Falling Out of the Flow

There is huge personal power in being in our flow. So, what expectations, results or mental chatter gets in the way of being highly in our flow state? And more importantly, how do we become aware of our own thoughts and feelings that push us in and out of that flow?

June 8, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banner is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker. And Melissa Albert's JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
All right, well, it's a sore back recording a podcast, but we haven't done one in a couple of weeks. Yeah. So we might be a little I now feel like that a little bit out of out of flow, right? Like, like, I was gone. And then I was sick, and we just kind of hadn't had we haven't been in our regular cadence of creating content, right. And so like, here we are, like, Friday. Now we have to record the pod and get to, we get to record the pod. And but it's, it's like a little bit of a weird start, right? Because we we sometimes, like when we get out of this flow, it's hard to get back

Melissa Albers  0:58  
every time. Oh, my gosh, every time and I don't know why that is.

JJ Parker  1:04  
It's like, it's a good question. Why is that? Right? Because it feels like, like, there's I don't know. It's like, not super anxious, like, like, or like, do we like we've done 55 of these How can take you know, two week break? And coming back to recording a podcast, which is a fairly simple thing feel like so awkward.

Melissa Albers  1:27  
I know. And, and yeah, and there's no real there's, it's not fear or anxiety of not having what we need. Because we've always got backups for everything, because that's just how we roll. Yeah, it is something it's funny. Like when we get into our flow, consistently, we produce, produce, produce produce, and it's so fun. Yeah, awkward. We have so much fun in creation. And then if there's the littlest bump in the road, well, maybe not the littlest, but a bump in the road in which that flow gets off. It is like we suddenly forget how to do all of it. Yeah.

JJ Parker  2:04  
Right. And, like, the crazy, the crazy thing to me is like what I was actually feeling with only a two week gap, like this is a Yeah, relatively short amount of time, right? Yeah. Yeah. And everyone, I think everyone knows, like, the self awareness journey is like, kind of like yours. And my side thing, right? We we have other jobs, right? This is like our side hustle thing and just helping out people. But two weeks happens. And I'm like, ooh, are we still doing the software in this journey?

Melissa Albers  2:38  
Like, and, and remember, that happened to me a few months ago? Same thing, it was like, what? Oh, no. Oh, no. Like, we're not gonna do see how

JJ Parker  2:49  
falling apart? I don't like, oh, wait, no, it's only been two weeks. And we have like, no one's because, like, completely reasonable. reasons. So I think

Melissa Albers  3:00  
I think people I think people do do this, though. I think people put a lot of pressure on themselves in what they are producing. Like, even if it's fun, and it's creative. I think people do have a certain sense of their worth and, and their stability based on what they're making or what they're working on. I think that's a huge thing.

JJ Parker  3:21  
So what I was thinking about, I say about a couple of things, when, what just now was the cadence of our work, right? And how the cadence of our work affects our like, mood, right? Or thought patterns or feelings, right? I would say about that. And then I was thinking about how, when we're in partnership with someone, like you and I are with this project, how actually like the cadence of work, can sometimes Oh, not sometimes like, like, actually affects like, our relationship. Right? And how we think of each other as partners. Right,

Melissa Albers  4:04  
right. Mm hmm.

JJ Parker  4:06  
Which Yeah, yeah. And this is about, you know, we're talking about our our particular project here, but I think this applies to like, a lot of different activities in life, not just, you know, like, projects. This one.

Melissa Albers  4:19  
I do, too. I do, too. I think anything that someone is involved in their time is pretty consistently used in this in an effort of some sort. There's an emotional investment. Yeah, there's an emotional investment. And then when there's another person involved, like in a partnership or more people involved as in a group of people working on something, there's even more of an emotional investment. And I think that there's a, an expectation, we start to build expectation around it, right? Yeah.

JJ Parker  4:45  
All right. So let's dive into the cadence of work first, before we get like, stuck on some random tributary.

Melissa Albers  4:51  
You mean interested in something to be Terry. Okay, talk about the cadence.

