How to Anticipate Your Triggers to Stay in Flow

Following our exploration of the Flow Blueprint and the science behind the euphoria of being in the moment, it’s time to delve deeper into the factors that can disrupt this state. 

How can we remain consistently in Flow, ensuring peak performance? 

The answer lies in anticipating the triggers that divert us from our optimal state.

During my early days as an athlete and later in my sales job, I was often caught off-guard by unforeseen disruptions that took me out of my groove. 

I distinctly remember one particular hockey game when I was playing in Cinncinatti, where, instead of feeling in control of the puck, it felt like I was chasing shadows on the rink. Every pass, every move felt misaligned.

The harmony that usually accompanied my gameplay was replaced by a fear of failure, which I later recognised as the “white mist.”

 

 

Similarly, in a high-stakes negotiation for a pivotal sales deal, I second-guessed every phrase and pitch instead of confidently pushing for a close. 

That same mist clouded my judgment, especially the daunting “white mist,” which made my thoughts foggy and my responses hesitant. It felt like walking through a thick cloud, blindfolded, with no sense of direction.

Over time, and after considerable reflection, I understood that these weren’t just random occurrences. Specific triggers—be it the pressure from the opposing team, a challenging question from a client, or even the gravity of the situation—provoked the mist. 

In its natural protective mode, my brain would send out an SOS, activating my amygdala and leading me into a state of high alert. 

This “amygdala hijack,” as I later learned it was termed, was the antithesis of the Flow, pushing me further from my optimal state.

Once I pinpointed these triggers, I developed a personal technique to counteract them. In the midst of a game or a negotiation, whenever I sensed the approaching mist, I would take a deep, deliberate breath through my nose, getting air deep in my lower stomach. 

This simple act—inhaling deeply, holding, then exhaling—served as a reset button, disarming the amygdala hijack, engaging my parasympathetic nervous system and allowing me to navigate through the mist with newfound clarity and calmness.

Recognising my triggers wasn’t just about regaining control but also harnessing that control to drive peak performance. 

It was a revelation that underscored a crucial lesson: the journey to excellence isn’t merely about honing skills or amplifying strengths—it’s equally about understanding vulnerabilities and transforming them into allies.

Anticipate Your Triggers to Stay in Flow

Our brain is a marvel, governing our thoughts and influencing our peak performance. To harness its full potential, especially in the context of Flow and peak performance, it’s essential to understand and manage what jolts us out of our optimal state. Consider how your shadow self is driving the behaviour of your ego.

Check out my blog on ego states HERE

 

The Brain, Flow, and Performance

Over the last two decades, while we’ve only scratched the surface of brain research, we have gained insights into how it affects our performance across various spheres. As a CEO or aspiring CEO, your ability to stay in the Flow is influenced by your brain’s responses to different triggers.

Impact of Mental States on Effective Communication

Entering the “fight or flight” mode during high-pressure scenarios, like a keynote speech, can deter you from your Flow. When trapped in this response, you may be overwhelmed by anxiety or overly aggressive. 

However, mastering dropping into Flow means having a clear vision and connecting authentically with your audience, free from these mental barriers.

Takeaway: Reflect on your last presentation or meeting. Were there moments you felt out of sync or not “in the zone”? Identify them and explore the possible triggers.

Recognising Your Personal Triggers

Everyone has triggers—situations or stimuli that push them out of their Flow. It’s vital to pinpoint these. Is it a particular colleague, a type of conversation, or maybe an unexpected challenge? By proactively anticipating these triggers, you can equip yourself to manage them better, ensuring that you stay centred and in the Flow.

The Downside of Over-Excitement

A rush of success can sometimes be a double-edged sword. The dopamine hit we get can lead us to take more risks, deviating from the systems and processes that brought success in the first place. Recognising this pattern can help you maintain a balanced approach, keeping you in a consistent Flow state.

Takeaway: Think of a time when a sudden success led you to alter your approach or strategy. How did it pan out?

Consistency Over Sporadic Success

The best performers exhibit consistent peak performance, whether in sports or business. Teams or individuals who spike early often lose their Flow, leading to complacency. Sticking to proven systems and focusing on the process can ensure a more sustainable peak performance.

Call to Action

Anticipating triggers is about self-awareness and consistently operating at peak performance. As you journey through understanding your triggers, remember that staying in Flow is a continuous process of learning and adapting. 

I’d love to hear about your identified triggers and how you manage them to maintain your Flow.