Key concepts from a leader in the scientific study of creativity.

Flow (optimum performance) happens best when people have a high degree of skill and are presented with challenges of moderate to high but not too high intensity.

I think flow can happen for anyone regardless of skill level or degree of challenge, but both ingredients can help people get into flow more consistently, recognize when they’re there and it’s value, and stay there longer. Choosing the challenge to take on and how to approach it  are key aspects for any creative person who wants to target results.

Learn more in my Creativity Lessons and Workshops.


  • Over the years I’ve taken (at least) two different approaches to “flow.”

    At first, I tried to get into flow more frequently, and tried to find ways to stay in it longer. It’s pretty cool when it works.

    But as I’ve gone on, and had to deal with the interruptions that inevitably knock me out of the flow, I’ve found that a different approach seems to get me better overall results, and that’s been trying to improve my work when not in flow, which it turns out is a lot more frequent occurrence.

    I liken it to a hitter in baseball making the conscious decision to “hit for average” rather than to “swing for the fences.” While it’s very satisfying to get in the flow for hours at a crack, much like hitting a dinger, I find myself better served by trying to improve my average. Foul off bad pitches, and wait for one good enough that I can get a bloop single out of it. It’s not as showy, but it’s something I can manage just about every day. And that’s very important when you’re working as part of a team.

    Maybe that’s a part of it – team work vs. working as an individual. Or maybe it’s more related to being a craftsman (which I consider myself) more than an artist. Plus, hitting for average makes life easier on my co-workers because it’s more predictable. And given the interruptions that come with working on a team, I’ve found I *had* to learn to hit for average. It means fewer big plays, but folks can count on me day in and day out.

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