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Flawless Executive: What Extreme Sports & Michelangelo Have In Common 0

Crazy combinations can give you awesome results!

As a trainer, I think I’m probably wired a little differently than most people.

I am always looking for a way to understand things so I can explain them to others.

And in that process, my own personal learning goes much deeper. In essence, the more I teach, the more I learn…it’s a lovely little dance and a true passion.

And when I’m in “teaching mode” my body and soul (yes, my soul,) fill with so much love that I am in a complete state of happiness. It is at these moments when we are our most powerful. In this state, which in my opinion is as close to euphoria as we humans can get next to the “flow state”. At this state, we are attracting the most positive things to us.

There is no room in your mind or body for negative feelings because you are immersed in a state of love and the universe lines up and brings you everything that your imagination can produce “this feeling” about.

Let’s break down those last few sentences. I go into teaching mode, and even if everything had gone wrong on the way to work, right before I walk in the door I do a quick visualization of everything I want to teach during the next session. I try to feel the way I know I’m going to feel [in a few minutes] when the words start flowing and I get the energy in the room warmed up and get people ready and “open for learning”. So, giving myself a moment to get ready for this greatness to happen – is only necessary. Just a few seconds is all it takes, but you have to commit to it and see it fully in order to summon the “flow state.”

The “timelessness of creativity” I have mentioned in previous posts…this state happens…or should I say, we are gifted with the “flow state”, when we allow only love for the “moment” to enter our heart and mind simultaneously.

To be in “the flow” while creation is happening within you and all around you.  You are no longer conducting the show — you ARE the SHOW.

It’s coming out of you so fast you can hardly keep up with it….at this moment…you are only focused on what you love, “your calling” so to speak, and this is when not only your best work gets done, but when you get to receive a glimpse of what the universe has to offer. The more often we get into this state, filled with love and ready to kick some butt, the better and more amazing our lives become.

This is truly how you shape your life to become exactly what you want it to be.

Let me give you an example. Extreme sports enthusiasts live in the moment. When these people are “doing what they do” there is no negativity in their heart. They are NOT thinking about how their boss really screwed them…or how they have overdue bills sitting on the kitchen counter. These people, in the moment of their “flow” have only love, anticipation and a sheer will to see what comes next. Think of surfers living these moments. Any question as to whether this guy is in the flow or not?


Taking a look at the “high liner” in this video – there is no question as to whether the “flow state” is present. If the flow state were tangible, I would think this is what it would look like….



People often talk about “getting to zero”. I have several theories on this, however, the one I’d like to focus on right now is – the flow state and zero – helpless creativity. You are not in control….you are going to find out how everything turns out when it’s all over. Right now, you are simply taking action from a state that absolutely anything could happen.

Think of all the great artists of the world. Can you imagine what their processes must have been? Let’s go back in time. I have done extensive research on Michelangelo. His process fascinates me. When I was in Italy, I sat down with a historical researcher in Rome and Florence — we dug into the details that made Michelangelo the genius that he was.

He would obtain such a flow state for so long (his flow state would last for days…even weeks) and he would be so consumed with his work he wouldn’t bathe – yes, Michelangelo was the stinky guy down at the end of the street.

He was eccentric, temperamental, insecure, and struggling with his sexuality. In addition, the funding for his projects was constantly being stalled, he would get started on one job and then get pulled off it to start another job. And by this I mean Pope Paul III would come calling and say “if you don’t stop working on the tomb of Julius and paint the Last Judgement wall in the Sistine Chapel….I’m going to have you killed”. Let’s just say Michelangelo had his fair share of stress in his life…yet he found a way to keep his creation process humming right along despite all of the external chaos.

Walking through one of the brightly lit isles of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, I saw 4 statues that had yet to be completed. It looked like the figures were “climbing out” of the marble…. And so many of them had been started all at once.  Michelangelo was commissioned to complete 30 statues for Pope Julius II, in 1505. The Pope had elaborate plans for a tomb, yet the funding dried up and he died before the plan could come together. Only six of the statues were completed and these 4 unfinished statues which I find so interesting – nagged him for 40 years. He considered the work and effort he spent on the Julius tomb to be the tragedy of his career.

