The 4% Rule to get in Flow & 13 Triggers to get into Flow State

Inspired By  Vishen Lakhiani, Steven Kotler
3 mins
The 4% Rule to get in Flow & 13 Triggers to get into Flow State - Simply One Question - One Q

Quick Summary

“Flow describes these moments of total absorption, when we become so focused on the task at hand that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Time flies. Self vanishes. All aspects of performance —mental and physical — go through the roof.”

Mmmm yes please! Here is some great info that I received from Vishen Lakhiani, sharing insights about Steven Kotler who popularised the study of ‘flow.’

I've just pulled out some great quotes and also several ways, according to Steven, to put yourself in a state of flow. These are from Steven's book - Bold. Some of Steven's other books are Rise of Superman, Stealing Fire and Abundance.

Here’s how Steven describes 'flow' in his book, Bold.

Flow describes these moments of total absorption, when we become so focused on the task at hand that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Time flies. Self vanishes. All aspects of performance —mental and physical — go through the roof.”

In Rise of Superman, Kotler wrote this line:

To really achieve anything, you have to be able to tolerate and enjoy risk. It has to become a challenge to look forward to. In all fields, to make exceptional discoveries you need risk—you’re just never going to have a breakthrough without it.”

Kotler says...

“Flow appears near the emotional midpoint between boredom and anxiety, in what scientists call the flow channel— the spot where the task is hard enough to make us stretch but not hard enough to make us snap. How hard is that? Answers vary, but the general thinking is about 4 percent. That’s it. That’s the sweet spot. If you want to trigger flow, the challenge should be 4 percent greater than the skills.”

13 triggers to induce states of flow according to Steven in his book Bold

I) Environmental Triggers

  • 1. High Consequence
    Put yourself at risk of failing. This is not restricted to just physical risks either. Emotional, intellectual, creative, and social risks work just as well.
  • 2. Rich Environment
    Create an environment where you’re surrounded by a lot of novelty, unpredictability and complexity.
  • 3. Deep Embodiment
    This is all about putting yourself into a multi-sensory immersion. For example, don’t just read about a new idea, but also start putting it into action at the same time.

II) Psychological Triggers

  • 4. Clear Goals
    Clarity is the key here, When you understand exactly what your immediate goal is, your mind does not need to worry about what to do next and your focus naturally tightens.
  • 5. Immediate Feedback
    Create a feedback loop that can help improve your performance in real-time. This way your mind is focused in the now and not wondering how to make something better.
  • 6. Challenge/Skills Ratio
    If the challenge far outweighs our skills, fear seeps in. If it’s too easy, we’ll get bored. Find that sweet-spot between anxiety and boredom, and flow will kick in.

III) Social Triggers

  • 7. Familiarity
    If you’re working in a team, get everyone on the same page so you can establish a common knowledge base and communication style.
  • 8. Blending Egos
    Steven describes this quite succinctly as, “a collective version of humility” where no one is hogging the spotlight and everyone is involved.
  • 9. Sense of Control
    This is all about combining autonomy and mastery. Choose your own challenges and have the necessary skills to surmount them.
  • 10. Close Listening
    Be fully present in the now when engaging in conversation. It’s all about allowing organic, real-time responses to unfold.
  • 11. Always Say “Yes, and…”
    Make your interaction additive as opposed to argumentative. Build momentum by continually amplifying each other’s ideas and actions.

IV) Creative Triggers

  • 12. Pattern Recognition
    Allow your brain to link new ideas together by tackling problems from completely different (and sometimes outrageous) angles...
  • 13. Taking Risk
    … And have the courage to bring these new ideas to the world. No matter how improbable you think it’ll succeed.

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