Steven Kotler | The Secret to Flow State & 6 Steps to Recovering from Burnout

In today’s episode, we cover flow state with Steven Kotler. Steven is the founder and executive director of the Flow Research Collective, and is the author of nine international bestsellers including The Rise of Superman and Stealing Fire, and has a new book, The Art of Impossible – A Peak Performance Primer, coming out this month.

Introduction

Flow state is an amazing aspect of the human experience that can boost your productivity to untold levels, but why is it also important to our happiness and strength as a community, how do you tap into it in your daily life, and what is the biggest myth surrounding flow state? 

What to Listen For

  • Steven Kotler’s Introduction – 0:00
  • What is Flow State and How Do You Get Into It – 10:40
  • What is flow state and how do you get into it?
  • What is flow state and why is it important for our satisfaction and community strength?
  • What are the 6 core characteristics of flow state?
  • Why does time seem to slow down when in flow state?
  • Are we doing damage to our children by not pushing them to play outside and experience the flow state early on?
  • What happens biologically when we find ourselves in flow state?
  • What are flow triggers and how can we use them to get into flow when we most need it?
  • What is the first rule of improv and why is it integral to getting into flow state in a conversation?
  • The Myth About Flow State – 31:45
  • What is the biggest myth around flow state?
  • Taking Care of Your Mind When You’re Pushing Yourself – 33:46
  • What can you do if you are worried about burn out?
  • How are anxiety and flow state connected, and what can you do to manage your anxiety so it doesn’t kill your flow state?
  • Why do affirmations not work while gratitude does work?
  • What is the difference between active recovery and passive recovery and why does one pale in comparison to the other?

Entering into flow state used to be something associated with artists and athletes, but science has shown it is accessible to anyone with the ability to focus. Being in a flow state is a result of focusing on a task to the point where you’re not trying to think – all of your thoughts and actions simply flow. But tapping into your flow state, as with anything, requires consistent practice with whatever it is you are doing, and a willingness to focus without distraction.

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Resources from this Episode

Speaker 1: I would of body experiences happen and flow. For example, sometimes deep flow States. We now know why we know what in the brain is causing that we know all why the self go away. Why does time pass strangely? All of these really so-called miserable qualities. We now understand the neurobiology that doesn't make them any less emotionally powerful. You know what I mean? They're not any less mystical just because we understand where they come from. And I always say people on one side of the argument, they, they love the fact that there's biology underneath this so-called spiritual experience. I'm like, look, this proves nothing. It doesn't like if there's a God, it means God talks to us through her biology. If there's not a God that it means the biology works. And for some reason, these kinds of experiences are useful for us. Welcome back to the art of charm podcast. A show designed to help you win at work love in life. Now we know you have what it takes to reach your full potential, and that's why every week Johnny and I share with you interviews and strategies to help you develop the right social skills and mindsets to succeed.

Speaker 2: I shouldn't have to settle for anything less than extraordinary. And I've Johnny, thank you everyone for tuning in. And let's start the show

Speaker 1: Today. We are speaking with a true rockstar. Steven Kotler. Steven is the author of nine international bestsellers, including the rise of Superman and stealing fire. He's also the founder and executive director of the flow research collective, an Institute that researches the neuroscience of flow States. He's considered to be one of the world's leading experts on human performance. And we can't wait to chat with him. His new book is called the art of impossible, a peak performance primer, and is coming out this month, 2020 may not have been your year. So what better way to launch 2020 than with a deep dive into peak performance? Because we probably all have some catching up to do.

Speaker 2: We are talking about punk rock, extreme sports and flow state. Welcome back to the nineties.

