In many of my posts I reference Flow, the optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and we perform our best. As a leader, your ability to ‘hack’ Flow – meaning you and your team can more readily achieve the Flow state – is a shortcut to higher performance. Here are some hacks to help you get to Flow more quickly and more often.

1) Go to Bed!

In the Flow Cycle, the last phase is Recovery, and the best form of recovery is pure sleep. Research is still proving that for the average person 7-8 hours of solid sleep a night is critical for recovery. Think about elite athletes, do you imagine they could do what they do day after day if they were not getting enough sleep? How can you as a leader be at your best if you are tired and worn down? Challenge yourself to turn off the TV, say no to socializing when you need to, and get some shut-eye; you will thank yourself in the morning.

2) Turn off Technology*

You do realize that your smart phone has an off button don’t you, or at least airplane mode or sleep mode? Do not let technology interfere with your ability to get a good night’s rest. It can be tempting at 2 am to check your email, but resist and even better, do not allow your phone in bed with you! *Oh yea, about that asterisk. There are some apps and technology that can actually help your sleep. I am an avid user of Sleep Time, an app that tracks and shows your sleep stages to help you see if you are getting enough sleep. I also highly recommend Holosync technology – sort of a meditation lite – prior to going to bed, to help you to sleep better. So yes, you heard me right, turn off your phone unless you are going to leverage the technology to get better sleep.

3) Live in the mood of gratitude

I know this sounds like a Zig Ziglar quote, but the power of gratitude cannot be denied. Shifting how you look at something can be huge in your ability to hack Flow. Going back to the Flow cycle, the first part of the cycle is struggle. You need challenges that are just above your abilities to create Flow. Think about it; how boring would your job be if you were not challenged at all? So the challenges you are facing are actually gifts that are teaching you the skills you need to succeed as you move forward.  Simply by seeing that the trials and tribulations are making you better and stronger will allow you to release and find Flow (step 3 in the Flow cycle). So what are you thankful for?

4) Get into your body and out of your head

When we are challenged and stressed out a common way to deal with it is to over think it. You know what I am talking about, you fret and worry and talk about it, and talk about it, and think about what if…blah, blah, blah. This overwhelm is great for the struggle phase of the flow cycle, but if we stay here too long we burn out. A great way to hack Flow is go do something in your body. If you are a runner go for a long run, a biker go for a bike ride, a surfer, find some waves, do something that requires you to get into your body and let go of your mind. It does not necessarily have to be strenuous physical activity, it can be painting, walking, or to going work in your garden, just do something to get out of your head. Then after you do it, go get some sleep (see hack #1.)

5) Have fun!

Ever watch kids play? They can go on for hours and just keep creating and discovering. Tap into the kid in you. Work can be fun. Do something at work to make it fun. Struggling with your team? Take an afternoon off and go play paintball as a team or go to happy hour on a Tuesday. Research shows that we are up to 70% more effective when we are playing versus working, so turn your “work” into “fun.”  Allow the body’s ability to create flow to be triggered by laughing and having fun, after all, if you are miserable as a boss, how do you think your team feels?

Go create Flow, hack away and find Flow to increase your creativity and productivity as a team and as a leader. As for me, it is bedtime and I have some great technology that I am going to use to help me sleep like a kid (so I can play again tomorrow!)

About Croft Edwards

Croft Edwards, MCC, leadership coach and speaker, is a thought leader in the field of leadership and organizational change. He is the President of CROFT + Company, a global leadership and organizational change firm with clients spanning the spectrum from oil companies and manufacturing firms, to government entities and non-profits, to small businesses and start-ups. He has coached hundreds of leaders at all levels of organizations from front-line supervisors to CEOs and Social Entrepreneurs. His speciality is the study of LeadershipFlow, the melding of the emerging study of Flow with the field of Ontological Coaching which looks at how leaders show up in their use of language, moods and emotions and the body. Croft is also a retired Army officer with a decorated career as a command and staff officer in the United States Army, both active and reserve.


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