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走进巅峰工作状态背后的科学

2014-03-25    来源:财富网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Know that sensation when you're working out or cranking on a project, and time starts to pass quickly, distractions melt away, and you feel like you're in the zone?
有没有体验过这样一种感觉:当你正在从事或启动一个项目时,时间开始飞逝,杂念迅速消融,你觉得你正处于巅峰状态?

It's a real biological process, with a large and growing body of research dedicated to figuring it out what makes it work.
这是一个真正的生物学进程,为数众多且数量还在增长的研究机构正在设法搞清楚这种状态的形成机理。

The concept is called flow, a term popularized in the 1990s by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (Bill Clinton is reportedly a fan.) In a new book called The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, journalist Steven Kotler takes on the latest research on flow through the lens of action and adventure athletics. Kotler writes primarily about flow in high-stakes sports like surfing -- where focus and concentration can be the difference between a tubular ride and a watery death -- but the concept could also have big implications for the business world. Kotler spoke to Fortune about the science behind flow, its potential to boost workplace productivity, and how to get yourself in the zone.
这个概念被称为“心流”(flow),一个由心理学家米哈里•米哈伊普在上世纪90年代普及开来的术语。(据说美国前总统比尔•克林顿是他的粉丝。)在一本名为《超人的崛起:解读人类终极效能的科学》(The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance)的新书中,记者史蒂芬•科特勒透过极限和冒险运动的视角为我们呈现了心流领域的最新研究成果。科特勒主要探讨从事高风险运动时的心流活动——比如冲浪,你究竟是一飞冲天还是跌入水中,关键取决于你能否保持专注度和注意力——但这个概念也有可能对商业世界产生重大影响。近日接受《财富》杂志(Fortune)专访时,科特勒畅谈了心流背后的科学,它推动职场生产力的潜力,以及如何让你进入巅峰状态等问题。

Edited excerpts of the conversation follow.
下面是这次采访的摘要:

Fortune: Why study flow?
《财富》:你为什么要研究心流?

Steven Kotler: When I was 30 years old I got very, very sick. I spent three years in bed. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with me. It was surfing and flow states that brought me back to health.
史蒂芬•科特勒:30岁时,我得了一场重病,卧床3年。医生们不知道我究竟是哪里出了问题。正是冲浪和心流状态让我恢复了健康。

I thought I was losing my mind because I kept having these quasi-mystical experiences out in the waves, and I was a science writer, and I don't have quasi-mystical experiences. In the beginning I thought, What the hell is going on with me? What I learned later is that the neurochemical experiences produced during flow all boost the immune system and reset the nervous system, which is why it helped with an autoimmune condition, and which explained my otherworldly sensations.
我原以为我精神错乱了,因为我在冲浪时不停地产生这些准神秘色彩的体验。我是一位科普作家,以前从来没有过这种感受。开始的时候,我一直在想,我到底是怎么回事啊?我后来才知道,心流过程产生的神经化学物质可以促进免疫系统,重置神经系统。这就是它为什么有助于形成一种自身免疫性状态,也是让我产生超凡脱俗之感的原因所在。

The difference was amazing. And I started to realize that the same thing that took me from really sub-optimal -- I was functional for like 10% of the time -- to 80% functional after six months of surfing in frequent flow states, is something that could take somebody who's at normal to higher and higher levels.
前后的差异令人惊叹。我开始意识到,帮助我将身体机能正常运作的时间比重从10%(真正的次优级别)提升至80%(这是6个月的冲浪,频繁体验心流状态的成果)的事物,也能够把一个正常人的身体机能提升到越来越高的水平。

Can you define flow?
你能给心流下个定义吗?

Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best. Here's what you need to know: Flow is a spectrum of experience, like any emotion. There are 10 conditions that describe flow psychology, and they include concentration, the loss of self, and the dilation of time -- or when everything slows down or speeds up. You can be in "micro-flow," where there's only a couple of those things, or you can be in "macro-flow."
心流是意识的一种最佳状态。在这种状态下,我们的感受和表现都处于峰值。你需要了解下面这些知识:像任何情绪一样,心流是一连串体验。要形成心流,需要10个条件,其中包括专注,自我意识消失,时间的扩张,或者当一切都减慢或加速的时候。你可以处在“微流”状态(在这种状态下,你只具备这些条件中的少数几个),或者你可以处于“宏流”状态。

When we talk about people at work getting into flow, they're usually getting into micro-flow. If you've ever lost an afternoon to a great conversation, or gotten so sucked into a work project when everything else goes away, that's flow. The experience goes from there up to these sort of quasi-mystical experiences.
当我们说某人在工作时进入心流状态,他或她通常进入的是微流状态。如果你不知不觉地跟某人非常尽兴地谈了一下午,或者心无旁骛地从事一个工作项目,仿佛其他一切都消失了,那就是心流。你的感受从那里提升至这些带有准神秘色彩的体验。

And this is a clinically measurable, physical process?
那么,这是一种可以在临床上测量的物理过程吗?

Yes. Flow research started probably in the 1800s. What has happened in the last couple years is that we've gotten very good at measuring the neurobiology. That's partially because George Bush declared the '90s the "Decade of the Brain," and money flooded into neuroscience.
是的。心流研究或许从19世纪就开始了。过去这么多年的主要成果是,我们已经非常擅于测量神经生物学。部分原因在于,乔治•布什宣称20世纪90年代是“大脑的十年”,大量金钱随后涌入神经科学研究领域。

So for example, when it feels like your sense of time slows down or speeds up, and your sense of self vanishes -- those sound like new-agey sensations. But we know now that what actually goes on in the brain is something called transient hypofrontality. Transient means temporary, hypo is the opposite of hyper -- it means to slow down or deactivate. And frontality is your prefrontal cortex; it's the part of your brain that houses all your higher executive function.
举例来说,当你的时间感减慢或加快,你的自我意识消失(这些听起来就像是身处新纪元的感受),你过去不知道这是怎么回事。但我们现在知道,你的大脑其实正处于一种被称为“瞬时脑前额叶功能低下”(transient hypofrontality)的状态。瞬时意味着这种状态是暂时的,低下(hypo)是超高(hyper)的反面——它意味着放慢、甚至完全停止。Frontality指你的前额叶皮层;作为大脑的一部分,它容纳了所有更高级别的执行功能。

So the old idea about optimal performance is, "Oh, we only use 5% of our brain, and flow must be all of our brain functioning at a maximal level." Turns out that's totally backwards. In flow, huge portions of your prefrontal cortex are turning off. Parts of it start to wink out so you can no longer separate past from present from future. Why does your sense of self vanish? The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that houses your inner critic -- that voice of doubt and disparagement that's always there -- it shuts off in flow.
关于最佳表现的旧观念是:“哦,我们只使用了大脑的5%,心流肯定是指大脑的所有功能都处在最高水平。”事实证明,这种看法完全过时了。处在心流状态下时,前额叶皮层的相当大一部分正在关闭,开始终止运行,于是你就再也无法分清过去、现在和未来。为什么你的自我意识消失了?那是因为,在心流过程中,存储你内心的批评家(即总是在那里的质疑声和贬低声)的背外侧前额叶皮层关闭了。

And this concept of becoming one with everything? You hear surfers talk about, "Oh I was one with the wave," and it sounds like absolute nonsense. No, it turns out there's a part of your brain called the right parietal lobe that helps you figure out where you are in space. It helps us separate self from other. In deep flow states, energy goes elsewhere and the right parietal lobe shuts down. So, from a neurological perspective, at that point the brain actually does believe it's one with everything.
那么,这个概念是不是指“与万物合一”?你听到一些冲浪者说,“哦,我与浪涛融为一体了,”这听起来就像是废话。不,事实证明,你的大脑中有一个被称为右顶叶的部分,它正在帮助你搞清楚你处于空间的何处。它帮助我们区分自我和外在事物。在深度心流状态下,能量流向其他地方,右顶叶关闭。所以,从神经系统的角度来看,在这一时点,大脑确实认为自己与万物合一了。

What good is all this in the business world?
所有这一切对商业世界有什么好处?

