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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Rodriguez

Unlock Your Full Potential

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

Creativity and curiosity. Two adjectives of my childhood and two simple words that cultivated my development into adulthood. I am now 30 years old; I have finally entered my 30s. This decade is supposed to be the transformative years that will unlock all the riches and glories of the past 12 years of hard work and education in my current field of study. However, since graduating from grad school, obtaining specialized certifications for my job, and reaching a semi pinnacle point in my career, I'm left unsatisfied.

All of you who know me and are reading this post are wondering how could this be? How can this girl, who has everything she could ever want, end up feeling unsatisfied? And maybe unsatisfied is the wrong word, but it's the word that suits my current attitude. I always thought I would feel content and happy after reaching my career goals. Still, after some reading and reflecting, I realized the drive toward my goals was extrinsic. When extrinsic rewards drive your life, you will inevitably feel like you are never done. You will continue to feel unsatisfied, and you will continue to look for the next thing. So how do we transform these extrinsic rewards into intrinsic rewards? How do we retrieve the creative and curious elements of our brain that we had when we were children to stimulate the sense of Flow?

Mr. Mihlay Csikszentmihalyi is the Doctor of Psychology who coined the term Flow. He set out to find happiness and unlock optimal human performance. Flow is defined as a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity. Mr. Mihlay describes the best moments in life occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. If you read that quote again, you'll notice a few keywords jump out at you: best, voluntary, difficult, and worthwhile. We all want to live the best life possible, to have worthwhile experiences, and to be challenged, but how far are we willing to go voluntarily to reach those depths?

I loved playing sports. Basketball was my first love. I went to camps, and I practiced all the time. There were a handful of moments where I felt I was "in the zone." But more often than not, when it counted the most, I would crack under pressure. No matter how much I wanted to be the go-to girl for the buzzer-beater shot, I never found Flow.

Now that I'm older, I'm starting to explore this idea of Flow. I'm drawn to people's experiences and journeys that are extreme. Take, for instance, David Goggins and Alex Hommel. You have an ultra-endurance athlete and an extreme free solo climber. Both individuals have pushed the boundary of human potential. The only way they could have survived the radical nature of their sports is through their state of Flow. They were able to reach the highest level of human performance and overcome states of fear, fatigue, and injury. Ultimately, they reached a level of happiness that was intrinsically driven. There was no extrinsic gain only the internal satisfaction of reaching their full potential and pushing the boundaries of the human body and mind.

That's the state of Flow I want to find. Through my writing and my newfound love of endurance sports, I am searching for my full human potential. I want to unlock my happiness and unleash the intrinsic rewards of this beautiful life. My job has provided me with the knowledge of the human body and how to unlock restrictions and alleviate pain. I am grateful for that knowledge and the ability to share that with others. Still, there is too much extrinsic gain in this line of work, and it isn't easy to separate myself from that reward system. I chose triathlon, rock climbing, and writing because each of these experiences provides me with a strong sense of internal satisfaction. I am most happy when I complete a difficult race or a challenging rock-climbing route. But, I am also deeply grateful and honored when my writing inspires others.

Flow is the balance between challenge and skill. I am in search of this mental state, and I am persistent in my journey to reach my optimal human performance.

Philippians 3:13-14

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