I spent a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon listening to a podcast about being in a ‘flow state’. It was an interview with Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman, a book about decoding the science of ultimate human performance.
I use these podcasts to learn and distract as I push my body a little harder and faster on my ultra running journey. It’s only been five weeks since I ran 50 miles for the first time, so right now my mind and body remain a little fatigued, despite the need to ramp up my weekly mileage in preparation for a 100km ultra marathon race over the August Bank Holiday Weekend.
Listening to experts debate what it means to be in a state of ‘flow’ and sharing some tips on getting there was rather timely. It certainly made a 13 mile run on a hot afternoon pass by a little faster.
One of the points discussed in this particular podcast explained that the optimum state for making progress (known as the ‘flow zone’) requires you to consistently stretch yourself a little, but not too much.
Flow exists near the midline between boredom and anxiety. If you engage in a task which is too dull, your attention is disengaged, which means your action and awareness cannot merge to create a flow state. If the task is too hard, fear starts to spike and the result is looking for ways to extricate yourself from the situation.
Kotler explains that the sweet spot for maintaining a flow state is when the challenge is slightly greater than the skills we bring to the table. I think this knowledge has an application beyond athletic performance, informing how we might achieve better results in our professional lives as well. Working within our professional competency is of course essential, if we are to avoid the delivery of unsuitable advice, but stretching ourselves slightly to bigger and better things is the only way we can grow.
Whether my current project to produce a feature-length documentary about the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement is an example of a challenge which is slightly greater than the skills I bring to the table is yet to be seen.
For the past six months I have been meeting with a range of expert commentators and interviewing them on camera. With 14 interviews now in the can and only one more to film, the really hard work of editing the movie and writing a script can begin. Part of this post-production process is raising some additional funds to cover items including professional narration, rights to use copyrighted materials and entry to film festivals.
I decided to use Kickstarter to crowdfund this post-production activity, as an alternative to seeking more corporate sponsorship and also as a way to build a loyal team of supporters who will help promote the movie when it is released, to coincide with Financial Planning Week this November. Assuming all goes to plan, I believe this movie has the potential to enhance the reputation of the Financial Planning community, raise awareness of the issues surrounding the Baby Boomer generation entering retirement and highlight the value of working with a Financial Planner.
If you agree with that view of the world, you can back the project from as little as £1 at www.kickstarter.com/projects/martinbamford/boom-a-feature-length-documentary-about-financial. The Adviser Lounge has backed the movie and become an Associate Producer, along with support from many others within the Financial Planning community. We are already more than three-quarters funded with a couple of weeks left to run on the 30 day funding window, for which I am eternally grateful to all those who have offered their financial support.
Please do consider getting involved if you would like to see this timely documentary movie finished to a high standard.