Skip to main content

Episode 116 — Steven Kotler — Harnessing Neuroscience for Peak Performance

"Peak performance is not about how things feel. It's about what you do despite the feelings.” - Steven Kotler

  • What does it take to accomplish the impossible?
  • How can we make our biology — even the disadvantages — work for us?
  • What four stages allow us to win in any situation?
  • Why is fear a directional arrow for peak performers?
  • When putting in the work, how important is it to enjoy the process over the outcome?
  • After years of research, what habits have Steven adopted and cast aside?
  • Why is Steven so optimistic?

Neuroscience of Performance

The path to peak performance is often a formulaic refrain: genetics plus environment minus drugs multiplied by about 10,000 hours of practice. But this equation is not a guarantee of success. What if the true path to achieving the impossible lies within each of our minds? Neuroscience is the key to unlocking full human potential and tapping into optimal consciousness or flow. 

In this episode, Steven Kolter shows us how to go beyond what feels personally impossible, break records, and change the game.

Author of 10 best-sellers and internationally recognized human performance expert, Steven is an award-winning journalist and the Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective. His work has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes, topped the New York Times lists, and appeared in over 100 publications.

Tap into Flow

When only the task at hand exists, everything else melts away. We feel and perform our best. Total absorption. That's flow. Drop into this state often. Begin to achieve the things we think of as impossible for ourselves.

"You go into the backcountry and someone will say, ‘Today is the day I'll jump this.’ But often they are just doing what they do, and impossible is what happens along the way." - Steven Kotler

To break records and achieve the impossible — from the courtroom to the ski hill — flow will get you there. But getting to this optimal state requires passing through the primary stages. Motivation gets you into the game. Learning allows you to continue to play. And creativity is how you steer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Extraordinary is a choice. Steven spent his career interviewing people who accomplished the impossible, was often in the room when the impossible became possible, and will tell you that everyone started out unbelievably ordinary.
  • Domino effect of success. Start by doing something that seems impossible to you. Once that is achieved, what else can you do? Over time you accomplish capital 'I' impossible.
  • Create process goals. These goals (like “write 500 words each day that leave the reader feeling curious”) tell the brain where to focus. Amplify focus and, in turn, amplify flow. Outcome goals (like “win a Pulitzer”) are too general to be effective.

Links and Resources

Author

Michael Mogill, Crisp, and Steven Kolter