Source | LinkedIn : By Daniel Goleman
If you’re lucky, you’ve been there.
With practice, you can get there many times a day.
Where? That place called Flow… where you are totally focused, everything else falls away, you perform at your best, and work feels effortless.
What is Flow?
Flow was first explained by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly and a team of researchers at the University of Chicago. They asked people to describe a time when they performed at their peak. Regardless of profession – sports, chess, surgery – everyone’s description was the flow state. It’s not just experts who can experience this mindset. Everyone works best when they’re in what some people call the zone.
Smart leaders who help people get into flow and stay there know they will work at their peak abilities. The more time an organization’s employees spend there, the better they will perform. This is especially true for anyone whose work requires creativity.
Your Brain on Flow
In this state of mind a brain is primed for optimal performance and creativity by something neuroscientists call transient hypofrontality. Hypofrontality refers to the deactivation of the prefrontal cortex, the section of the brain that deals with thinking and cognitive functions. Transient means it is a temporary condition. The prefrontal cortex is also where our sense of self resides. In flow, that sense of self drops away.
A specific part of our brain – the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – is in charge of monitoring our impulses. That self-critical section steps back when we enter the zone, making us more open to new possibilities.
Researchers have seen many changes in brain chemistry when someone is in flow. Performance-enhancing chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins flood the brain. Some of the chemicals increase our ability to focus, while others help us link ideas together in new ways.