CHAPTER THREEThe Elementsof Artistic Flow

In Stephen Sondheim’s song “Anyone Can Whistle,” the singer wonders why she can do difficult things like tango and read Greek but can’t whistle, why “what’s hard is simple, what’s natural comes hard.” Like the tango and Greek, economics is hard, but after years in business the economic flow seems relatively clear and simple to most of us. Artistic flow, on the other hand, even though it includes natural things like emotions, imagination, beauty, and meaning, comes hard to people in the business world.

Moving from inputs to outputs is not the only type of flow. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described flow as “a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes ...

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