Flow And Your Business
Want profit? Want love? Want organizational belonging? Want a trusted brand? Want happiness?
You cannot achieve any of these goals by going after them directly. They are all byproducts of indirect, internal, and meaningful activities that yield these results.
Yesterday the author and architect of FLOW, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi passed away.
His groundbreaking book based on 25 years on the study of “optimal experience” (AKA the “FLOW” a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation) showed us that when we cannot achieve what’s most valuable by direct pursuit.
Instead these most-sought-after human experiences are inside jobs.
We can only achieve the blessed states of flow, optimal experience, transcendence and happiness, by managing our internal conditions so that flow and other states can be experienced.
By going inward and dedicating oneself to a cause greater than oneself, we achieve what we wanted all along.
After I read the news last night about Mihaly, I dove back into Flow. I was pleasantly surprised to re-read significant portions of his book that aligns with what I’m attempting to unveil in my upcoming book The Beautiful Business.
Like Mihaly, I’m attempting to make the case that if you want to build a business entity that has lasting value, creates belonging, attracts more of the right customers and creates transcendent experiences for your customers, all with love at the core, you can only do so by doing the internal work of leadership, mastery, service, character, and culture.
Here are a few potent passages and insights from FLOW:
What haven’t we learned in twenty-three hundred years?“Twenty-three hundred years ago Aristotle concluded that, more than anything else, men and women seek happiness. While happiness itself is sought for its own sake, every other goal — health, beauty, money, or power—is valued only because we expect that it will make us happy. …”
“And yet on this most important issue very little has changed in the intervening centuries. We do not understand happiness any better than Aristotle did, and as for learning how to attain that blessed condition, one could argue that we have made no progress at all.”
How to realize flow and a beautiful business.
After twenty-five years of researching this “blessed condition” what the author “discovered” was that happiness is not something happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy and power can control. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather on how we interpret them.
Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close to any of can come to being happy.
“Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychologist, summarized it beautifully in the preface of his book Man’s Search for Meaning: “Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue… last the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”
In the end, it is hard work and mastery leads to optimal experiences.
Businesses that do the inside work earn flow. Experts earn flow. Human artists who serve a cause greater then oneself earn flow.
Who would bet against anyone who’s in a state of flow? Not me, I’d be on the edge of my seat, cheering you on!
Expert Brand & Culture Builder, Advisor, Author & Speaker.
Author of The Evolved Brand & The Beautiful Business.
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.