Flow

Friday, October 26, 2001

Greetings,

I love my work, but although the spirit is strong, this morning I was feeling physically and mentally spent.  I was particularly looking forward to revitalizing in the tranquil open spaces of the mountains. 

Seneca alerts us that a balanced life is the better life, and that we must also engage in solitude as well as service. "It is important to withdraw into one's self."  

When I'm at work, I am focused, service- and other-directed.  From the first second that I am in the office to the last when I leave, my mind is on high-alert. I give each of my clients the best of my brain power, and the endorphins generated by being of service to individuals sustain me.  

I get into a state that psychologists call "flow" - an almost meditative condition where people can achieve leaps towards solving complex problems. It's the state where you start work, look up, and notice that four hours have passed.


Flow. The concept of "flow" was first proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow : The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Flow has been described as a sort of zen-like living in the present through complete absorption in activity, which is a singularly productive and desirable state.

Reviewer Peter J. O'Malley writes:
"Csikszentmihalyi defines "flow" as the feeling of effortlessness of action we experience at the best moments in our lives. People in flow are completely focused; self-consciousness and the awareness of time give way to full immersion in the moment. We usually attain flow when faced with clear and challenging goals that stretch our abilities without overtaxing them. Most often people have "flow experiences" when they engage in their favorite activities, whether playing or working." 


I can work non-stop, unaware of hunger or thirst.  Every workday, I see a consistently maximum client load.  Between clients, I flow right into administrative duties, including making calls, seeing product pushers, doing paper work, helping with office decision-making and problem-solving, being available for spur-of-the-moment consultations, and staying connected and in communication with my co-workers.  

I regard my time as valuable and finite, and I treat that time with respect. I make it a habit to not fritter away or squander any productive time. I am a One Minute Manager; I abhor formal, unproductive, drawn-out meetings.  Meetings for the sake of meetings. Gag.  Rather than making extra trips back in the office for meetings, I prefer to meet individually with my co-workers over lunch.

Since my schedule is booked weeks, if not months in advance, there are no open spots that can absorb schedule glitches. If our clients' needs require that I go over-time, or if they arrive late, or my co-workers are running behind, I leave later in the day. 

I work as an exempt professional, and consider it a privilege to do so. My role models inspire me: God is not an hourly worker and Jesus' work knew no bounds in time and space.  Both work in  Flow.

Uninterrupted work allows me to stay in flow, enabling me to accomplish in one day what most will take a day and a half, maybe even two days, to accomplish.  At ten years, we achieved what take most offices take 20 years to accomplish.  At twenty years,  we will have surpassed our predescessors by four times.

Yesterday, thank goodness for Doni's and Cia's thoughtfulness.  They knew that I had scheduled  a client who needed comfort during my lunch hour.  They had a tasty chicken sandwich and a cup of coffee waiting for me in DH's office. During my administrative hour, Cia stopped by and Doni pulled up a chair to chat.  I got caught up in my day, and thanks to them, I remained nourished and in flow.  

 

"To live means to experience--through doing, feeling, thinking. Experience takes place in time, so time is the ultimate scarce resource we have. Over the years, the content of experience will determine the quality of life. Therefore one of the most essential decisions any of us can make is about how one's time is allocated or invested."
~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I choose to work in flow, uninterrupted. For me, flow is an efficient work mode. I am neither a workaholic, nor am I a martyr. I reward myself with full days to recuperate, refresh, and, these days, to get into spirit flow.   

A body cannot live on endorphins alone.  Today, it was with concentrated effort that I got my body in gear. Determined to get on the road to the mountains as soon as DH got home, I tackled the housecleaning, dishes and laundry, and packed for the weekend. 

When DH got home, I was champing at the bit. But darn if I didn't forget to eat lunch.  Sitting in the car, I realized that I was famished.  On the way up, we stopped at Arby's. We don't often stop at Arby's, so when we do, it is a treat.  I slathered my sandwich with horsey sauce (I love the stuff) and Arby sauce. 

On the way up the mountain, I spotted a golden hawk soaring over Snow Valley.  What a majestic sight!   

I felt like I, too, could fly up the mountain.

 

"Problems are solved only when we devote a great deal of attention to them and in a creative way."
 ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

After we'd unpacked and settled in,  our neighbors, Pat and Bernie with Bear, the handsome black Chow, stopped by and the world's tragic events came closer to home.  Today is Pat's 49th birthday.  She almost didn't make it. 

Pat was supposed to be at the World Trade Center for a meeting on 9-11!  

Thank goodness, a meeting in Chicago went overtime, and she spent an extra night there. It wasn't her time, she says. It was, however, time for over 200 of her fellow AON employees.  It has been a very difficult time for her.  This is the first time that Pat has been up for some time, and I am happy for her that she is here to decompress this weekend.

Bernie, thank goodness, took an early retirement a year ago.  He's been having the time of his life up on the mountain.  Like Pat, he also has lost friends in the WTC; as many as  200 of his former risk-management insurance firm's staff perished.

 

 

Claudia and Jeff stopped by and invited us to dinner at the Japanese restaurant.  They picked us up at 5, and we had a relaxing time sharing bottles of Sapporo beer and enjoying shrimp tempura, salmon teriyaki, California rolls, and seafood sukiyaki.  DH and I are sushi addicts at the bar, so we rarely order off the menu, off the bar.  We were very much impressed with the table menu, and the prices are affordable, at least $5 less per meal, than the Japanese restaurants we frequent down the hill.  We'll have to come back again to sample more of their table menu.

C&J are seriously considering selling their San Clemente home to buy or build or remodel a permanent, full-time residence up here in the mountain sunshine.  They'll need a place  with room enough for their boat and future fifth-wheel, as C's son Jason may be transferring from Las Vegas to Chicago.  The fifth-wheel sounds like a perfect vehicle to go visit their adorable grandson, Jordan and his dog, Skip, her son and her button-pushin' daughter-in-law.

This is a happy, change-filled time in their lives, and you can see the excitement and sense of adventure in their eyes.  They've had their share of adversities before they found each other.  Claudia described a stint working at a bingo parlor to help make ends meet for her and her two boys.  This was before she met Jeff.

Jeff is her knight in shining armor ... and she's his catch of his life.  A beautiful pairing.

We got back in time for the TV show, Providence.  We are fans of actor, producer, human rights activist, death penalty opponent, and humanitarian, Mike Farrell and his character's golden retriever, Fearless.

 

 

"Life is a Gift."

Sincerely,
Author Unknown

 

past    the present    future

  who | what | archives | comments

 

This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
.
September Morn 2001