Unfinished Slave Statue


(One of Michelangelo’s Unfinished Statues)

Walking through the gallery’s corridor, you could almost feel the magnitude of Michelangelo’s process. His “flow state” that still exists amongst the cold white marble that his hands expertly created during one of his nights when “the surge” (synonomos for flow) took hold of him and allowed his hands to create. What was the process? Why did he start so many of them at once? He had so many projects going at one time, how did he keep his energy and creativity engaged? Did the lack of funding on his projects and contracts stifle his creative juices? Did the unfinished work drive him or stress him out? Oh how I wish could have been a little fly on the wall, alive back in the 1500’s watching him work.

The David pic 2

These statues, made such a huge impression on me. Yes, the David was amazing, and I sat and looked at him for hours. Took pictures from every angle, and marveled at the dimensions Michelangelo created in the extremities of the statue in order to make the impact he wanted. You see David’s feet and hands are much larger than they should be, so they can be seen with equality from the top of a building. Michelangelo needed us to see the details of the feet and hands and he did it in a way that makes the David look totally natural and …. yes the most gorgeous creation I could ever imagine at the top of a building. The detail is stunning, but “the flow” hangs around the statue – thick in the air. It is so obvious miraculous energy was spent in creating this statue – it literally clings to the David and emanates from it.

Yet, my mind still wanders inquisitively back to the half created statues. What were their faces going to look like? You could tell their bodies were full of emotion, but what story would their eyes tell? It’s the unfinished business of Michelangelo that keeps my mind pondering what sort of “flow state” I will be gifted with next.  (I mean you can’t sit in the presence of all this greatness and not pre-plan for a little greatness yourself!)

I often break down the flow state in a sense of what it feels like at work. I can only imagine what Michelangelo’s flow state would have been like….

Go with me here for a moment. Instead of looking at spreadsheets and meeting minutes…let’s pretend we do something artistic and creative…

The year is 1510, and I am Michelangelo. (Let’s fire up your imagination for a second!) The sun is just coming up and I wake up to the crazy rooster next door crowing. I envision baked chicken for dinner …I worked late into the night and I only caught a couple hours of sleep.

The remains of last night’s work come flooding back into my mind. Empty wine bottles and broken tools lay lifeless on the floor of my shop.

How did the hip go so awry? I loved the bulge I was getting in the thigh muscle, and now I’m going to have to find a different line. Do I like the seam in the marble, or is it running in the wrong direction? Do I have access to any other gigantic pieces of marble right now? Can I scrap this son-of-a-b*tch and start over?

I heave myself upright as I swing my legs over the side of the bed. The years of heavy lifting are starting to taking its toll, and the ache in my back forces me to stand upright immediately. Being a sculpting genius allows me to have a bed in my shop and I’m grateful for the convenience as I stand up and saunter over to my workbench.

Lost in thought, I pick up last nights tea and sip it cold….

Wandering over to the marble that takes up the middle of the room — Before the chaos of the day begins I allow myself one loving moment with my work. Giving myself permission to stand here and take it all in — not to criticize….simply to find every little detail that I love about what I have created so far. My callused hands gently slide down the structure…fingers feeling for the emotion that has yet to emerge from the stone. The possibilities are limitless. I have this image of raw emotion that is on the verge of bursting through the marble and penetrating my world….the next thing I know my muscles are tensing up….I stand here feeling the energy that is about to step out of this cold lifeless rock. The amazement of what I could create starts to overwhelm me….I can feel my pulse quickening…..before I know it I am flooded with ideas and feelings….things I want to try, and thoughts I don’t want to forget. Distracted with new ideas and a renewed sense of excitement I let the feelings and “the flow” flood in.

