Achieving a State of Flow and Motivation

Two Factor Theory (Human Motivation)
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ANTONIO BARRANCO RUIZ
Director, Spain

Achieving a State of Flow and Motivation

A "State of Flow", according to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is the ability to focus our psychic energy and attention on the performance of tasks of our choice in which each moment is enjoyed, moving us to a state of high well-being, which we could define as happiness, fulfillment or excellence.
It carries high emotional energy, combined with high levels of task-focused skills. It supposes a positive reinforcement of human development that feeds itself as we carry out plans and tasks.

Example : The same level of satisfaction can be achieved by an artist creating and painting a work of art, and a painter planning and painting a house. It is possible to reach a flow state in both cases and it can be highly satisfactory.

From the experiential point of view, when we reach the Flow state, the task is not bland, trivial or boring, because the reward comes from the same act of performing this task. We could say that we immerse ourselves in a personal autotelic mechanism.
In Csíkszentmihályi's work "Finding Flow. The Psychology of Engagement of Everyday Life", we see that this state arises from the optimal combination of Challenges and Skills, as shown in the diagram below.
People are happiest when they challenge themselves with tasks that demand a high degree of skill and commitment, and which are undertaken for their own sake.

According to the author, human life has not changed much since we were prehominids. We use ⅓ of our life to "look for calories" (WORK); another ⅓ in the maintenance of our body (SELF-CARE) and a last ⅓ in the search for PLEASURE, what the ancient Greeks called "Scholeia" which is what they did in their free time, which is nothing more than "TO LEARN". From the Greek word "Scholeia" comes the current word "School": learn, explore, develop curiosity, acquire skills, focus the path towards self-sufficiency, in a human and reasonable measure.

Characteristics of the Flow State:

Flow status characteristics are as follows:
1. Mix of Challenges and Skills
2. High concentration and Focus
3. Clear Goals
4. Direct and Immediate Feedback
5. No Room for Distractions
6. Personal Control over Activity
7. Loss of Feeling of Self-awareness
8. Distortion of the Sense of Time

Flow status can be one of the best consequences of intrinsic motivation (in my opinion, true motivation). As managers we can help our team and its members achieve this "State of Flow" by increasing their skills and setting high and exciting challenges.

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