My girlfriend and I spent this past Saturday hiking Chautauqua Park in Boulder, CO. It is such a beautiful location with so many vistas to see, nooks to snack in, rocks to climb and people to chat up. This was my second time hiking this park, the first time being with her and her two little ones. Hiking with kids is a much different experience than going alone or with another adult. Kids have little legs that get tired easily and frequently, snack time is a must and every dog within a 5-mile radius instinctively jumps on them knocking them in the mud. Luckily, this time it was just her and I.
We schedule these one day-outings into our weekly routine. Once a week, we switch gears from writing articles, creating videos, and coaching others to rejuvenating and regenerating ourselves in the presence of nature. Without fail, we end up either coaching each other, coming up with new marketing ideas, or meeting people along the way that love our coaching services. Which brings me to a question someone recently asked me at an independent coffee shop, “Do you have any other interests besides coaching and healing?”
With a big stupid smile I asked, “Why do you think I chose coaching and healing as my career path?” The look on his face said this was the first time ever, his question was answered with a question. He nodded his head and said, “Oh, that makes perfect sense. You chose coaching and healing because they ARE your interests.”
He was really asking, “How can you make money doing the things you most enjoy?” He saw making money and enjoying what I did for money, as complete polar opposites. Why? Apparently no one else in the world is making money doing what they enjoy. I have 12 years of making money for the sake of making money. During those times I was a miserable, angry, depressed little man who was still broke.
Ever get the question, “If money was no longer an issue, what would you be doing?” One person could answer, “Shit, I’d quit tomorrow, tell me boss to shove it and travel the world in a sailboat.” Traveling the world is awesome but would that necessarily bring that person into a flow state? Maybe that person has been conditioned to believe traveling the world would bring him unlimited happiness and flow states. Or it could cause him tremendous stress and anxiety.
Is there a only two choices between being in flow and broke or being miserable and making millions?
I read, “The Millionaire Fastlane” by MJ DeMarco a couple years back to get clarity on that question. BTW, still one of the best business books I have ever read. MJ makes the case that instead of doing what you love or enjoy for pay, you absolutely must fill a need in the marketplace regardless if you love filling that need or not.
I say if being a personal trainer, massage therapist, painter, musician or life coach puts you in a state of flow, then do it. “But what if the marketplace doesn’t want what I’m offering?” MJ says that people who are ‘doing what they love’ are service professionals entering a field with low barrier to entry, high competition, high turnover and non-scalable. Also the market size is smaller because of the perception that only rich people can afford massages, personal training, original artwork or life coaching. You end up choosing a passion with high competition and small profits.
Here’s where I disagree with MJ.
The most precious resource you will ever have is your time. Its finite and can be taken away at any moment. Each and every day you have 24 hours at your disposal. How do you want to spend them? You can spend 40 hours or more a week in a profession, business, activities and opportunities that enliven and put you in flow states or you can spend 40 hours or more a week on meaningless work, activities and situations that put you in a state of boredom, numbness, or anxiety. The choice is yours.
Yes, filling a need in the marketplace to make money is essential. Yet I believe filling that need to make money should be secondary to what puts you in flow. If being a massage therapist, personal trainer, life coach, painter, or musician puts you in a high state of flow then do it. Yes, to be financially successful requires the application of skillsets outside of your ‘zone of genius’ such as marketing, sales, administration, web design, niche branding, product creation, public speaking, etc. The goal should be to outsource or delegate as much as possible so you can keep your focus on activities that keep you in flow.
Being in flow attracts people, opportunities, and situations that attract more flow. Being out-of-flow attracts people, circumstances, and situations that attract being out-of-flow. Simple.
Writing articles, creating videos, and coaching people are my flow states. I am not a huge fan of website design. I feel it takes me out of flow and weakens my ability to attract the people and opportunities I want. Therefore, I outsource my web design to an Indian virtual assistant who is in flow doing that work. Win for me. Win for my virtual assistant. Win for my clients.
Have you thought about what activities bring you in flow? Writing, singing, painting, coaching, public speaking, hiking, martial arts, building a business, selling a business? Find people, activities, and opportunities in your life that enable flow and engage with them as often as possible. Next, find people, activities, and situations in your life that take you out of flow and disengage from or delegate to them. Your time is unbelievably precious and limited. I never really understood the value of time until operating my own coaching business.
Let me finish the story about our hike through Chautauqua Park.
The last mile of the hike, we chose to run down a dirt trail on the side of the mountain. Of course, we couldn’t just run down the mountain and call it a day. Instead we had to create an inspirational video during the run which we later spent an hour critiquing and thinking of ways of how it could have been better.
Right before reaching the bottom of the mountain we noticed an unusual event.
An artist brilliantly set up her easel right at the entry point to the trail so that all people coming and going would see her beautiful work. Some people walked by without notice while others stopped to ask questions or make a quick comment about her work. I’m always seeking new and interesting ways to connect with people and add value, so I stopped to talk. I wanted to inquire about the painting but more importantly, about the painter. I was in awe of her flow state. Her brush strokes effortlessly moved across the canvas, beautifully re-creating the very mountain we had just run down.
She was painting from flow and that is what inspires. It inspired me and no doubt, inspires the people who commission her work. Of course being an artist, of any kind, has it challenges but how many of us can say we have regular flow states that reignites our imaginations and realigns us with our divine selves? Watching her in flow made it easier for me to access my flow. I was not blessed with artistic ability instead God blessed me with numerous other ways to access flow. And you are no different.
Maybe your flow state has nothing to do with painting or dancing or music or coaching. My teacher, Grandmaster Choa Kok Sui, has said, “Some people’s yoga (union with the higher self) is through their business.” Certain businessmen achieve flow even divine union, during the process of building and expanding their business. Think Steve Jobs. Think Bill Gates. Think Tony Hsieh. Think Warren Buffet. These men are building their empires from flow. Their flow state attracts the people, activities, and opportunities required to grow and expand their interests and influence. Do you feel money is their inspiration? Or could it be more about who they are being in the process of making that money?
Do you feel in your heart of hearts that your purpose in life is to wake up day after day uninspired? Are you working a job or business that either bores you to tears or chases you to insanity for 40 hours a week?
Yes, I get it. You have bills, obligations, commitments and promises to fulfill. Maybe you spent a decade and $250,000 on your education to become a lawyer, doctor, accountant or engineer. Maybe you feel it would reveal a character flaw to switch careers or lose the status that profession represents. Maybe so, but at what cost? Those are all noble professions with many dedicated and passionate people. Are you one of them? Are you in flow being a lawyer, doctor, accountant or engineer or are you not?
There is a Chinese proverb that states, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Again, time is your most precious resource.
Focus on people, activities and opportunities that enable you to be in flow as often as possible. Being in flow is the expression of your greatest gifts and talents which the world would gladly pay you for because through you, they get to taste their own greatest gifts and talents.