Have you ever been so focused and immersed in an activity that you lost track of time? Have you ever felt as if you were watching yourself do a task, like you tapped into an alternate reality?

An essential part of the creative process and being a good leader is the ability to go with the flow. Most innovations were not created in a vacuum. Often they were the next step in a fluid chain of thinking or reactions or experiments.

When we are in a fluid state of mind, during a “flow experience,” we lose all self-absorption. Instead of worrying about our finances, our haircut, or our dinner plans, our energy and attention can be directed almost exclusively to the task at hand. These intense periods of almost ecstatic concentration need not happen only when we are doing something novel. A sense of flow may occur in the shower, or on a long drive – two instances when the rational mind is occupied with a fairly basic task and the nonlinear mind can play, associate, and discover new possibilities. When and where do you do your best thinking? How can you incorporate those activities into your day?

I believe the secret to innovation – the times when we can connect the dots, imagine a better future, shift our perspective, and play – is staying fluid, moment to moment being both present and engaged but also moving forward. I liken this to a river - countless individual drops of water all touching one another, progressing and forming something greater than themselves, changing and flowing continuously. As Lao Tzu said, “You cannot step in the same river twice.”

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and unable to see how ideas or events fit together, I rely on this short River Meditation to release thoughts and gain a different perspective. Play with it now and see how much more fluid you feel in only three minutes.

This river mediation can help us tap into our fluid, creative center, and it also show us that we are not at the whim and mercy of our thoughts. We can observe our thoughts as they occur to us without attaching to them. As we step outside of the river and observe it, we can find a sense of balance and peace, and an ability to let go.

Learn 24 other tools for innovation and creativity in the upcoming ebook The Creative Executive, available on Amazon October 26th.