Jumat, 15 Juni 2012

My Moment of Zen and the Flow Game

By David Krantz

Recently my family and I had the chance to go to Hawaii for a vacation. We were taking in Kauai's beaches and I was focusing on the surfers move across the water effortlessly. A surfer doesn't get to really select the way the wave goes when they start to ride it. People who are truly good at surfing can adapt to the conditions dictated by the wave. They may be able to glide among the waves on their board using different maneuvers to maintain the control that the waves are battling to maintain. It is like their surfboard is a water flow sensor. That's when it struck me. It looked so clear and clear. I am really not sure why it was not this clear in the past.

I suspect this clearness really started in an earlier conversation with a computer programmer, Mike Casto, while he was teaching a stick fighting class. Mike talked about how expectation and timing was more crucial than the actual stick action as you were moving thru a fight. He announced, "You must flow thru the encounter prepared to swiftly adjust methods to remain in control or take back the initiative when lost if you would like to win the conflict. Your flow motion should put your stick in the proper position and support your stick action. It is this ability to flow or adjust that separates a good stick fighter from someone who just knows the right way to stick fight." These comments didn't seem especially smart at the time.

My Zen moment was also supported by the fact that we took our child with us on our vacation which presented many similar issues. One good example is that he wasn't able to change his rest routines. So although the remainder of Hawaii was 2 hours later than our home in Richland, Washington my boy still awakened at 5 in the morning on the dot. Our hopes of getting a few extra hours of sleep in the morning were smashed. So we instinctually flowed.

Many good things came from our ability to flow. For example, since we were up so early each morning, we managed to walk down to the beach and watch the sunrise with our feet in the sand. This is a great experience and memory that'll be with me forever. We were also some of the first to the breakfast bar at the hotel and therefore always had hot and fresh food. After breakfast our child was ready to snooze again so we used this time to be tourist and went sight-seeing round the island in our car while he slept.

When I was watching the surfers it dawned on me how much good engineering relies upon this very same flow. Good engineers need to be able to look far enough ahead to see opportunities that can be included in their designs but they need to be prepared to flow with new conditions and new info that weren't foreseen. Good engineers need to determine the right tools to accomplish tasks but have to be ready to incorporate feedback from the people using the tools to achieve sought afterdesired results. Good engineering requires a tactic that permits their colleagues to adjust systems as problems and opportunities appear. Good engineering demands the ability to identify the sign flow gives you when are headed down the best path.

But that wasn't my Zen moment. My Zen moment came after my thoughts on engineering. My moment of Zen was that this requirement for flow applies to everything in life. It wasn't just important to surfing, stick fighting, parenting, and engineering. The facility to flow and adjust is a requirement for pretty much every successful venture be it sports, business or humanity. One can not be successful in life without the power to flow.

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