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Get Into Your Creative Flow

Lesson 10 of 32

Flow Overview

Steven Kotler

Get Into Your Creative Flow

Steven Kotler

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Lesson Info

10. Flow Overview

Lesson Info

Flow Overview

This is our flow overview. For people in this class and people watching, anybody's who's taken flow fundamentals, Some of this is gonna overlap a little bit. Hopefully every place there's overlap we're taking you someplace new where there's new information in there for you guys. But there is gonna be a little overlap if you're familiar with flow fundamentals. So, as way to kind of kick it off, we're going to be talking about flow which is an optimal state of consciousness. And when I wrote "Rise of Super Man", I teamed up with a bunch of top athletes and a bunch of top artists to create a series of videos. So one of them was with Chase Jarvis, who is the founder, one of the founders of CreativeLive and is the guy who kind of made all this happen today. So I thought we'd kick off the flow section by looking at Chase's video on flow and creativity that we made together. Just to give you a sense of what flow feels like. (slow music) You've heard poets talk about poems literally like flo...

wing out of their body. Painters, same thing. They get a on a, on a roll. You've all seen a musician when they're in that state. The guitar, the piano, the, whatever instrument just become a part of their body. Their ego is completely gone and it's just their connection to their art. Their connection to the emotions that they're trying to share with the audience. That is pure flow. (slow techno music) Flow comes through taking risks. Risks of putting yourself out there through vulnerability. For Travis on the side of a mountain or for Dean on the side of a wall, that risk is very physical and for an artist or for a creative, the risk is far more emotional. Creativity is essentially a novel insight bumping into an old idea to create something totally, radically new. To really tap into creativity you have to take a picture that no one else in the world can take. You have to shoot a film that no one else in the world can make. You have to paint something that no one else on the world can paint. So flow massively amps up creativity. From a neural anatomical standpoint, parts of the prefrontal cortex deactivating so your inner critic, for example, gets shut down in flow. Inner critic is normally a governor on creativity. It keeps you doubting those ideas. When it turns off creative ideas can spiral, can flow. Flow doesn't happen necessarily only in, in bite sized minute by minute chunks. You can feel flow over the course oof a project. I've had this many times in my career. Where it seems like your, your just butting your head against the wall for weeks and then something happens and everything just starts to get easy. Flow heightens what's called "outside the box" thinking or lateral thinking. The ability of the brain to link very, very tangential ideas together into something new. When you're in a flow state, it begets creativity and then creativity in turn begets more flow. Most importantly, you have really interesting brainwave activity. This is kind of very similar to the state that you're in, almost as you're falling asleep, when ideas are linking together in really, really, wild, wild ways. It's a massive amplification in creativity. It's almost like that thread that's sitting there in front of you and you can grab that thread and, to me the best moments in my career as an artist or when there was no one around, it's 4:00 in the morning, I've grabbed on to one of those threads and then I'm on for the ride. (slow techno music) Cool. So, as I've said, flow is defined, technically, as an optimal state of consciousness. A state of consciousness where we feel our best and we perform our best. More specifically, flow refers to those moments of rapt attention and total absorption. Where we get so focused on the task at hand everything else disappears. Action and awareness will start to merge. So the doer and the action, they become the same thing. The surfer becomes the wave. The painter becomes the canvas. There's no separation. So it's the self, sense of self consciousness will disappear completely. Time passes strangely. The technical term is it dilates. Time dilation. What that mostly means, most of the time, is time speeds up. So five hours will pass by in like five seconds. This is an experience familiar to anybody you've written an email, you sit down to write that quick email, get really sucked in, you end up writing an essay, you look up a couple hours later and it's pages long. That's time dilation. Occasionally, most, more specifically usually this happens in sport, but in can happen in creativity, creative flow as well. Time will slow down. You'll get a freeze frame effect. Compare to anybody who's been in a car crash. And throughout, all aspects of performance, both mental and physical go through the roof.

Class Description

Do you want to learn more about flow? Take the Free Flow Profile to find out if you are a Deep Thinker, Crowd Pleaser, Hard Charger, or Flow Goer.

If creativity is already core to your life, then this program is perfect for you. This could mean you’re a copywriter at an ad agency, a scientist hunting a breakthrough, a coder designing software, an entrepreneur dreaming up your next start-up, a writer aching to finish that novel or a landscape painter trapped in the life of an accountant — all that matters is that generating novel ideas (and putting those ideas out in the world in some form or another) is core to your life and purpose.

Why Does “Flow for Creatives” even matter?

  • You keep losing the battle to be innovative in the rush to be productive.

  • You have writer’s block or coder’s block or painter’s block and the thing you used to love most in your life has become a source of pain and frustration.

  • You have trouble managing your emotions and fear keeps getting in the way of your good ideas.

  • You have trouble sustaining momentum on projects and tend to quit early rather than to finish what you started.

  • You have no idea how to gain access to groundbreaking insights and ideas when you need them most.

  • You don’t actually believe creativity is trainable.

  • You’re numbing yourself with substances and placating yourself with distractions as a way to ignore the fact that you’re not living up to your creative potential.

  • You get lost in the fixing to get ready phase, and never get down to business.

  • You keep bashing into creative walls but never breaking thru.

  • Your emotions keeping getting in the way of your desired outcomes. Fear of failure keeps you from committing to projects; perfectionism keeps you from making your work public.

Flow For Creatives can help.

It’s like an inspiration turbo-boost training program. It’s practical, experiential and experimental. You learn a new idea about Flow and Creativity, apply it to whatever problem you’re trying to solve, see what happens, then make it your own.

And, did you know…

  • When in Flow, your creative problem-solving abilities can spike by over 400 percent.

  • Research done at Harvard shows that the heightened creativity produced by Flow can outlast the state by a day, sometimes two—suggesting that Flow actually trains the brain to think more creatively over the long haul.

  • Creatives are more prone to depression than most people, but an understanding of the process can protect against this liability.

  • Creativity tops the list of 21st-century skills—meaning those skills that are essential for thriving in the modern world—yet 75 percent of people think they’re not living up to their creative potential.

  • The baseline brainwave state produced by Flow is also the ready condition for “Ah-ha” insight, meaning being in the zone makes you primed for breakthrough insight.

  • Fear blocks creativity, while Flow resets the nervous system, calming us down so we can avoid burnout and gain access to much-needed insight.

  • Unless you know how to train the brain properly, most people tap into their deepest creative potential at age 5.

  • Frustration is actually a built-in component of the creative process—it’s a sign that you’re moving in the right direction not a sign that you’re going about it all wrong.

Life is better than ever and we are feeling worse than evener. We are neurotic, stressed, unmotivated and it’s literally killing us. This class is for anyone that is serious about staying in their highest performing state.

*Warning: this instructor occasionally uses strong language. Viewer discretion advised*

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Jeremy Richardson

I've watched and participated in many webinars and online classes, and this was by far one of the best. The depth and breadth of information that Steven covers in this class is not only really important, but he structures it in a way that is engaging and most importantly: PRACTICAL. I'm coming out of this with a clear list of ways to improve my ability to get into Flow while accomplishing all of my creative endeavors. I highly recommend this to anyone who would like to do the same!


This is amazing. Steven is hitting so many pain point for me about reframing my fear. He is also an amazing presenter. Thank you, Steven! I am excited, I am excited, I am excited!

Isaac Freed

Utterly mind blowing. Wow. A few hours listening to Steven Kotler felt more like a few days. He has done his research, and offers so much practical application advice that I will review this material several times. Well worth it, and highly recommended. Thank you, Creative Live!