the very best two hundred to one thousand dollars you can spend throughout most of your life.
To start to know yourself you need to complete some sort of personality test.
Here are a few:
DO NOT JUST TAKE THE FREE TESTS! These aren’t novelties. They aren’t a fad. They are tools to take you through questions where you can’t determine the structure or path of the diagnosis. Your OBJECTIVE answers get to the heart of who you are.
Right now, your understanding of who you are is like a subway map of New York City, with lines and letters and colors going every which way. If you’ve never been to New York, you can attempt to figure out the cacophonic patterns but it’s often futile and overly frustrating. What you need is a YOU ARE HERE marker. Or in this case, it’s a WHO YOU ARE marker.
On the Meyers Briggs, I am an ENFP. The dangerous side of an ENFP is the ability to use and to manipulate others. I spent most of my twenties playing women and manipulating friends. When I discovered that I was an ENFP, and that was why I did what I did (but doesn’t excuse it), I also saw that the other side of the ENFP was the “inspirer.” I devoted my life to understanding my personality and morph from manipulation to inspiration and transformation to others. I “flow” in that all day.
The findings from these tests will also help you know how and why you act and interact with others. Why is this important?
Think about how much time you will save, and how much clearer your life can be by just knowing how to handle the situations that come at you.
Is a person condescending toward you? You now know how to act (and not react) so you don’t spend a day and a half sulking because of their misunderstood sarcasm or insult. That’s THIRTY-SIX hours you could have been in flow. This happens every day and every moment of our lives. Without knowing ourselves, we block flow like stones stacking up in a river, every time we react… to anything. Reaction is the enemy of flow. You need to learn to process and transform.
Those other techniques I referenced at the start of this article trick your brain and your body into getting into flow. What don’t you think about when in flow? All those other things that distract. Those other strategies are a bandage, not a cure.
Knowing who you are is the first step– to a two-prong approach. You need both to live in constant flow.
2. You need to know your (vocational) purpose.
Chances are you never discovered this in school. That’s because most educational models, well, suck. If you were like me, growing up in the eighties or nineties, high-school was like this: you had General/Mandatory classes and Electives. We all had to take biology and algebra and world history and the like. And usually, these courses were about rote memorization or full of essays that forced you to follow a rigid formula or you got a “C” on the essay at best.
Now, the electives were supposed to be your opportunity to soar and figure out who you were? Give me a break! Unless you wanted to be an auto mechanic, a welder, or a silkscreen or portrait artist (at least art was a little more fluid), those electives didn’t help you figure out your purpose at all. You were forced to go through Algebra II at least, and if you had a proclivity toward mathematics you may have gone through Calculus by the time you graduated. Good for you! Maybe you were called to be an accountant.
Have you ever watched Chopped? How many accountants, doctors, lawyers, biz executives gave it all up to become chefs? And what can you tell watching Chopped? These people are in flow when they cook! They take the pay cuts, the low end of the totem pole, and the attack from parents to walk in their purpose. To WORK in flow.
Now, here’s the reality, you can be just like those Chopped chefs as an accountant if being an accountant was your vocational purpose. Educational models don’t get that granular — or chose not to. Kids are herded into three main categories: workers, middle management, and executives. It’s a model that came out of the industrial revolution, and it hasn’t been modified much since then. And yet it’s called education?
You may be twenty-five, forty or sixty and never realize your vocational purpose. Eight-five percent of people are miserable at their workplaces. Eight-five percent! These are people that often are searching for moments of “flow” to ESCAPE their normal lives, rather than figuring out life and living in flow throughout the day.
So again, like the doctor’s visit, you need an objective guide to tell you what your vocational purpose is. And for that, I recommend the following: https://followyourcalling.com/
These (very tough) tests get to the make-up of you, based on your passions, your personality, your leadership styles, and your skills (including math and language). I went through this one myself, and ONLY recommend it because of the accuracy of the assessment. The conversation I had with my coach after completion went EXACTLY like this.”
“David, I was so looking forward to meeting with you because normally the average person has about 4–6 things they are at least 80% adapt at doing, and maybe 2–4 things they are 90% adept at doing. You have forty eighties and thirty nineties! You can do just about anything! (flow) But based on all the information that came back (personality, leadership, aptitude, spiritual giftings) We believe you are best suited for two things: Running a Creative Agency or writing Prophetic truth.”
I am the twenty year owner of a design agency and have written six books on Spiritual transcendence, inspiration and strategic business thought. I AM IN FLOW all day.
Now for the transformational revelation.
For many, these two diagnostic tools help to uncover your personality and your skillset proficiencies. They help you figure out what you are most capable of becoming and doing.
I don’t see it that way.
I see these tools through a different lens. And my lens says these diagnostic systems are bigger than just assessing who you are and what you can do.
These two objective tools help you discover WHY YOU ARE HERE.
I believe that you were designed by a Creator. Each of us is fashioned in an individualistic way. A friend of mine, in a coaching session, recently said, “YOU are an endangered species.” There is none like you, and none also called to accomplish what you are called to do, through a level of flow that can ONLY be realized by you. You were DESIGNED to remain in flow. These “momentarily flow states” are just a distraction from running in the lane YOU specifically were designed to run. Quoting Eric Liddle from Chariots of Fire, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” That pleasure, in big (sometimes) and small ways, is also part of flow.
We are ALL DESIGNED to be in flow, all the time. We live in a Matrix of Ego, Pain, Confusion, Religion, Advertising, Complacency — all crafted to stop flow. But you have to figure out who you are and what you are vocationally called to do to learn for yourself what your Creator already knows… and is waiting for you to discover.
I know people that went from top executive positions to running a small janitorial company. He now loves it, and loves his new life. Another man went from youth ministry to become one of the top alternative rock singers of the early to mid-2000s. They are both living in flow. They draw people to them like magnets. And that’s the point. Those in flow draw others who want flow.
You can starve yourself, take narcotics, enter immersion chambers or teepees for those quick moments of flow. Or you can live it all day long by knowing yourself and knowing your vocational purpose. If you do, I’d love to meet you when (and as) you get there: for, “Deep calls to deep like the roar of the waterfall.” Whoever said that was certainly in flow.
You can learn so much more about David W Litwin on his personal creative site at https://davidwlitwin.com