Work "flow"

While all the attention has been on the match and the players, one could also pay tribute to the unsung hero - the chair umpire.

44-year-old Mohamed Lahyani of Sweden spent 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days in the umpire's chair, but he said he did not get a chance to feel tired.

"I was gripped by the amazing match and my concentration stayed good," Lahyani said. "I owed that to the players. Their stamina was breathtaking and their behavior exceptional."

"When you are so focused, and every point feels like a match point, you just don't even think about eating or needing the bathroom."

The experience Lahyani described was remarkably similar to what Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi referred to in his book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life as "flow", which are exceptional, intense moments in which what one feels, what one wishes and what one thinks are in harmony, moments in which one is so completely immersed in the experience that one wants it to last forever. According to Csikzentmihalyi, "flow" tends to occur "when a person's skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable", and the "flow" experience usually involves "a fine balance between one's ability to act, and the available opportunities for action". Simply put, when high challenges are matched with high skills, the deep involvement of "flow" is likely to occur. In the case of the extraordinary match, the players' stamina and behaviour provided Lahyani with the high level of challenge, and he had to apply his umpiring skills and bo so totally focused on every point that he was completely unaware of his physical needs. He was in a perfect state of "flow".

No doubt the players were too. And we should not forget that, both for the umpire and the players, the tennis match was their work, and they have been able to find "flow" in their workplace. How much more rewarding our life will be if we can derive "flow" experience from our work life, which accounts for much of our waking time?

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