JJ Parker  5:00  
So, for me, I like doing, like, I like shipping work, right? My thing is shipping. Like, me too all the time, like, all the time. And like, I think both of you and I, like do this a lot. It's the motto at my company, which is like, ship early ship often, which I, I push to extreme like we should ship our work when we're still a little bit embarrassed about its quality.

Melissa Albers  5:32  
Yeah, yeah. Well, obviously I'm in alignment with that look at the self awareness journey

JJ Parker  5:38  
is great. No, but this idea that we can always make it better. I'm like, super big writing, like, like, what's the smallest bit we can get done right now and ship it, get it out in the world, then we make it better later, right? This is sort of my, my work philosophy.

Melissa Albers  5:56  
Which, by the way, that work philosophy has helped me a lot because I've i Even though I like to do everything fast. And I like to to have a lot of stuff going all the time. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist. So it can cause me a lot of stress to ship. Often. If something's not perfect, I have to let that go. I have to consciously let that go. But you've helped me with that. Because you do that. You just like Nope. Let's just put it out there. Put it up. Let's just do it. Yeah,

JJ Parker  6:24  
it's good. I think where that comes from, it's got to be like arts. Great. I think it's like my art school training or something. Ship your crappy work right now? Because I do.

Melissa Albers  6:38  
Because it's.

JJ Parker  6:42  
Yeah, the idea that the other like, catch phrase around that is, like, perfect is the enemy of done.

Melissa Albers  6:52  
Yeah, right. Exactly.

JJ Parker  6:54  
But this idea that like, you know, fundamentally, I think people are creative. Like, yeah, pray all the time. I, we've talked about it before, like some people say that they're not creative people. But I, I totally disagree. Everybody is creative, super creative all the time. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  7:13  
We're creating our own realities all the time. I mean, it is as simple as creating our schedule is as deep as creating our entire realities. We're always,

JJ Parker  7:22  
always creating. So a big part of that is shipping work, right for most of us. And when we don't get to ship, our work. Our energy gets a little wonky.

Melissa Albers  7:36  
Yeah, right. Yep. Yep. You know, what I just realized. I had a, I had this thing had. So this we're talking about, we're talking about this today, because you went out of flow for a couple of weeks, right? And then we have been in the process of coming back. But this happened, the reverse. It was me a few months ago. Yeah, where something happened. I got out of sync. I was severely out of sync, but but I wasn't as aware as you are in this moment about being out of sync. And but this is interesting, though, because we got out of our cadence. And then what happened was, and I think we even talked about it on a pod. But I got really freaked out. Remember that? Yes. This is What? What?

JJ Parker  8:21  
It was all it was only like one of my favorite bands, which was the frickin book. Oh, god. Okay. Talk about work amnesia, like you completely forgot that whole traumatic event. Right, right.

Melissa Albers  8:38  
And the traumatic event that you're referring to is that I have been encouraged to write a book for years and decided, dang it. That's it. I'm going to write a book. And it needed to be eight chapters. And I got what, seven and a half done, and then just bailed. Yep.

JJ Parker  8:54  
Went down in fiery wreck. Oh, we decided we're never gonna write a book. But you're right, that that totally happened. And we got all of our flow again, together, right? Yeah, the project kind of got a little weird.

Melissa Albers  9:07  
Yeah, well, and you know, what else I'm also realizing is in partnership, so it becomes more complicated when there is a partnership involved with the workflow and work product. Because what happened in that first event is that I fell like down a huge hole. And then I got really freaked out that something terrible was going to happen because of my error. You know, in our partnership, like, oh my gosh, does this mean that this isn't going to happen anymore? Like, we can't keep building the self awareness journey? Like I got really freaked out about it. And I and, and, and you, you did too, because I was, okay, you know what I've learned since then. Even in this like, last two week period. You came back and you're like, okay, oh, this I don't, this isn't feeling good. Like we're now I'm out of sync. I didn't feel like that this time. I was like, oh, yeah, we've done this. It'll be okay. We just got to get back in our flow. We always do. Yeah, I had a different response about it this time, but the cadence of the work absolutely gives you bumps in the road of when you can really fall off a cliff. For us. I mean, all of that. Yeah. Yeah.

