…watch this video of an amazing kid taking the internet by storm. You may have already come across him and his talent, but I wonder if you’ve recognised it from this perspective?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyWaEHZjeUs]

Its clip of 7-year-old Jaxon Smith playing along to the Foo Fighters track ‘Pretender’. I saw it on the Daily Mail website first off, and was astounded!

This kid is in the Flow! This is what mastery is all about.

We’ve talked here before about the three keys to intrinsic motivation. Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Autonomy is getting to choose what you do, who you do it with and how you do it. Purpose is about doing something to become or be part of something larger than you currently are. Those are easy to understand from a motivational point of view.

Mastery is always harder to explain.

The concept of becoming good at something and then better, is not too difficult, but true mastery comes when you attain ‘Flow’. This is a state brought on when you are totally at one with the activity you are engaged in and performing it at the highest level possible for your current standard. Sports men and women talk about it a lot. Being in the moment, or in the flow, where they felt like things just happened without conscious effort.

It takes practice, and dedication, and the pursuit of it can consume everything else. It’s fabulously motivational to be involved in the pursuit of mastery and the attainment of mastery. But Jaxon SHOWS what it is about here.

Look at his face. Total concentration. Immersion. If ever you’ve seen someone in the flow its him. And interestingly, kids spend LOTS of time in the flow. When? When they are playing that’s when. Learning the drums like Jaxon, or some other musical instrument, or kicking a ball against a wall so often it becomes part of them.

We are so practiced at learning and attaining mastery as kids its amazing we lose the ability. But lose it we do. How? I’m not sure.

But I think its something to do with a school system that seems intent on teaching creativity out of our children. Being focussed on outcomes rather than learning. And I mean learning for learnings sake. For the love of learning alone.

It seems exams and league tables are more important that the experience or the actual pursuit and attainment of mastery. A one size fits all approach that clearly shows signs of actually fitting none.

So there you are: Flow in action. And as usual it takes a kid to show us how its done.

Well done Jaxon, You’re a star, and more power to you.

  1. mrsmoti
    mrsmoti says:

    Watching Roger Federer always makes me think about flow… how effortless he makes it look, whereas Andy Murray not quite there yet…

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Watching the All Blacks play rugby is another sports analogy Mr Dowling … is flow another word for “in the groove” more my age bracket . nicely written…

  3. Keith Crane
    Keith Crane says:

    I think there’s perhaps a mental block behind adults being in full flow or “in the zone” as I would call it. When you are a kid; you do things just because you can… not because it has any greater meaning or implication to your life. I think perhaps in later life, we can be guilty of getting something akin to stage fright… a fear of the consequences.
    Great blog Tony, an enjoyable read!

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Keith. I think there is a lot to what you say. Ive just watched another video on being in the flow, which I will post at some point 😛
      in it, they explore the idea that flows comes from doing something you love, adn doing it for the greater good, interesting ideas I thought