What if politics was a flow experience? An activity we are so engaged in that we lose a sense of time & space.
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, suggests politics might be the highest form of flow.
I see 3 reasons why being engaged in politics can be flow at its best:
1) Engage in high complexity
'Politics' is not one thing, one activity. But what distinguishes it from other domains, is that other people, groups of people will be involved. And that in itself makes it more complex than activities that only involve you or the closest people around you:
"politics can be one of the most enjoyable and most complex activities available to the individual, for the larger the social arena one moves in, the greater the challenges it presents. A person can deal with very intricate problems in solitude, and family and friends can take up a lot of attention. But trying to optimize the goals of unrelated individuals involves complexities an order of magnitude higher.” 'Flow' p. 190
If the complexity/challenge of politics is met with high capability, then flow emerges (and not anxiety).
2) Be a flow model
'Be a role model!' can sound like yet another duty.
How about: Be a flow model?
- Small children being so absorbed in a game, they are fully present and are loving it. Heart-warming.
- A highly-skilled violinist plays a solo, totally in flow, so much that it is contagious. Inspiring.
- A public speaker, with deep conviction, credibility, and connected with their audience. Electrifying.
Being a role model is thinking about and playing a role you want to model.
Being a flow model is going for the challenges that matter to you, that are difficult but not completely out of reach. Not thinking and playing a role, but being engaged in challenges. Knowing that people around you will notice and, perhaps, want to have a piece of that.
3) Shape conditions of flow
How can your work help create environments where flow is more likely to emerge?
We know in which conditions flow emerges.
So, if we're leading a team, how can shape our work & how we work so that people can more easily get into flow.
If we're shaping policy, we have an opportunity to shape these flow conditions on a much bigger scale.
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🖋️ My favourite quote
At the end of every road you meet yourself - S.N. Behrman