JJ Parker  10:21  
So probably for everybody listening, like, you know, we're using, obviously, our own example. Because it's, like, easy for us to talk about, but I see this happening at work, right with work brought with work projects amongst teams, right in my team's like, like, when they're shipping consistently when they're their work. You know, I say shipping. But I mean, we're a software company. We don't worry, I like completing work is what I mean. Yeah. When that is running smoothly, boy, it's like magic is happening, right? Yes. Like everyone's so good. Once clicked in, everyone's focused it everything is feels so good. And the the level of production goes like through the roof. Yeah, exactly. People will describe that state as like being like, being on fire being in the zone being in the flow, right? Yes. Yes. A lot of times, like you'll hear that analogy with, like a sports player, right? Like Michael Jordan is in the zone. Right? Plane? Yeah, well, yep. You can have your whole, you can have a whole team clicked into the zone. And when a whole team gets into the zone, it's like a really amazing place to be. Because that whole team produces so high. That it's like magic. I love it. Yeah, like keys to that, to me are consistent, consistent output. Clear expectations, right, really healthy team. Dynamics and relationships. Right. Yeah. And sort of like a cultural norm around this kind of like, high output situation.

Melissa Albers  12:06  
Right. But when but I think the key thing, the like, almost the most important thing in that is the person's energy is in alignment. Because even if you have a for example, if you have a high performing team, even one person that is not energetically or emotionally in the space that everyone else's can cause a huge ruckus, and derail all time, it can derail the whole thing. And it has to do with that person's energy and awareness, I think, and cultural fit. Like obviously, there's certain things like that those external things, but I really think being in the flow. And in the creative flow is much to do with your emotional energy being in alignment with what it is you're mentally and physically producing.

JJ Parker  12:58  
Definitely. So let's talk about the relationship parts of this then like, yeah, like I was saying earlier, when, when we took our little two week break here, I came back and was like, I got to the point where I was nearly like questioning, like our commitment together on this project, right, which seems like an overreaction has only two weeks. But it's illustrative of the power of like, Baton doubt, right, or it's the power of those feelings, and especially if you're not recognizing them, right. Luckily, I was able to recognize, right, okay, now, I got like, let me just get get some sense around this feeling. Because it doesn't, it's actually doesn't. This feeling doesn't, isn't truth, right?

Melissa Albers  13:52  
Yeah, it is. I think it is, though we do. I think, again, it has to do with our own personal expectations, I think we set ourselves up, we set ourselves up. Because when we're in the flow state, we know how much we can do. When we're not in the flow state. We minimize how difficult it is to get back into that flow, or we minimize the difficulty to produce when we're not in flow. And I think we tell ourselves stories, you know, that it really doesn't have much to do with being in the flow. Oh, no, this is just what we do. But I don't think that's true at all. I think that there is an energetic capacity to being in touch with our creativity and staying in that flow mode. And when we get derailed by something that is that requires vulnerability and courage to be able to face yourself and ask yourself some questions. You know, like ask yourself some questions about your feelings, understand where those feelings are coming from. And that's usually where most People don't want to spend any time at all, they just want to know just just ignore, go make something else ignore that, like,

JJ Parker  15:05  
just go make something out, like get busy. Yeah, like distract, like, just like distract yourself with with other work or other projects or other things to do. So you're saying,

Melissa Albers  15:16  
and yeah, and it's never your best work when you do that. That's the thing, right? It's never your best work. So I don't know. I mean, it would be interesting. Like, if you just look at other things in your life in which that same thing applies where you're in a flow of something, it could be anything in which your hat like you play tennis, you know, you get in a flow of playing tennis all the time. And you play doubles. So you have four people that are, you know, playing consistently. And then all of a sudden, somebody isn't because they have a meeting in the morning, or whatever. Well, and