A study conducted by McKinsey found that the average person spends about 5% of working hours in flow. But if you could increase that to 20%, they estimate that overall workplace productivity would double. That's incredible. That's a crazy statistic.
麦肯锡公司(McKinsey)的一项研究发现,普通人在大约5%的工作时间内处于心流状态。但如果你能够将这个比重提高至20%,他们预测称整个工作场所的生产力将翻一番。真是难以置信。这是一个非常疯狂的统计数字。

There are 15 flow triggers that are covered in The Rise of Superman. For example, you want a very specific challenge-to-skills ratio. The challenge needs to be 4% greater than the skills you bring to the table. We took that number and ran with it, and tried to test it in various scenarios, and we have found it's very effective.
《超人的崛起》介绍了15种心流触发器。比如,你想要一个非常明确的挑战技能比。挑战需要比你能够拿出来的技能高出4%。我们接受这个数字,用它运行,同时尝试着在各种情况下对它进行测试,我们发现这样做非常有效。

A rich environment is another trigger. A rich environment is a fancy way of saying lots of novelty, lots of complexity, and lots of unpredictability. Google (GOOG) is great at this. They talk about 10x improvement and not 10% improvement. When you're asking for 10x improvement, you're throwing out all the existing assumptions, and you have to start radically new. You're massively increasing the amount of novelty, complexity, and unpredictability in your employees' work life.
丰富的环境是另一个触发器。丰富的环境是一种别致的说法,意指大量的新奇感,复杂性和不可预测性。谷歌公司(Google)是这方面的高手。他们往往追求绩效的10倍改善,而不是提高10%。当你要求10倍的改善时,你就需要扔掉现有的所有假设,你必须得开始采用全新的方式。你需要大幅增加员工工作生活中的新奇感,复杂性和不可预测性。

Risk is also a flow trigger, which is obvious for athletes. But it's not just physical risk. What you're really trying to do is get the brain to release dopamine, which happens when we take physical risk -- as well as an emotional, social, intellectual, or creative risk. Silicon Valley has an advantage here because it gives people space to fail and take those risks.
风险也是一个心流触发器,对于运动员来说,这一点显而易见。但它不只是身体风险。你真正想要做的事情是,让大脑释放多巴胺,当我们承受身体风险,以及情绪、社交、智力或创新风险时,这一幕就会出现。硅谷在这方面有一定优势,因为它给予人们失败和承受这些风险的空间。

Say I'm an executive, what's my easy answer for reaching a state of flow?
假如我是一位高管,有没有一种简单的方式让我达到心流状态?

There's no easy answer, and we always say this is not self-help. I will say that the people who are really good at this, they don't just go for flow at work, they want flow in their off-time, too. You're training the brain, and the more flow you get, the more flow you get.
没有简单的答案,我们一直强调这并不是自助活动。我想说的是,真正擅长此道的人不仅仅在工作中追求心流状态,在业余时间里,他们也希望获得这种状态。大家需要训练自己的大脑。你进入心流状态的次数越多,你就将获得更多的心流状态。

So what you're saying is, I should take up surfing.
照你的意思,我也应该去冲浪。

Sure. And creative projects are great -- painting, writing, all that stuff. Creative side projects are really important because they're very common flow triggers. Playing sports helps, and not just action sports. But it's important to remember these neurochemicals are potent and addictive, and this can be dangerous stuff. It's not a quick fix. And it's not guaranteed.
当然可以啊。你还可以绘画,写作,任何需要创造力的活动都行。创造性的工作外活动非常重要,因为它们是最常见的心流触发器。从事体育运动的确有好处,并不限于极限运动。但务必要铭记,这些神经化学物质非常强大,很容易上瘾,也有可能成为危险的东西。它并不是一个快速的解决之道,不一定会产生效果。

You can build your environment around these 15 flow triggers, but flow is still a happy accident when it happens. All we can do is make you more accident-prone.
大家可以围绕这15个心流触发器构建你周围的环境,但心流依然是一个幸福的意外,总是在不经意间突然来到。我们能够做的事情就是,让自己更容易遭遇这样的意外。(财富中文网)



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