By HUMEworks

There are a few things in life that heighten our lived experience like co-creativity. It’s why we love improv comedy, jazz, live music, film, theatre, dance and team sports like we love life itself. 

Every last one of these enterprises depends on everybody in the boat rowing in the same direction. (Also explains why we hanker to 'go backstage' and see where the magic's made, to get close to the ineffable of real humans doing amazing things.)

But how on earth do we enter into this state ourselves, share the sheer fun of it and do so sustainably? 

How do we bring co-creativity into our lives?

Better yet, how might we do this reliably and repeatedly, on cue?

Let’s begin at the beginning.

The social currency of a flow state between two or more human beings is predicated on three things.

First: context, that’s to say, a shared sense of what the hell's going on.

Second, vulnerability/intimacy—a shared sense the other person really matters—not just masking my own fears and inhibitions but opening up to the person in front of me.

A sense of how close we are to the people we want to share the idea in the space where those two things intersect (alignment)—our third thing: trust.

Trust is the social currency of shared flow. No trust, no flow. (Just ask the aerial artists of Cirque de Soleil.)

When we enter into shared flow—think: a jazz quartet or an improv comedy trio or actors in a rehearsal or a great instinctual passing play in hockey, soccer, basketball— that's what we're sharing: trust.

When Lionel Messi or Wayne Gretzky or LeBron James passes into an open space where no one is now, knowing in a second or three that the one team member that he wants, is going to run onto that ball, wide open, that perfect anticipation is shared flow.

That gift of anticipation is a work of art by an elite athlete, but in our own personal day-to-day undertakings, each and every one of us can replicate the dynamics of shared flow because the neuroscience behind it, while still mysterious, gives us more than enough clues to do likewise.

And the neuroscience governs how we share a story, because when we’re communicating with one another—sharing a stor, me to you,  you to me—our nervous systems actually mirror each other.

We know this because fMRI brain scans actually track this; the peer-reviewed research has been around a good fifteen years.

But what's really astonishing is two or more human beings collaborating in real time, not knowing where they're going and yet trusting each other, producing work of a very high order, together.

That improvisational flow takes place in a different part of the brain—and it takes place in a part of the brain that's allied profoundly to shared story.

That's not to say there's a one-to-one relationship between neurons and what's actually happening because no one can make that case.

As the research stands, we know interpretive flow (focus when I’m playing a Bach or Taylor Swift tune off a chart on a music stand) is very different—and located as a process in an entirely different part of the brain—from improvisional flow, invention in the moment: something new, right here, right now, like a jazz sax player soloing over Night and Day or Georgia on My Mind.

So what builds trust? What enhances the degree to which we ‘buy into’ a shared story, shapes why and how we do our best work in high trust situations? Because, of course, there's no way these situations are completely bereft of conflict or resistance.

To the contrary: the whole idea of what we're doing here at HUMEworks is resolving conflict, finding alignment, diminishing resistance, identifying both the leading indicators of change and the change-agents leading that change.

All predicated on understanding the dynamics of trust govern co-creativity,

There’s an emerging field of research now into all this and if you look around, you'll discover some profound insights into just how powerful human creativity is: it’s the science of how human beings flourish. And here’s a few starting reads, to get you going. 

  1. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-real-neuroscience-of-creativity/#
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645498/full

Live and be well