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The Optimal Amount of Challenge

By October 4, 2020May 30th, 2023No Comments

Story time!  I took a mountain bike coaching session awhile back in Squamish. I had never done one before and I learned a lot about how I could improve my skills – cornering, body position, braking… there’s always something to work on with mountain biking!  

But then something happened… I got worse. Like… way worse.  It was frustrating!  While you do need to slow things down to burn in new pathways and techniques and I was committed to trying, it just wasn’t working.  My husband pointed out that I was trying too hard. I was trying to change way too many things at once.  There are only so many inputs you can take!

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is “the guy” when it comes to flow state research.  I also am reading this book on decoding the science of human performance as it relates to flow.

What is the optimal amount of difficulty for flow and performance?  Scientists found that just 4% past your current ability is the right amount.  Just 4%!  That’s barely moving the needle and I think many of us try to dial it up by much higher numbers.

Once I stopped trying so hard, something awesome happened. I got better and after observing some videos I took of myself riding, I noticed that I am starting to employ my new techniques!

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