As a manager, this state of flow is less common, if not non-existent. You aren’t diving deep on a task during an uninterrupted block of time, as required in flow – you’re the one helping others dive deep on a task. You’re also not receiving immediate feedback about your progress in the same way you would as an individual contributor, which is another critical element of flow. As a manager, you might not find out until months later if a decision you made or a conversation you had positively or adversely affected your team.~ Claire Lew
I think there’s a continuous pull to increase the total amount of work-output that we accomplish. Year by year, we improve our skills, learn new areas of interest, and even change careers entirely. We’re optimizing. The hard question is: Optimizing for what? Why?
I know I’ve been lured by the trap of thinking that if I just had help, then I’d be able to optimize. If I had more help, I’d be able to make more money, make more time, make more happiness for my myself, or make more happiness for the world. It’s taken me a long time to realize that, managing work and doing work are two different things.
I understand some people are drawn to—derive inherent pleasure from—managing others well and leading productive teams. But to date, I am not one of those people. This has left me in the unstable position of being pulled in opposing directions by two ideas: I would like to do fulfilling work. But to do more fulfilling work than I am currently, I need help from others. The key for me is to work with others in a spirit of collaboration; To not slip into my default mode of optimization, (specification, control, and micro-management.)