Speaker 1: I have to say I was so fired up and we could have went for hours. That guy is an encyclopedia of neuroscience and flow state. And I learned a lot about what it means to actually reach peak performance. I know there's a lot of myths out there around flow state. So it was so awesome to dig in with a real expert. Welcome to the show. Stephen, thanks for having me guys could be with you. Yeah. We're so excited to dig into your latest book on peak performance. And as we get started here, I'd love to learn what peaked your interest in peak performance and how you started researching and developing out the book. This book is a, it goes back all the way to the beginning of my career. And I started out as a journalist covering both science, neuroscience, and psychology, and the topics that I've read written about for years and action sports and action sports in the nineties was this era of impossible, right? More impossible feats were being done than ever before. We'd never seen anything like it. Um, you know, there's a quote from Jeremy Jones in our impossible,

Speaker 3: Or he says, you know, it was literally like stuff that was impossible in the morning was possible by evening. And the rules were like rules that had been set up since the beginning of action sports like don't ever do this, or you'll die. We're changing on an hourly basis that caught my attention, right? Just demands an explanation. First of all, these were friends of mine. It's one thing when people are doing impossible things and you see it from a distance, it's another thing when you you're like drinking with the dude in a bar on Monday night and on Tuesday, they do something that's never been done in the house, the world. And, but more importantly, the athletes I knew in this world, very few of them had much education. They didn't have any money. They came from very difficult backgrounds, a lot of them, and there were lots of drugs.

Speaker 3: There was lots of wildness. This was a group of people that if you were to like call them out on paper and say, what are the chances of like, you know, living through the year, let alone read, aligning what's possible for our species. You wouldn't bet on them is my point. I want to know how is this possible? How is this possible for this group of people? And then that question led into every other domain. I went from action sports, right into it, a list of 30 different scifi technologies, sci-fi ideas. And I was in the room when most of them became science fact. And I, how did that happen? This is impossible stuff. You dreamed up the future, right? You, this was a blind man. And so they, he can see, right, the world's art, a first artificial vision flat gets turned on, which is technically a biblical miracle, right?

Speaker 3: It's not even an impossible, it's a biblical miracle. And it started out after looking at this in dozens and dozens and dozens of domains and tens of thousands of people and really working on the neuroscience along the way, there are commonalities a lot of commonalities, and we've seen, you know, really smart people who have been on your show to talk about focus or mindfulness or gratitude or flow or different pieces of the puzzle. But what has happened now is we've, the science has gotten far enough that we see the whole picture, like, Oh my God, it's one whole system it's designed to work together in a specific order, in a very specific way, and anybody can use it. And if you actually start working with it this way, you know, the moral of the story, I think after 30 years of looking at this long answer to your very short blast of that, I just abused the out of, um, is, uh, if I sum up what I learned over 30 years, it's that we are all hardwired for the extraordinary that's the evidence over and over and over again, nobody I met started out as an extraordinary person.

Speaker 3: They just did. And I've met more people who have done the accomplish the impossible than probably anybody else alive. And none of them started out extraordinary. They all became extraordinary by following actually very similar processes. So that's sort of the big lesson, but it started with action sports and started. And I've had the pleasure today of just being on the phone with a handful of people from my past. So it's been really, and we were talking about what it looked like back before we knew what was possible. Now we are sorta like, Oh yeah, we've seen people jump 300 feet on a snowboard, but there was a period of time in 1994, where there were best in the world would tell you that no human body can survive more than 70 feet off a cliff. You can't do it. That was right. And now we're over 300. So, you know, it's that kind of stuff.

Speaker 4: I want to bring you back a bit to the action sports thing, because I am 47 and I grew up skateboarding and I grew up skateboarding during the nineties when it had an explosion along with all the other action sports and that wave, there was also something else that you missed in there that I'm sure we'll get to this. There was a self-expression that was involved that we have not seen me for. And I come out and sports. And also in the nineties, we had enough technology. We could look back and see the beginnings of skateboards and surf boards and their humble beginnings and pushing them forward to be able to do what they did. So we had a hand in advancing this idea, and while we were advancing it for all the boomers that were around us, our parents were like, Oh, I remember skateboards.

