Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, an award winning journalist and the executive director of the Flow Research Collective. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on human performance. He’s the author of nine bestselling books, including The Future is Faster Than You Think, Stealing Fire, The Rise of Superman, and the most recent one, The Art of Impossible, which we are talking about in this episode. His work has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes, translated into over 40 languages, and appeared in over 100 publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Atlantic Monthly, Time and the Harvard Business Review.
Steven is a remarkably productive person, and he puts a lot of that extraordinary productivity down to what he’s been doing for the last 30 years, and what he’s writing about in The Art of Impossible. In this book, he refers to the work of our previous guests Mike Gervais and Angela Duckworth, and talks about the topics that we’ve explored with Frans Johansson and Scott Page in previous episodes. Steven Kotler is making his third appearance on this podcast, and if you are looking for, as he describes it, a practical playbook for impractical people, this is another powerful, relevant, and compelling conversation about the results of his decades long research into peak performance.
What Is Covered:
- The sequence of external and intrinsic motivators that produce peak performance
- How extraordinary capability emerges in individuals
- The compounding effect of long-term practice for achieving peak performance
- Neurochemistry of fear and why peak performers set unrealistic expectations for themselves
Key Takeaways and Learnings:
- Peak performance is getting your biology to work for you, rather than against you. It’s a limited set of skills shaped by biology, which are meant to be deployed in a sequence and in certain order.
- Challenge to skills ratio is the most important of flow’s triggers. When the challenge of the task at hand slightly exceeds our skill set, when we are stretching our skills to the utmost, it is a precondition for flow.
- Peak performers are always going to look for something that really scares them, because they are going to get a lot of energy and a lot of focus for free. But they don’t take on huge fears all at once. They chunk them down, one step at a time, and often.
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler
- Other books by Steven Kotler
- The Flow Research Collective
- Animals in Translation, a book by Temple Grandin
- Bone Games, a book by Rob Schultheis
- The Space Between Commitment and Hesitation with Michael Gervais on OutsideVoices Podcast
- Angela Duckworth: Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance on OutsideVoices Podcast
- Ignoring the Siren Call of Sameness Creates Lasting Value with Scott Page on OutsideVoices Podcast
- Innovating, Medici Style with Frans Johansson on OutsideVoices Podcast