5 min read ⌚
Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
Do you wonder how some people, like the extreme athletes, do things that most humans would consider impossible?
That is exactly what we talk about in our summary of Steven Kotler’s “The Rise of Superman.” Moreover, by using the presentation of their experience, you will learn how to get into “flow” and top your performance.
Who Should Read “The Rise of Superman”? and Why?
“The Rise of Superman” is a thrilling book that presents some superhuman achievements, agonizing tragedy and impossible triumphs.
Steven Kotler enters the world of extreme sports and does so by using adventure-novel style. You will feel thrilled and excited as you go through the pages, that will ultimately teach you how to achieve better performance at your job.
We recommend this read to ambitious readers, those interested in adventures and cognitive science.
About Steven Kotler
Steven Kotler is a best selling author and a co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project.
“The Rise of Superman Summary”
In the world of extreme sports, athletes need to enter their flow state. Otherwise, they would face grave dangers.
These athletes are the ones that push the known limits of human performance.
Why are we talking about sports?
Well, extreme sports give us insight into the flow, which is absolute concentration and the ability to make correct decisions and execute them in a split second.
The good news is that not only athletes can experience flow, but you can too!
By experiencing it, you will enjoy higher performance and productivity levels.
When you are in the zone, you enter a different form of consciousness. Usually, people get into this type of consciousness when they get into life-threatening situations.
You must have heard that when a person faces great danger, time slows down and your perceptions expand. As a result, you gather all information about you and use it to make the right decision that will save you.
You may not even be aware of it at the time, but when you think back, you will realize that in such moments your performance skyrockets.
Many people that experienced it grew addicted to the feeling of being in the zone.
When you face a crisis, your brain gets energy from thinking processes and uses it for intuition. In other words, it stops all the questioning that may be going on in your head and takes command.
People who have felt this effect feel as if a burden was taken off their shoulders since they do not feel that they need to make decisions themselves.
What does this mean for productivity?
Well, when your guard is down, and doubts are not constraining you, you suddenly feel the freedom you need to create, innovate, imagine, and dare.
The risk is not the only way to get into the flow. In fact, there are 22 gateways that you can use to enter the zone.
We have to note that no matter how much they practice, some people always fall short and do not get into the flow. As you are aware, only a few people rise to the top in their fields.
The extra element we have to take into consideration is the way your brain functions.
The brain has explicit (conscious) and implicit (subconscious) systems.
Most people do not get to the level where they can control each stage and as a result achieve superhuman creativity and innovation.
The lucky few describe that when faced with challenges they hear a “voice” that guides them and is “never wrong.” The problem is that although everyone possesses that inner voice, most of us do not hear it.
The only way to let that voice come to the surface is to silence all the chatter that happens in your brain all day, every day.
Then, you will be able to get in the flow, where you will be free from thinking, and be able to just do.
Key Lessons from “The Rise of Superman”:
1. Getting to Flow
2. The Flow Cycle
3. Degrees of Flow
Getting to Flow
Getting into the flow is remarkably easy once you train yourself.
However, you first need to understand the flow triggers and the flow cycle, which we will cover in the second lesson.
When you are in flow, you do not need external pressure to practice whatever you are set out to practicing. When you are in flow, you want to practice.
You feel that action is fun, and as a result, you learn faster. Feeling fun acts as instant gratification.
To get into the flow, you do not have to do risky things such as extreme sports. Instead, you can engage in intellectual risk as well.
Do what works best for you.
The Flow Cycle
All flow is connected to a four-stage cycle:
- “Struggle” is the beginning of the flow process, when you need a great effort to practice. Be prepared to feel frustration and need to work hard as you move toward the solution of the problem.
- “Release” is the stage when you need to take a break from the challenge. Relax and let stress subside. Feeling good is key.
- “Flow.” You get to the flow because of the previous two stages. After the fight, you release, and then you flow.
- “Recovery” is the stage after the flow state, in which your body and your mind both need to recover from the use of energy.
Degrees of Flow
You will most certainly induce flow if you look for unusual experiences that break your everyday routine. Set bite-sized, but challenging goals, instead of establishing long-term ones. Act here and now.
By connecting your small goals you will achieve bigger ones, but if you think of the end objective, you will probably get distracted.
Walk step by step, get into the flow, and live in the now.
If you feel that the challenge is too big, you will get stressed, and your performance will plummet. If the challenge is too small, on the other hand, you will lose focus.
Set the right level of challenge, so you keep your mind from wandering or stressing.
To get into your challenge “sweet spot,” increase the task difficulty by 4% every time you do it.
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“The Rise of Superman” QuotesTo really achieve anything, you have to be able to tolerate and enjoy risk. It has to become a challenge to look forward to. In all fields, to make exceptional discoveries you need risk—you’re just never going to have a breakthrough… Click To Tweet The reasons there are so many clichés about universes inside of dewdrops is because there are universes inside of dewdrops. Click To Tweet Most people live in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole organism, should… Click To Tweet When risk is a challenge, fear becomes a compass—literally pointing people in the direction they need to go next. Click To Tweet As children we are taught not to play with fire, not how to play with fire. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
The book is scientifically backed and well written, although at times Kotler does not make entirely convincing comparisons and parallels between extreme sports and work performance.