Speaker 4: Like you don't remember him the way we are going to remember them and making them something that was extraordinary. And by tapping into that, that very thing of taking something like a skateboard and making it extraordinary, translated it to every other area in my life. And I think that is something that separates gen X from there, from our parents, but also is able to now, now we see it in technology. We see it in Instagram, we see it in Twitter where people are now taking these humble seeds of these ideas and blowing them up to extraordinary expression. And so in reading your book, I had picked that up and I was really looking forward to this conversation today.

Speaker 3: Two points here that are excellent, they go in different directions. One thing that you talked about is, you know, I always sort of casually introduced myself as an old school punk rocker. And it's one, those most people hear that and they think, Oh, punk rock anarchy. They don't. And I'm like, no, no, no, this was DIY. This was self-expression do it. So that, it's a totally different thing. And there was, you know, there wasn't anarchy way, but there was also a different way. But the more important point is the bulk of my work is on the science of flow, right? The state, the optimal state of consciousness and flow States have triggers. And this was the biggest, you nailed the biggest deal about the action sport athletes in the nineties, creativity pattern recognition, the linking of ideas together is a very powerful flow trigger, right?

Speaker 3: It releases a little bit of dopamine. Dublin drives focus. You drive focus enough into the present moment you have flow. And that was the big deal in action sports. What happened in the nineties is one. They started living in such a way action sports communities started developing, right? So you essentially got access for skunkworks and skunkworks in general are built around foundational flow, trigger principles. And you, so you had that in the communities, but the values shifted. And that was the big deal up to that moment in time, fastest man or woman to the bottom one. And suddenly it was most creative line to the bottom, most creative way to interface with the way most creative way to interface with the sidewalk. That was what made you a winner. And it massively spiraled up the amount of flow, which essentially turbo boosted everything. And that to me, and we talk about that in the book, right?

Speaker 3: I always think about the axis, what athletes, they may creativity, their core value. It was the center of everything, right. They believed there was a, we were, our generation was very distressful of fame, of celebrity, of power, of commerce, of, of a lot of stuff like that. And so I like, I have to educate my staff these days. People that are a lot younger than me. I'm like, just because they're famous doesn't mean they're right, right. Like there's, there's a big difference here. Nobody in my generation would ever assume that you're right, because you're famous or powerful or rich, you would most likely distrust you. And then you'd have to earn that trust. If you came out of that world,

Speaker 4: I want to bring back this, this icon for all extreme sports. And this is leads into where you say where this creativity got hit. And then it blew up into sort of a fame and a power and its own. Self-destruction you're talking about Tony Alva. Other words, I'm going before that I'm going with evil Knievel. So he had taken motorcycle was the first action sports hero and hoop and take and bring Tony Alva into this. They had taking that same spirit as children watching evil Knievel on motorbikes. And they took that same attitude and creativity to the sports that they had around them, surfing and skateboarding. It was that same energy and excitement that surrounded evil Knievel that they wanted for themselves as young people. And they found it in the toys around them.

Speaker 3: You're totally right. And emphasis on your point, I was part of, you know, there were hotbeds for action. Sports squad Valley was one of them. And I was part of the Tahoe community in the nineties. Um, mostly, and there was another community in Jackson hole and Jackson hole. They were mountain men. They were very serious and they were amazing bad-ass athletes who pioneered all of Alaska, but the squad valid talk and led by Shane McConkey influenced by evil Knievel. The whole point was make, be, do the most bad-ass thing in the world and make fun of yourself along the way. Right. And it was, it was sort of the, that was that evil Knievel spirit. We saw a lot of people in costumes, right at the same kind of costumes. He was wearing Squaw Valley community. They call it podium gear, right. Everybody had to have their evil Knievel like costume when you won the X games or whatever in the early days. So there was a direct carry over from that lineage. You're totally right.

Speaker 1: Well, I want to touch on this idea of flow state and the connectedness of this community, because, you know, I remember watching documentaries now around this exact time period where skaters would see one skater pull off a trick and immediately it would pop in their mind another way that they could tweak that to make it their own. But no one had thought of this before. So how does this flow state in a community work? Because we've heard about flow state on a personal level, but how does it all interconnect?

