Power of flowWhen do you feel powerful? What makes you feel indestructible? What makes you halt time?

As with machines, we are only able to process a certain amount of information at each moment, our processing resources are finite. If you devote all your energy to a certain activity, your body has no resources left to monitor other things such as if you are hungry or not, if you are tired or not. Hunger no longer exists, fatigue is gone and time halted, you are completely immersed in a heady and powerful state that Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called state of flow.

How can you be in a state of flow, being productive, have brilliant ideas and make a difference if someone is telling you what you can or cannot do and, often, even taking the credit for what you accomplish? We associate power to a person who exercises influence over others. Someone is powerful when other people depend on him/her for permission, consent or approval. The person has the power, authority.

However, after the attack of September 11, a team of psychologists at Harvard University studied the American Secret Intelligence Service to find out what makes an effective service unit and the results were discussed in a report published by McKinsey. Before starting talking to participants, the researchers developed a list of possibilities for research that included: roles and responsibilities defined, clear mission, human resources as well dimensioned, strong leadership etc. However, as the research progressed, they realized that the critical factor was not even on the list they had prepared: it was how much help a person gave another, teaching, mentoring, doing coaching and collaborating when requested.

It is a mistake to think of the leader as one who has the strength, the leader is one who transmits, who circulates or “flow” energy. The question is not so much the flow of power as the power flow.

It is one thing to have power, but to feel yourself powerful is something else. When do you feel powerful? What makes you feel indestructible? What makes you halt time? Find it and you will find your personal power, the power to be in flow; share it and you will find the flow of power.