Flow ….

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Another great post from Don Blohowiak at Leadership. Now., August 15th 2005

“In his classic book Flow:The Psychology of Optimal Experience, psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi provides an unintended but remarkably useful lesson on workplace productivity.


Dr. Csikszentmihalyi notes that when people reflect on their most positive experiences they “mention at least one, and often all,” of the following attributes:

  • The experience usually occurs when they confront tasks they have a chance of completing
  • They are able to concentrate on what they’re doing
  • The task has clear goals
  • They receive immediate feedback
  • They can act with a deep but effortless involvement that removes from theirawareness the worries and frustrations of everyday life
  • They can exercise a sense of control over their actions
  • Concern for the self disappears, yet, paradoxically, the sense of self emerges stronger after the flow experience is over
  • Time sense is distorted: hours pass in what seems like minutes and minutes can stretch out to seem like hours.

“The combination of all these elements,” Dr. Csikszentmihalyi observes, “causes a sense of deep enjoyment that is so rewarding people feel that expending a great deal of energy is worthwhile simply to be able to feel it.”

If you’re a golf lover, you could use this list to explain why you enjoy such a challenging game.

If you’re a manager, try using this as a checklist to assess whether you’re providing the conditions for your associates to do their best work and to become so thoroughly engaged in it that they want to do it.

Get flow flowing in your workplace and watch both morale and profits flow better, too.”

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Me? I write about this as Samurai driving … the time when you drive from one end of the trip to another without messing a gear change, braking hard or even really thinking – Zen in a car.


The Art of the Woman Warrior

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From Inc Magazine, August 2005

As the rare women in their Marine officer-training school, Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch struggled with the physical demands of the job. Leading male troops, though, most of whom had never worked for a woman before, was more difficult. Eventually, they figured it out, and now they’re teaching other women how to lead. Last year, Morgan and Lynch launched Lead Star, a company based in Fairfax, Va., that conducts workshops for women’s business groups and for female managers at companies like Wal-Mart and Burger King. Sessions focus on 10 concepts that Morgan and Lynch learned from the Marines.

One is leading as you are. In the Corps, according to Lynch, a lot of women think they need to be more like a man or talk in a deep voice. “Stay who you are,” she says, “and the troops will appreciate that.” The other concepts include exceeding the standards you set for others; making timely decisions rather than waiting for 100% of the information; and avoiding emotional reactions (or, as their drill instructor told them, “save the drama for your mama”).

The rule that’s toughest for many businesswomen to follow is refraining from apologies, Morgan says, even though “it breaks down your ability to communicate as a leader.” Never say “I’m sorry” when you interrupt a meeting (use “excuse me”), never apologize for something that’s not your fault, and never, ever cry at work. When you do make a mistake, “as a leader, you say you’re sorry just once,” Morgan says.

Business lessons drawn from the military have been around for ages—hasn’t every CEO read The Art of War? But until now, women have embraced them much less than men. Yet Lynch and Morgan believe the tough-love leadership of the Marines is great for women who usually don’t get those lessons elsewhere. “The Marine Corps is not a natural source of inspiration for most women,” says Lynch, “but every woman can learn how to lead the Marine Corps way—without strapping on a pair of combat boots.”