Speaker 3: So you're asking a very cutting edge, the answers. We don't know I'm going to fumble around here for a little bit, cause I talk a lot and it's a fun question, but like the real answers, we don't have a clue, but flow is very, very involved in all kinds of all aspects of community bonding. Right? Most kind of, if you think about things that bond communities are really like blue collar level concerts, football games, those all these are experiences of community that's group flow at scale, right? So you can have individual flow me in a flow state. You could have group flow, it could be interpersonal flow. Me and you were one-on-one talking or could be the three of us group flow there's team flow, which is slightly different thing. We're not going to go there. And then you can go up and scale the community task, which is when you get it at a cultural level and obviously experiences a community.

Speaker 3: Us, you know, the people were writing about flow and the power and community. So the earliest in, in sort of the Western Canon that we find flow is Nicha and the term was originally great. It's Gerta who coined it. Roush was the German term for flow, but it was to describe like Dianne ECN, cultural, everybody got drunk. It was like early October Fest writer, burning man meets October fast and they needed a term to describe that. And they came up with Roush, has overflowing a flowing joy that sweeps up, right. The crowd. And, um, it was a core part of kind of niches philosophy in terms of self-improvement and things along those lines. And it just carried forward. The problem with the cutting-edge of flow research is on this stuff. The problem is it's hard enough to try to measure flow in an individual, but trying to measure flow in a, in a, in a group at once.

Speaker 3: Like our technology just isn't there yet, but it's getting there and we're getting closer. You know what? My flow research collective my organization is working on a biophysical based flow detector so they can measure, uh, neurological signals and physiological signals and tell are you in flow or not? And hopefully what you can do to get deeper into flow or to get into flow. If you're not, we think we're three to five years away from that. And we're not the only group working on it. Right? Like in fact, a couple of guys on my board are actually even competing against us. They have a different version of the same kind of thing. And to me, it's the more the merrier. I just want to solve the puzzle. So I don't, I don't really care who solves it. Let's just solve the puzzle. But group flow is sort of on the way. And there's a couple of groups who are, have been really looking hard at, can you precipitate group flow? Can you use technology? And they're starting to ask questions about measuring it. I don't know how far along they are. I haven't talked to those guys in about six months.

Speaker 1: I know that I've experienced it myself, strapped on a snowboard, very elusive quality for me outside of that, don't consider myself creative, more analytical. And we haven't really talked as much about flow on, on this show in particular because it's certainly not our expertise, but I would love to at least unpack on the individual level what the science shows and how our audience who maybe isn't in an action sport can work to start to tap into a flow state.

Speaker 3: We started there and look, I'll I'll, I'll gab about action sports all day long because I've got a background there. But the point really is that flow is actually fairly common in action sports, but it shows up people spend on average 5% of their work and flow often without even realizing it, the big telling detail for people. What sort of unlocks the mystery is flow is a spectrum experience. It's like any emotion, anger. You can be a little arc. You could be homicidally murderous. It's the same emotion, different ends of the spectrum. So flow is psychologically defined by, there are six core characteristics phenomenological. How does the state make you feel characteristics, complete concentration and the present moment, time dilation, would it be time passes? Strangely it speeds up or slows down. You'll get diminishment of self-consciousness self-awareness and certain noncritical bodily functions. In other words, you don't notice you have to go to the bathroom when you're in flow, right?

Speaker 3: There's a sense of control. There's a heightened sense of pleasure and enjoyment. What's known as an autotelic experience, meaning the end in itself. It means once an experience produces flow, we go really far out of our way to get more of it. So when those experiences are showed up, when all six are present, we call that experience flow. They can be, they can all show up and be dialed down to life one or two. And this is experience. We've all had you sit down to write a quickie email. You get sucked in and you'll look up an hour later. You've written an essay and maybe your sense of self didn't vanish, but you have to go to the bathroom and you just you're like, Oh God, I gotta, I gotta take a pee. Right? And you had no idea. Time was passing. That happens to all of us all the time.

