Saturday night, I had the distinct pleasure of attending Jamie Wheal’s and Steven Kotler’s “Flow Salon” at the Summit Series’ awesome home in Malibu, California.
The evening was memorable - to say the least - on many levels.
First, by whatever name you call it - "the runner's high," being "in the moment," "in the zone", "when time slows down," "the opposite of writer's block,” flow has been studied and celebrated by mystics, athletes, artists and their coaches and guides for centuries.
While even the most articulate among us struggle to put into words exactly what flow is, where it comes from, and what it means, simply hearing the Saturday night tales of “flow states” from Jamie and Steven’s assembled group was beyond exhilarating.
Steven shared his story of how attaining flow through surfing cured him of the Lyme Disease that had left him bed-ridden for three years.
Jamie shared flow states from various vignettes in his life – from skateboarding as a young boy that ignited in him a lifelong love of the outdoors and action sports, to being at the bedside of his dying mother and having his hand on her heart for her last breath, to when as a management consultant he had facilitated moments of great group creativity and common cause that are the emblems of high-performing teams and organizations.
And the stories went on - from world class cyclists, skiers, tennis and soccer players, to writers, musicians, and artists, to entrepreneurs and executives - of fleeting moments of full “aliveness,” of “oneness,” of pure joy and peak productivity – that alternately inspired, intrigued, and thrilled the gathering.
Now, while the evening could have stood on its own as just a great Saturday night out on the town, what saved it from descending into psycho babble and even a bit of self-congratulation was Jamie and Steven's inspiring vision.
You see, the goal of their Flow Genome Project is to do nothing less than to distill flow - this so enchanting elixir of human experience - into its component parts.
To fully understand and document the neuroscience and biochemistry and maybe even the quantum mechanics underlying it.
And then, to make it available - on demand - to anyone with the requisite amount of courage and commitment to seek it.
Now, let me be clear. Even though everyone at the salon agreed that "being in flow" is the most fun they have ever had, Jaime and Steven are not narcissists, nor pleasure seekers for its own sake.
Far from it.
Rather, they are inspired by the power of flow to shift paradigms, to spur innovation, and to allow access to previously undiscovered paths and creative avenues to solutions to some of humanity’s most vexing problems.
Like cancer, depression, and addiction.
Like dysfunctions of family, team, company, and nation.
Heck, about how answering - experientially - those vexing questions of meaning, purpose, and journey that are part and parcel of the global, 21st century life experience.
Their goal is to do so - through a quintessentially modern, public/private, profit/non-profit business plan - by the year 2020.
Will they / can they do it?
Time and experience will tell, of course.
But, either way, on Saturday night an eclectic group of seekers, strivers, athletes, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs were very inspired by Jamie and Steven’s courage and commitment to share the early steps of their journey.
So Jamie and Steven, godspeed, and may the force - and the flow - be with you.