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The After-Rhythm of Flow

I’ve written about flow a couple of times but I feel that I’m leaving out a vital part. Flow is the state of optimum performance for humans: The feeling of getting lost in your work. It happens to creatives, accountants, snowboarders, weightlifters… all across the board there is a commonality between us and this is the ability to get lost in our work or Flow. An important part of flow, that I was reminded of while writing about Broken Hustle, is the “After-Rhythm.” After-Rhythm is what Steven Kotler, author of The Rise Of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, used to describe the dip that comes after being inside that flow state, where everything is coming quickly and your work is awesome and you love it, to a place where things just aren’t happening with as much ease. The after-rhythm is natural, it’s normal, and it’s going to happen.

Sometimes we get in a hurry when things start to get slow. Whether “slow” is in the form of us slowing down in energy and hustle or in creativity and work, when things start to get slow we panic. Remember, there will be an ebb and flow. A natural rhythm to our work and our life and we have to learn to not only accept that but to understand it. To recognize when it’s coming and have a plan.

Here’s what to do when you start to arrive in the After-Rhythm:

1) Don’t Panic.
2) Rest.
3) Start taking in (a lot) new ideas. (via books, conferences, friends over coffee…)
4) Start making more stuff.

Flow, After Rhythm
An after-rhythm is the receding wave after the epic crash on the sea stacks as the water falls down the rocks. It’s the calm after the storm of awesome. The most important thing to remember is that it will come again but you can’t force it. You just have to start the process over again and be ok with that. If you want to make awesome stuff consistently over time you can’t give up every time your tank is empty. Just becasue you run out of gas doesn’t mean you bail on the journey.  Just keep an eye on the fuel gauge, pull over, fill up the tank and keep going. Keep making stuff.

Happy Monday!


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