Speaker 3: That's a micro flow stick. The opposite end of the spectrum is what you're talking about, which is much more common in access sports among other things. Macro flow state macro flow is such a peculiar, powerful, weird experience that we thought it was a, we meaning the scientific community, that it was a mystical experience until like the 1940s or fifties. It was a psychologist, Abraham Maslow who found flow is kind of a core trait among a group of extremely high achievers. He was studying, um, not just successful people, but people who had really great moral lives and were, had a lot of meaning and purpose in their life. That's he didn't mean high achievement the way we do. And Scott Barry Kaufman is, is on my staff. And when I misdefined any of the Maslow yells at me. And so I don't want to get my Bassler on because I'm tired of getting yelled at.

Speaker 3: Um, yeah. So macro flow is, you know, it's often described as a full load Mister experience now, you know, and we could talk about this obviously moving forward, but we understand the, you know, w the out of body experiences happen and flow. For example, sometimes in deep flow States, we now know why we know what in the brain is causing that we know all why the self go away. Why does time pass strangely? All these really so-called mischievous qualities. We now understand the neurobiology that doesn't make them any less emotionally powerful. You know what I mean? They're not any less mystical just because we understand where they come from. And I always say people on one side of the argument, they, they love the fact that there's biology underneath this so-called spiritual experience. I'm like, look, this proves nothing. It does it like if there's a God, it means God talks to us through our biology. If there's not a God that it means the biology works. And for some reason, these kinds of experiences are useful for us. It's one or the other, but it doesn't settle the discussion, the argument at all. So I'm not taking a position on theological position one way or the other on that.

Speaker 1: And this myth of the 10% of our brain in use, we hear it all the time. It's such a commonly used term. Can you help us debunk that? Because obviously,

Speaker 3: I think it's really funny because it's a William James of founding of founding fathers psychology. He made the statement and then Andrew Carnegie, and they can grow rich or Dale Carnegie, and they can grow rich misinterpreted what James wrote. And thus, we get the 10% brain myth, which is the idea that we're only using a small portion of our brain at any one time. So peak performance, AK flow, especially it must be the full brain on overdrive. And it turns out as you're smiling about it, we had it exactly backwards, right? In flow in our state of people Formance, we're not using more of the brain. We're actually using less of the brain. The technical term is hypofrontality. Hypo is the opposite of means of hyper. It means to deactivate, to shut down in front of reality, refers to the prefrontal cortex part of the brain that right back here, we used to think five, six years ago, that it was those whole portion of the brain that deactivated.

Speaker 3: Now we believe it's a more localized the activation, depending on what you're doing at the time. But needless to say, why does time pass? So strangely in flow, right? Why does time slow down and get a freeze for, of effect? Or why does it speed up? Well, because time is this network that's processed by a bunch of different structures and prefrontal, and like any network, the nodes start to shut down the whole thing, collapses. We lose the ability to separate past from present from future. Now it turns out that has enormous performance benefits for everybody, not just for action sport athletes. And this simple thing here is anxiety, as we all know is an enormous break on performance, right? It's one of the main destroyers of performance, anxiety, and fear. And most of our fears are either scary that happened in the past. We'd like to avoid from the present or it's horrible stuff that might maybe just could happen in the future.

Speaker 3: And we want to steer around. So if I remove past and future as options in your brain, you're plunged into what you know, psychologists talking about is the deep now, or the elongated now sometimes, or your poetically, the eternal present, right? Either way. Um, it means that our time processing is all screwed up, but as a result, because all this anxiety, plummets, stress, hormones get flushed out of our system, right? As we move into flow, you see, you see all the stress hormones get lower down in our system. Saving habits to our sense of self self is another construction is the prefrontal cortex working with deeper parts of the brain. But when the prefrontal cortex goes down, you lose your ability to create your sense of self what's the bonus here, your inner critic, that nagging always on defeat voice in your head, right? For the older folks in the crowd, your inner Woody Allen, right? Would he go silent and flow, right? And that's, that's a big deal. As a result, risk-taking goes way up, creativity goes way up. Innovation goes way up. Often productivity goes way up, right? Because you're no longer doubting every idea you have. You're no longer second guessing yourself. So all of these things are massively increased. We're literally, neurobiologically getting out of our own way, which I love.