What time is it? Its dark outside…hours have past. My back tells me exhaustion has set in. I toss my tools to the ground…some are worn down to the nub. I have been lost in the timelessness of creativity. The hours that slipped by unbeknownst to me weren’t really mine. I was along for the ride, but I wasn’t really in control. I remember making some decisions when I got to the jawline. And I think I tried to “take over” too much on the left armpit…I should have just let “the flow” take it and run with it. But overall as I climb down from my ladder to stand back and look at the features of my work…I can live with it. I’m too exhausted to do anything about it anyway.

Blowing out candles and eyeballing my bed I contemplate having a servant run me a bath….I’m just too damn tired. Sniffing my own armpit I get a “sour nutty aroma”. Tomorrow, I’ll bathe…tomorrow. Not bothering to take my clothes off….I weakly crawl into bed. My mind skimming over the last few hours….with everything going wrong in my life (the Medici’s are dropping like flies, and the new servant boy is so cute…but he’s driving me crazy)….the love for these marble beauties under my hands is more than I can deny. The happiness and euphoria, combined with frustration and confusion, followed by submission and the eventual creation — is the most painful experience and yet, the most rewarding and loving process in the world. The trick is seeing all of these aspects from a place of love and happiness so you can summon “the flow state” as often as possible.

My body is worn out but my mind is racing. I can’t be thinking all these “deep thoughts” when I just got off that damn ladder and I need to be shutting my mind down. Geez Angelo, get it together!

Rolling over, I close my eyes and invite sleep to come…secretly anticipating the next flow state and silently putting forth requests to help me get the left testicle to look right.

I am not a sculptor or an artist of any sort. I have zero artistic ability and I feel fortunate that I can write my name as well as I do…the point of using Michelangelo as an example of the flow is simply to point out — the process by which you summon “the flow” is the same for everything we focus on — whether it be creating a new report for the company or cooking a kickass dinner for your family:


  1. Focus only on what you love about what you’re going to do. If you hate your job then you may have to generate feelings of love and happiness for the clean white notepad sitting on your desk, the sharp pencils in your drawer, and the cute UPS delivery driver that stops by everyday. It doesn’t matter what it is that you focus on…as long as you get into a state of happiness. So sitting at your desk thinking about anything and everything that you love and that makes you happy is the first step in igniting this state within you. Can’t think of anything you love at work? Then think about anything that you love that isn’t work. The feeling itself is more important than what the feeling is directed at.
  1. Once you’re clear and you have put as much love and emotion into your mind and body as you can possibly handle…then, allow your focus to move to the things you have to accomplish in your day. Begin asking yourself questions about what you want to accomplish.

How should I solve the low sales numbers?

What should I do about the budget deadline?

Who could help me mentor my new employee?

Asking questions when you are in a super positive state will return the most positive answers. The concept is very simple, yet consistent practice of getting and staying in this positive state can be mind-boggling.

The ability to summon “the flow” is freeing, overwhelming, and a little scary. Getting yourself to a complete state of happiness as you anticipate the greatness that is about to happen — this is the key step in igniting “the flow”. It’s the honesty of it all that makes one so vulnerable. It’s the honesty of it all that makes it so scary. And…might I say…not all “flow states” are considered equal….but some, can change your life.

I told myself when I started writing this blog, I do my best work in “the flow”. I made a deal with myself I was going to get in the flow and write quickly. I was NOT going to agonize over the details…just create. [Gulp…now breathe Jen.] I no longer have the luxury of taking days to restructure paragraphs, and the security of allowing myself the time to finish it tomorrow is gone. My current expectation is to finish every article I start in 24 hours. Get started, get passionate, and get writing. That’s my motto. Here’s to GOING FOR IT!

What have you done lately when “the flow” took over? Miracles take place in “the flow” and I’d love to hear about yours.

Remember, it’s not what you do next week that matters, it’s what you do in the next hour that can change your life.

Jennifer Montgomery

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