JJ Parker  15:47  
yeah, so this is the thing that I'm super interested in. But we're getting here. And I'd like to use, like you and I as an example. But again, it applies to like, all sorts of like, partnerships, or like, creation with people, right? Yeah. Is Like, like, if you only use a tennis example, right, like playing singles, it's just like you, right? And it's mostly you against yourself in an activity like that, right. And, but when you are playing a team sport, or you're, you're doing group work at, you know, school or at, at the office, or you're even doing projects at home, together, like with your family or your spouse, right? This to me is like, group co creation, right? And, like, single effort creation, I feel like, there's such a different dynamic when it's like a group creation. Right? And yeah, like what we're talking, you know, we spent a lot of time, I think, in the software, and certainly like, talking about things as an individual, right. And obviously, a lot of I mean, all of our reality is away, we're experiencing that, right. So obviously, we're gonna spend a lot of time in this, like, singular focus. But when it comes to creativity, so much of our creativity, creative activities are with other people. So like you said, like, one person with the wrong energy throws off the whole mix. Right? So if I come into this podcast with the wrong energy, you and I can't actually do our do our thing. It's it just right will flop, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I see that with, again, with work projects all the time. Like, why did a project flop? Well, a lot of times, it's because of it, the energy of the people wasn't just wasn't right. And so what do you think? What do we do about that? Like, how do we unpack that a little bit?

Melissa Albers  17:58  
Well, I was just gonna go to a place. I just this the word expectation just keeps coming up for me right now. Our expectation of ourselves in those group dynamics, but also the expectation that we place on everyone else around us? How do you think that has to come into play with this idea that if someone if someone isn't in alignment with the team, how, how that plays out? And how do expectations come into play with that as well? You know, if I have an expectation that everyone on my team is going to act a certain way? And then they don't? Yeah, and then what does that do to my energy and my feeling about the team? Yeah. Right. Isn't that interesting? No,

JJ Parker  18:47  
you're, you're onto it right there. Because what I was just thinking about, was, like, and it's like, if I come into a team, and I am not, like, confident, maybe like, like, super confident in my ability. Yeah. Like, I'll come in with the wrong energy. Or if I sent someone's in, in a project, and like, you know, they, they are anxious for some reason about something. Yep. Like, it'll throw the whole thing off. And it's like, actually just won't work. And yes, I'm, what I really want to tell them is just like, calm down, lean in, it'll be fine. Like, you know what I mean? There's like, let go of all of that. But I feel like yeah, to be in pure creation. You have to like, let go of those anxieties, and just really be in the moment, but it's so hard for people to let

Melissa Albers  19:45  
go. Mm hmm. Because they have expectations. They have expectations about the outcome. They have expectations about how they will be in the outcome. Whether they want to hide whether they want to take credit. Whether they're proud of the people that are around them, whether they're afraid of the people that are around them, and that all hinders, or, or enhances our ability to create and to create a flow, and to create a group flow,

JJ Parker  20:15  
and to really get into the state that we all really want to be in, which is like, right, centered self in the moments, no anxiety, just right. Happiness, right.

Melissa Albers  20:28  
Yeah, you know, it is interesting, too, as you talk about when you have an idea, and you go into a group, and you maybe don't have the right energy, like you and I had a lot of experience for a while where we were going and pitching to investors. Yeah, you remember that?

JJ Parker  20:46  
Talk about anxiety? Oh, my God. Yeah, there's so yes, wrapped around the axle on those

Melissa Albers  20:52  
things. But think about how much work we put into the investor deck. How much work we put into the presentation, how much work we put into the product that we were representing how proud we were of that, and yet, we had so much fear about presenting to these investors, which kicks out and, uh, sorry, yeah.

JJ Parker  21:16  
Right. Isn't that the thing? Like, if I could go, you know, this, everyone says this all the time, right? Like, if I could go back and redo those pitches with Yes, like a, like, like an attachment to the result? Like, I don't care about the result, don't care, you'd say yes or no. So like, give this thing and like my most, like, passionate way possible. I is very possible, we would have had a different result. I hit Yeah, laugh It's not funny.