Speaker 4: So Steven, one of the things that I was thinking about with this, and even in speaking about it in the, in this conversation, it brings, it brings me to this point, are we doing damage to our young children by not sticking them outside and telling them to go busy themselves? Um, rather than being in front of a screen with like being outside, using that imagination starts to open up pathways that will help children learn how to get in flow and fill flow, where if they're having this technology, they're not using these aspects, there's these parts of the brain they're actually hindering the development of the brain in, in those areas. And from the research that I've been seeing, it seems to me that those parts of the brain are not developing. And that makes me worried about the future.

Speaker 3: I always tell people, I have expert knowledge around flow and learning and flow and education. I have zero knowledge around children. I try very hard to stay in my lane. I don't have

Speaker 4: Children. I don't really like children.

Speaker 3: I don't like your children. I don't like people who have no. My point is I have a lot of people on my staff do have children, even though I've tried to talk them out of it. But, uh, I'm cautious as I approach a question. Cause I like, I like to know what I'm talking about before I answer it. But what I will, what I can speak to is certainly we evolved in certain kinds of environments. And the evidence is overwhelming. That access to nature is important for optimism is important for a good mood, right? It's in fact, by the way, it's when you have, when you looking at a wide Vista, as you get in nature, if you're looking at a mountain range, peripheral vision, when we look out the corners of our eyes, it calms us down automatically activates the parasympathetic nervous system. And it makes us more creative for a number of different reasons.

Speaker 3: So there's re there is actual real, I don't, I can't speak to children and what we should be doing in schools. Right. I don't, I that's just not an area I'm comfortable extending myself, but like, should everybody be doing this children and adults? Yeah. I mean, like, you know, all you need to know is a 20 minutes walk in the woods, outperforms all the SSRI is on the market. Um, that right. Plus the fact that it enhances creativity, plus the fact that it has this quality of life, plus the fact that it enhances mood in my experience, peak performers, any field doesn't matter what domain you're in are too busy to solve problems. One at a time you look for multi-tool solutions. You want to have a solution that will solve six or seven problems at once because you're too busy, going outside is a huge multi-tool solution.

Speaker 3: You've got exercise benefits there. You've got enhanced creativity benefits there. You've got a dance mood benefit there. You probably are going to enhance innovation. We know novelty, complexity, unpredictability, which are three things that are built into the natural world. These are all flow triggers. So you're going to get an increased amount of flow and we can like, we can go on and on, right? Like this is I'm stopping from, but I could, I could really do this for like the next 10 minutes in terms of the psychological and physiological benefits of being in nature a little bit. And I also say, I think there is though, this is not in the book and I'm not advising anybody to do this, but at a personal level, I like those no longer at the top of the food chain moments that you sometimes have in nature, right.

Speaker 3: Where, whether it's, you know, doing something, you know, access sports wise, where you're really playing with primal forces, gravity, things like that. Or, you know, I can't tell you how many times I've been hiking, a trail turned the corner and there's a bear, or there's a mountain line, or there's an awful lot, or right. Um, depending on which country I'm in or, you know, there's a Cobra and that's a really like, there's something about when you have that, that kind of encounter that pits all your day to day problems, like go back to your argument with your wife and you know what I mean? Your problem at after you've bumped into a bearer or Cobra and perspective is something you suddenly have, right? Like it's really, I find that very, very useful. And I think for a lot of people who sort of choose to live there, their life in that way, they would agree with me. I don't think this is something normal. People want anything to do with it. I'm not, you don't need to do this to perform at your best. But I do think it's a not disclosed, discussed benefit of nature, which is sometimes being in the face of overwhelming power is awesome. It's an amazingly good thing.

