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Are You In Your Flow?

by Richard Bergstrom

Posted: September 10, 2021

Learning what motivates you…

In his book DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink challenges the traditional view of business using reward and punishment, or the carrot and the stick approach to motivation. Instead, he suggests a third drive, which is intrinsic motivation. He maintains that we all seek three things: 1) autonomy (the need to direct our lives), 2) mastery (to learn and create new things, and 3) purpose (to do better by ourselves and the world). He cites the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his concept of “flow” from social determine theory (SDT).

For Csikszentmihalyi, “the highest, most satisfying experiences in people’s lives were when they were in flow. When in flow, the relationship between what a person had to do and what he could do was perfect. The challenge wasn’t too easy and wasn’t too hard. In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place and even self, melted away.” Pink then cites the “Goldilocks tasks,” – challenges that are not too hot and not too cold, neither overly difficult nor overly simple. For example, one source of frustration in the workplace is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom…But when the match is just right, the results can be glorious. This is the essence of flow.” (excerpt from DRiVE, pg. 118-119).
I’ve learned a lot about being in my “flow” through my partnership with MCODE ( While Pink articulates the correlation between the challenge of the task and one’s abilities, MCODE would say he still doesn’t get to the deeper level of what motivates us. You are truly in your “flow” when you are operating out of your top motivational themes. Todd Hall, chief science officer of PRUVIO, wrote recently in an exchange forum that “MCODE specifies the unique motivations that intrinsically drive you, beyond the general three that social determine theory (SDT) articulates, which apply (to some extent) to everyone. MCODE gets to a deeper, more unique layer for the individual.”

By taking the MCODE Assessment myself, I learned my primary motivators in life are: 1) Be Unique, 2) Overcome, 3) Master, 4) Demonstrate New Learning, and, 5) Meet the Challenge. When I am doing something that aligns with these primary motivators, I’m in my flow, energized and motivated while engaged in what I am doing. One example was when Leona and I wrote our book, Third Calling, several years ago. That project brought into alignment all of my key motivators in life. We were offering a unique message to the world. But to do so, we had to master our subject matter, then demonstrate new learning through our research and writing, meet the challenge of self-publishing our book, and overcome all the obstacles to doing marketing and distribution. When these primary motivators are in alignment, work seems like play. 

I’d love to help you “get into your flow” in life by taking the MCODE Assessment with me. You can learn more about it on our website, or contact me.

Richard Bergstrom is a Certified MCODE Practitioner 

*DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
. Daniel H. Pink. Riverhead Books, 2009.

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Richard Bergstrom is president of ChurchHealthRe-Ignite in Edmonds, Washington

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Posted: September 10, 2021

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