Melissa Albers  21:47  
Oh, it was so dramatic. A couple of those. Oh, my gosh, I was I was just ALRIGHT, in full transparency. What I was actually visualizing is, is the is the pitch that we did that went so horribly wrong, that we went right down the elevator and found the lobby bar, this building. Just work.

JJ Parker  22:11  
Oh, good times? Well, I think it's what we're talking about like that the expectation around our work is so critical to us being in our authentic self and in our centered state. Right. And yeah, and, in, in the in, especially in co creation, if you can't get the team, even if it's a team have to sort of align and get the expectations set and really start releasing those expectations. And that anxiety, the work suffers, right, or actually might not even happen.

Melissa Albers  22:58  
Right? Right. I was just gonna say that I was gonna say, I think it's also a level of honesty, right? It's, it's about trusting yourself enough to be honest with yourself. And if you're trying to force something, and it doesn't feel right, and everything on the outside logically looks like it should be fine. But it's not. You are still going to not be able to produce your best work. Yeah. Because it's not right for you. Somehow it's not right. And that's the self deception piece. I think you go we go into these places where we tell ourselves stories, because it's not popular, to be honest with how we're feeling at the time. And especially like in a partnership like you and I that's a 5050 partnership, it's really important that both of us feel good about whatever we're doing, because otherwise the work product will just like you said, it suffers. But I think the way around that is not to work harder. It's not to change the product a little bit. It's to sit and say what is happening right now, emotionally or mentally or inside of me that I just don't feel in alignment with this right now. Is it just me feeling squirrely? Am I tired? Do I need a break? Is this just not quite right? And just asking yourself some of those questions?

JJ Parker  24:04  
Yeah, no, that's, that's really good. I actually, I was like, we just on boarded a handful of people here at my company. And like everyone, I always try to do like a sit down with, like, on their first day. And I talk about, like, my view of mental health in our company. Where like, I tell everybody, like, I use like these words, which I probably need to get better at exploiting. So now. I'm going to send everybody this podcast and I can listen to this. But I say hey, some days when you come to work, like you're just not gonna be feeling it. And that's okay. And I just want you to take that day off. Like don't work that day. The day you're not feeling it is the day I don't want you to work. Just go. Go. Figure it out. Come back the next day. super energized. Right. Yeah. And people are Like, what are you talking about? Like, don't show up to work if I'm not, quote, feeling it, you know, but I know the I know the power of this, that not having the energy aligned. Right. Yeah. And

Melissa Albers  25:12  
being in the flow and the power of being in the flow because

JJ Parker  25:14  
that person, even well intentioned, right, I can, like, totally disrupt the energy of the team and like, take down the entire team's productivity. Yeah. Right. And I'd rather the individual get get get their energy and their their mental state, you know, in in a better spot and then come back and fully contribute. Yeah, right. Yeah. Now. Yeah. I don't know that. Other businesses take that approach?

Melissa Albers  25:45  
No, no, I don't think that that's a common approach, although

JJ Parker  25:49  
maybe hopefully, common. Like, yeah, some of this probably is in Yeah, no, there's there's probably not.

Melissa Albers  25:57  
Right. And I think what normally happens is it becomes more of a reactive state, not a proactive edict. It becomes a reactive Oh, you're really stressed out, you should take the day off. It usually turns into something like that, which isn't as powerful. We want to get ahead of it. Yeah, we want to get out ahead of it.

JJ Parker  26:16  
Well, I think this is interesting. This podcast helped. definitely helped me get back in the flow of the self awareness journey.

Melissa Albers  26:27  
Well, that's good. I think it's I think it's a I think it's really normal. We all do that. We all go through periods where we're feeling so good, and just creating like crazy. And then we all go through periods where, I don't know it's like a recalibration needs to happen. And I don't think we should be hard on ourselves. When we do that. I think we should give ourselves a break. Yeah, you know,

JJ Parker  26:49  
yeah, I agree. I think a lot of life's problems is because we're too hard on ourselves,

Melissa Albers  26:57  
either. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast safe. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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