Speaker 1: Now I want to talk about these flow triggers because obviously action sports is one domain, probably not many in our audience are engaging in action. Sports. Many people in our audience are struggling a little bit with some social anxiety, frustrated that they can't get in flow with conversations with people and important job interviews are on a great first date. We've all had those moments where we've, we've instantly connected with someone. Time has disappeared. And all of a sudden you can't believe the conversation ended. How can we create those flow triggers or look for those flow triggers to create that state where we lower our anxiety and we allow ourselves to fully feel it. So

Speaker 3: Our 22 known flow triggers and the first thing we place, we want to start as the simplest flow follows focus. It only shows up when all of our attaches on the right here right now. So that's what all the triggers do. They drive attention into the present moment. If I were to put this neuro biologically, they do one of three things. They either drive norepinephrine into our system, which is a neurochemical. They drive dope mean in our system. Another neurochemical there, they lower cognitive load. Nope. Being a nor epinephrin that malt neurochemicals are multi tools. They do lots of different in the brain, but among the functions that dope man and nor epinephrin plane perform is focused, they massively enhance attention. And so, for example, if I put a little bit of norepinephrine Dublin into your system, that's the cocktail underneath curiosity. If I crank it up a lot more that's passion, right?

Speaker 3: Think about how much attention you paid. Anybody you've ever fallen in love with right for free. You didn't have to spend any work. You just couldn't stop looking at them, right? So that's what you get from nor epinephrin and dope mane and cognitive load is all the crap. You're trying to think about any one time. And if I lower cognitive load, I liberate a tremendous amount of energy that can be repurposed for the present moment attention. So that's what all the triggers do. There are 12 on the individual side, that'll get me into flow or you into flow. And then there are 12 or 10 on the group side. And there there's a lot of overlap between them. And you're asking sort of group flow triggers. So first off credit where credit is due. I did none of the research into group. Those triggers. It was all done by a very brilliant psychologist in Keith Sawyer, the university of North Carolina.

Speaker 3: And he actually did all this work. This is not in art and possible. I think the story is in a book of mine, but he was an improv jazz player. He was studying with me, high chicks, MEI, the godfather of flow psychology at the university of Chicago. He was a jazz musician and he started out as jazz musicians would get into these group flow experiences and he wanted to study it more. And he teamed up with second city television, which is the improv theater troupe comedy trip that feeds into Saturday night live and a whole bunch of other stuff like that has for years. And for 15 years, he was their jazz musician. He would like accompany their performances on the piano and film them and did frame by frame analysis. Basically like he could tell when the performers were in group flow, because the level of audience laughter went through the roof, right?

Speaker 3: Like the performance came, everybody came together, everybody's laughing. So you can check for that on the like soundtrack and say, okay, the hell was going on. And he like went frame by frame for 15 years. And he came up with these 10 triggers. So this, what you're looking for are those group flow triggers. And you'll notice that a lot of what I'm going to talk about, it's going to sound like stuff you probably had on the show. Cause it's going to sound like stuff that would be covered under psychological safety, for example, right? There's a, there's a tremendous amount of overlap between the group flow triggers, psychological safety. And in fact, I think the psychological safety discussion would be more informed if they understood group flow triggers. Cause there's a couple things in the psychological, the safety discussion that you want because it makes people feel safe and secure is important, but it actually could block good team performance.

Speaker 3: So we haven't yet negotiated some of this stuff. And some of it's like really obvious stuff when you're building a team, right? You want people of equal skill levels, roughly for the simple reason that, you know, if you're going to play basketball, there's five guys on the team and your point guards never played before. And your power forward is Karl Malone. You've got a problem, right? That's not Carlos. It's not going to be in flow at the Fort. Right. You know, or those of you who aren't as old as me, I've tried to think of a power forward of, I just, I, I was really into the Beverly bags. I don't know why we'll go with LeBron for bronze, for the younger audience I was going for Dre Mont. That's what I was getting stuck. I couldn't come up with the second half of his name.

