Issue 117 - 02 | Flowing to the River of Ultimate Performance: The Science of Productivity

By Steven Kotler
Published May 14, 2014 12:00 p.m.
“Researchers define flow as an ‘optimal state of consciousness,’ a peak state where we feel our best and perform our best. … If you’ve ever lost an afternoon to a great conversation or become so involved in a work project that all else was forgotten, then you’ve tasted this experience. In flow, we are so focused on the task at hand that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge. Time flies. Self vanishes. All aspects of performance—mental and physical—go through the roof.

We call this experience flow because that is the sensation conferred. In the state, every action, each decision, leads effortlessly, fluidly, seamlessly to the next. It’s high-speed problem solving; it’s being swept away by the river of ultimate performance.

This last bit is no exaggeration. Over 100 years of research shows that flow sits at the heart of almost every athletic championship; underpins major scientific breakthroughs; and accounts for significant progress in the arts. … In recent years, flow has also become exceptionally critical to business.”

About Steven Kotler | Steven Kotler is a New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist. His previous books include Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, and West of Jesus and the novel The Angle Quickest for Flight. His articles have appeared in over 60 publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Wired, Forbes, GQ, National Geographic, Popular Science, Discover and the Los Angeles Times. He also writes “Far Frontiers,” a blog about disruptive technology, guerilla neuroscience, and adrenaline sport for, and “The Playing Field,” a blog about the science of sport and culture for Kotler is the cofounder and Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project.

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