Flow – or how you might be creating your own problems to avoid being bored…

here are moments in life where things seem to get really smooth. Suddenly, you notice many problems arising. You were on a high, gliding through the skies, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face and the soft breeze of the wind on your cheeks, and all of a sudden, as you are plunging, you start to see that things seem out of control.

Last week, I was coaching, an extraordinary American-Liberian woman, Wani Iris Manly, Esq. After having built her law firm in the U.S., and served clients for 12 years, she decided to leave Miami and move to Paris, a city in which she knew no one, did not know one word of French, and without having a plan, other than to listen to her heart which prompted her to move after receiving daily signs over a year that lead her to the iconic City of Lights. There she would become a best-selling author and an international keynote speaker helping high performers find the courage within. She works in Paris and gave a talk last year to a crowd of high net worth individuals and CEOs from around the globe at Crom Castel, in Northern Ireland. She wrote a book, Get Out of Survival Mode and Live the Life You Really Want, that collected 100% 5-star reviews on Amazon, and became an instant bestseller in two categories on Amazon. As a high performer, all that seems natural to her yet she feels she’s not successful enough, even though most people look up to her in awe.

Towards the end of the conversation, she had an insight that changed her life: She realized that her not feeling successful enough was complete rubbish [her words], and that the struggle she experienced on her journey to success was because she was not aiming high enough. She is so talented that she truly needed a big challenge to perform at her best and give it all here in Paris, a completely new terrain that she’s ever traversed in all aspects of her life, work and ambitions.

I wrote an article on the 10 signs that you are ready for a new challenge, and this was clearly her case.

The human mind is fascinating. If you are performing below your capacity, you will feel bored. Human beings don’t like to be bored. This was explained very well by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (video to pronounce his name) in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Csikszentmihalyi studied humans at the peak of their performance, whether in sports or other activities that require a high level of focus. He explains that there are two crucial variables to look at:

The level of your ability, and the level of the challenge.

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From the graph, we can see that if the task is too challenging, and your abilities too low, you will feel stressed out and anxious. On the opposite, if your abilities are too high and the challenge too low, you will feel relaxed or bored.

My own take on this is that when you feel sad or depressed, a counterintuitive way to get out of that state is to create a challenge for yourself, that will require you to rise to the occasion. If you feel bored, you can do the same, and raise the bar to reach out to the stars.

I would even go further for high performers especially:

When you do not have consciously aimed high enough (and created a big enough challenge), you will subconsciously create problems in your life. This could be seen as a form of self-sabotage in your personal life, your business, your relationships, your finances, …

You can see that at an individual level, and at the collective level as well: In organizations where employees are not challenged enough, there will be more gossip, quarrels and less cooperation. Set the roof on fire, or a big audacious goal and the teams can get together to solve the problem with all their capacity.

There is no self-sabotage in emergency situations. When you are in a life and death situation, you will do exactly what needs to be done, without a second thought.

Going back to my client last week, I sensed that she needed a bigger challenge, so I drew out a vision for her to create an amazing year 2020 with audacious goals that will give her the traction that she needs to feel fulfilled and perform at her best. Her eyes lit up and she was filled with joy and excitement at the idea of making this vision happen.

As coaches for high performers, your role is to give your clients a bigger vision that they can LIVE into, when they forget how amazing and powerful they are. This will make them feel more alive than ever.

When is the last time you felt in Flow?

What are your current 3 biggest challenges in your life?

If there was only one goal that you could accomplish in 2020, that right now seems impossible, what would that be?

If you would like a conversation to create an amazing and life-fulfilling vision for 2020, feel free to reach out to me.

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