Hi. My name is Haris and I am a new member of the X Honours social media team. Today, I want to describe the flow state (getting in the zone) and how I use it to build confidence when giving presentations.
What is the flow state?
The flow state involves being immersed in the activity at hand such that you forget day-to-day life. If you are watching a movie or playing a game you are really passionate about, you want to focus on what is happening. To not miss anything. Flow is more actively experienced in competitive activities with the right balance of challenging but not too easy. If it is too easy, you are bored. Too difficult and you are stressed. But if you enjoy your work and it is a good fit for you – work becomes play!
The flow state involves not thinking?
When someone becomes an expert at something, they do not have to consciously think about every step of what they are doing – they do it automatically. When I am playing the piano, it almost feels like my fingers get a life of their own and play themselves! If I was consciously thinking about every key I was playing, my conscious brain would slow me down. Similarly, I once went on a university trip during my Bachelor’s. There was a pen and paper and we had to navigate a maze – but a mirror inverted the maze. Every time I moved my hand up on the paper, the pen actually moved down! In situations like this, the conscious brain is likely to hinder you from achieving the task. I stopped thinking with logic and let my hand have a life of its own – and I was faster than all my friends 😉
How do you use the flow state in uncomfortable/stressful situations like presentations?
“A person constantly worried about how others will perceive him, who is afraid of creating the wrong impression, or of doing something inappropriate is condemned to permanent exclusion from enjoyment” – Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
When we really want to achieve something, there is always a pressure to achieve a desired outcome. When giving a presentation, this pressure leads to fear of failure – I am worried about all the things that can go wrong. This prevents me from accessing the present moment, saying what I want to say and being confident. There is a desired outcome but also a resistance – part of me doesn’t want to even try because trying can lead to failure. Normally, we bury resistance. Try to deny fear. Avoid it. I have a 3-step solution. 1) Self-investigation 2) Building small positive steps and 3) Mindfulness.
Know who you are and what are your strengths and try to use them in day-to-day life. This means, even in situations where you are under a lot of pressure, you can focus on these positive things. For example, I am very intelligent, I work hard and am passionate – but I still get nervous.
Small, positive steps
You don’t have to do a perfect job straight away in presentations. Congratulate yourself on small improvements in your presentations – or try practicing with friends you are comfortable around.
Be conscious, aware and accept the present – without being overexcited by it. Don’t bury resistance, deny it or avoid it. Try to accept the pressure and take action anyway. The important thing is to combine this with self-investigation – to help have something positive to focus on. As I said before, congratulate yourself on small steps (and when you are scared, you can also remember these small successes to combat the voices of you are going to fail). You can do it!
Relating to the 5 X-Honours pillars, I think this is connected to personal leadership – because it helps you take responsibility for your life with more confidence and achieve any desired outcomes.
– Written by Haris Wahid
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