What’s the most common piece of advice you’re likely to receive for getting better at something? Work harder. Try harder. Put more effort in. Pay more attention to what you’re doing. DO more.
Yet what do we experience when we are performing at our best? The exact opposite. Everything becomes effortless. We act without thinking or even giving ourselves time to think. We stop judging our actions as good or bad and observe them as they are. It is often called being in the zone or flow.
We can spend an abundance of time and energy monitoring how we appear to others, however, during flow any concerns for the self dissipates as we become one with the activity.
Flow tends to be a fleeting state, where we are either interrupted by an external factor, or by our own inner critical voice… So, what can we do to remain in flow? Well, one aspect, which is always within our control, is to train our mind to master our ‘inner critic’. This is what professional athletes practice in order to handle pressure when it really counts. But it is equally useful during a conflict, a negotiation… or actually at any time in life when you face a challenge.