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Fear and Flow. There’s a problem in football.

Fear and Flow

The problem is that owners want to win and they want to win yesterday. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to win. In fact, only one team does—which is, as they say, why they play the games. And while not everyone can win, everyone really can be fired. Firing coaches has become the cause-du-jour in football as of late. The 2008-2009 football season is not even over (okay it’s almost over, but we do have one week to go) and a ton of people have been let go. It doesn’t even include all the position coaches who have lost jobs alongside the head coaches—and there were plenty of those. But here’s the problem—and it is a deeply psychological one at that—at the heart of every champion is a flow state. So what is a flow state? In his seminal work “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” Csikszentmilahyi argued that people are at their happiest when they are in a state of total concentration and complete absorption in the task at hand. Finding flow. We all are capable of reaching that stateof effortless concentration and enjoyment called "flow.

Finding flow

" Here, the man who literally wrote the book on flow presents his most lucid account yet of how to experience this blissful state. IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE SKIING DOWN A SLOPE and your full attention is focused on the movements of your body and your full attention is focused on the movements of your body, the position of the skis, the air whistling past your face, and the snow-shrouded trees running by. There is no room in your awareness for conflicts or contradictions; you know that a distracting thought or emotion might get you buried face down in the snow. The run is so perfect that you want it to last forever. If skiing does not mean much to you, this complete immersion in an experience could occur while you are singing in a choir, dancing, playing bridge, or reading a good book.

These exceptional moments are what I have called "flow" experiences. How often do people experience flow? Mental State Called Flow. A number of sources, most recently ProgrammingOutsideTheCube and the RingerTape page, say that many folk find it takes time to get into a state where work flows.

Mental State Called Flow

Do you plan to get into flow, does it come upon you more as a kind of inspiration, or is it not necessary for you? Do you use tactics to improve your team's ability to flow? Which particular events disrupt flow the most, and how do you solve them? For me, flow requires both inspiration and expiration, if that makes sense. I need to get out into green places or seasides to drink in what's around me, and then I can breathe that vitality back into my work. Interesting but difficult to summarize: The mental state that psychologists call "flow", and its impact on your project, are well described in chapter 10 ("brain time versus body time") of PeopleWare.

About 20-30 minutes of Zen meditation once or twice per day should be a great help. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, fulfillment and flow.