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Creating Flow and Meaningful Work

One of my CEO executive coaching clients is working with his executive leadership team to create an organizational culture that unleashes employees’ intrinsic motivation and a state of flow. I am coaching him to become more effective at appealing to employees’ intrinsic motivation and core values, and helping leaders at all levels of the organization become more fully engaged in creating a culture that supports flow.

The CEO knows that for the organization to thrive depends on creating an organizational culture and climate that nourishes constant innovation. Human Resources is partnering with me in supporting senior leaders to motivate people by building authentic relationships. Our current executive coaching and leadership consulting work is also focused on helping leaders throughout the organization increase their ability to motivate team members by tapping into their purpose and values.

The CEO and his senior leadership team members are each heading up two strategic initiatives to energize growth and increase revenues. The goals are clear and tap into each leader’s purpose and desire to pursue meaningful work. In our executive coaching meetings, company leaders are reporting a significant increase in their energy, happiness and business results.

Each senior leader has autonomy over what they’re doing and how they do it, including choosing their time, tasks, team and techniques. They have the opportunity to master their work and make progress through deliberate practice. The executives have a sense of purpose in their work — to something higher and beyond their job, salary and company. They are empowering their direct reports and all company employees with the same opportunities and creative mindset.

"The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile." ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow, 1990, p. 3)

Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that people find genuine satisfaction during a state of consciousness called “Flow”. In this state they are completely absorbed in an activity, especially an activity that involves their creative abilities. During this "optimal experience" they feel "strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities."

Similar to the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow, Csikszentmihalyi found that happiness does not happen automatically. Rather happiness is created in a person setting challenges that are neither too demanding nor too simple for ones abilities.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the pioneers of the scientific study of happiness. He was born in Hungary in 1934 and, like many of his contemporaries, was affected by World War II in ways that deeply affected his future. During his childhood, he was put in an Italian prison. It was here, amid the misery of loss of family and the bitterness of war, that he had his first inkling of his seminal work in the area of flow.

Later during a trip to Switzerland, Csikszentmihalyi heard Carl Jung speak sparking an interest in psychology. As an artist who had dabbled in painting himself, Csikszentmihalyi started his initial psychological observations and studies on artists. He noted that the act of creating seemed at times more important than the finished work itself and he was fascinated by what he called the “flow” state, in which the person is completely immersed in an activity with intense focus and creative engagement. His life’s work became to scientifically identify the different elements involved in achieving such a state.

The main thesis of Csikszentmihalyi’s most popular book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990), is that happiness is not a fixed state but can be developed as we learn to achieve flow in our lives. The key aspect to flow is control: in the flow-like state, we exercise control over the contents of our consciousness rather than allowing ourselves to be passively determined by external forces. 
Cziksentmihalyi defines flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter".

As an executive coach, I strive to help people achieve greater satisfaction at work utilizing Cziksentmihalyi’s research to inform our coaching conversations. I utilize the following eight characteristics to help leaders reflect on activities that will produce the flow like state and the resulting increase in work satisfaction:   

1. There are clear goals every step of the way.

2. There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.

3. There is a balance between challenges and skills.

4. Action and awareness are merged.

5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.

6. There is no worry of failure.

7. Self-consciousness disappears.

8. The sense of time becomes distorted.

Leaders can ask themselves, “what activities do I engage in that create these flow characteristics? How can I engage in more of these rewarding activities at work and when will I do it?  If I am not experiencing “flow”, what can I do and when will I do it, to manifest the flow state within?”

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders create a state of flow? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to build a company culture built on trust? Transformational leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. We help build coaching cultures of positive engagement.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Advisor to Executive Leadership Teams
 Emotional Intelligence & Mindful Leadership Workplace Expert

I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture.

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded rare "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development. Alan Weiss, Ph.D., President, Summit Consulting Group

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company.  Mindful leadership flows from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Forbes and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, and more stress resiliency helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible. 

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

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