Overview of the Flow Cycle
We are now moving into the flow cycle itself the four stages of flow. We're gonna start with the first stage which is known as struggle. And kind of before we jump into the flow cycle, I wanna talk a little bit about the importance of the flow cycle. So I said earlier that creative careers are difficult they're hard. When I, so I dropped out of college for a while and ran around the country and ended up at the San Francisco Art Institute. I wanted to become a performance and video artist, which was not a very good idea. I think I decided that artists got laid more than writers and that was the switch. It was a long time ago, I was very young. That said, when I went to the San Francisco Art Institute, first day, first class was a neon sculptor named Cork Marcheski. Fantastic guy, fantastic teacher. And we walked in and there were probably 50 people in the class and he said, "Okay, I'm gonna just start out with the good news, "statistically, five years from now, ".01% of you will be work...
ing in a creative field, "not in your chosen creative field, "actually, in any creative field." So literally, there were 50 people in the class, half of us, half of one of us, was gonna actually get to be creative for a living, statistically. And he said, "You know, the one thing "that really distinguishes creatives is, "and the ones who are successful, "is when they wake up in the morning, "they don't know how to do anything else but be creative." And I remember sitting in the class thinking, shit, I know how to build a house, I've worked construction, I was a professional magician, did birthday parties and bar mitzvahs and weddings and all that. I was like crap, I know how to do too many things. That's not what he was talking about actually. What he was talking about is when you wake up in the morning, if you are not compelled to do something creative, you're not doing that, you're not breathing. That was what he meant. Now, that said, I do think that's a fundamental characteristic of a creative. That when you wake up, you have to do your thing. You're compelled to do that thing. I think the creatives that actually have careers, who actually end up being successful at it, are creatives who understand the flow cycle. Mastering this, in all of my years of teaching flow and all of my years of working on creativity, an understanding of the four stages of the flow cycle, where you are and where you need to go next and how to behave inside each of those stages, is the single most important thing I can teach you. So really quickly, 'cause we're gonna go deep into them, but I just wanna walk you through it. I also wanna say, the thing about the flow cycle, is there's different neurobiologies you can see underneath different stages. So about once a month, somebody comes up to me and they're like oh my God man, you gotta study me, I'm in flow all the time. And I used to not tell them the truth. I used to be like oh okay that's really interesting. Now I'm just kind of honest about it, I'm like you know that's interesting, 'cause we have a word for that. We actually call that schizophrenia. Nobody gets to live in flow. Does not happen. You cannot be in a flow state all the time. And the reason you cannot be in a flow state all the time is you have to move through all four stages of the cycle to get back into flow. And a number of these stages really unflowy. Not fun in the way that flow is fun.