I discovered a new word: autotelic.
“The term “autotelic” derives from two Greek words, auto meaning self, and telos meaning goal. It refers to a self-contained activity, one that is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply because the doing itself is the reward.”
This word is used by professor Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience to define one of the essential characteristics of the experience of “flow”.
In short, one of the signs that we are in a peak experience is that we found the experience so rewarding in itself that we detach from the outcome.
It’s the kind of feeling we experience when we do something not to achieve something but for the pure joy of doing it.
Can you think about anything you do in your life that you love so much doing that you detach from the outcome?
When I read that word, the first image that came to my mind was a group of kids playing. I remember that I could play for hours — losing the sense of time is another sign of being in flow — just for the joy of playing. There was no other purpose than playing itself.
Other self-rewarding activities for me are playing the guitar, reading, writing, having conversations.
All activities that we don’t usually associate with work.
Funny, isn’t it?
One of the keys to maximising our performances is to do things for the joy of doing them, and not for the desire or need to achieve something.
Yet, for many of us, work is all about the outcome.
Maybe, we should try to make our work a bit more playful.