Speaker 3: It was like, Dre, Dre, Dre, what's his name? Drake equal level of skill. You need familiarity for example. And that means like, I understand your ticks, your 10 tendencies, your language, right? You need common language. These are really important things. But the most important group flow's triggers is yes. And which is the first rule of improv, right? If right, if, if you go out to me and you're like, yo Steven, there's a blue elephant in the bathroom and I go shut up. No, there's not, that's not funny. It's not, story's going nowhere. But if I say, Oh crap, I hope he's not using up all the toilet paper. I really got to go right now. We can sort of roll into something that's even mildly amusing, at least in my head. Uh, but uh, my point is, and this doesn't by the way mean, because if you're familiar with the science of brainstorming, you know, that like just loving everybody's idea and going kumbaya is a lousy way that gives you group things.

Speaker 3: It doesn't give you innovation. Right. So yes. And is not about like kissing everybody's, but it's about finding something in the, an idea that you can be additive to. I can say, well, you know, almost everything you said, I'm not really down with, but the thing you had about Marshall amplifiers and fuzzy headed purple dowels, I am really into that, that that's going to go somewhere. Right? You can do it that way. So, and I also, I just want to say this cause I didn't get to say it earlier. There is a lot of analytical flow. It is a misnomer that flow when Mihai chick sent me, hi, who's the godfather of flow research started doing this work. He was trying to figure out what life is, why, why life is meaningful. And he was studying people in leisure activities. So he was looking at art and athletics.

Speaker 3: And so everybody sort of went, Oh, this must be for artists or athletes. And in fact this is, he's got a new textbook on flow and education that just came out and then the opening to the textbook, he says the same thing. He's like, yeah, I sort of made this mistake at the beginning. I was, you know, I was looking at it in this very specific framework. I work with accountants. We work, you know, we train a thousand people a month at the flow research. Collective 90% of them are C-suite executives. That's the vast majority of them. And usually our specialty is often super overstressed, burned out. You know, I was a peak performer and then I got super burned out and lost it. Like we, we trained so many of those people or our second largest population. And this is just this year. We, you know what I mean?

Speaker 3: But it changes is a powerhouse women in their forties and fifties who took time off to raise a family and are coming back and want, like they did some other job. Then they raised their family and they got a taste of, Oh, this is what passion feels like, okay, let's bring that into the workplace. How do I find that? How do I do that? Those, the vast majority of people we work with and a lot of them have very analytical jobs. And so flow in those environments is really common. It's a really a misnomer that it's just for athletes and for artists.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And I I've certainly fallen into that myth, myself, looking for it in my personal life. I think, you know, that brings up another interesting side of this, which I wanted to talk about. You know, obviously everyone understands peak performance. We would love to operate at our optimal best right now we're, we're living in a time where many of us are feeling burned out and less access to nature, less access to everything that was creating this opportunity for us to find flow. So for those in our audience who are facing burnout and looking to, to jumpstart and get back to where that performance was, and obviously you do this professionally with C-suite executives, what can we do? Number one, to identify that it's a state of burnout, because I think many of us are walking around in a fog, not realizing that it could be burnout.

Speaker 3: So first, I mean, there are very clear identifiable symptoms for burnout, right? It's a, I think it's a recognized disorder at this point. There's a bunch of the, you know, irritability is really high on the list to me when I know I'm burned out. It's always the feeling of, Oh my God, I'm going nowhere. Like I'm working really hard. And the quality of the work is I can't like it doesn't matter when I'm burned out. It doesn't matter how many times I write a paragraph. It's still. I can, like, I can rewrite it a hundred times, a hundred different ways and they're all crap. And there are precise. Neuro-biological reasons for that. And there's really good burnout diagnostics online, which is where I would for free. So I'll send people to there. Let's talk about the second half of the question, which is what the hell can you do about it?

Speaker 3: Right? And so here, and this is really stuff I cover in our impossible under cutting the idea of what I call the positive psychology basics. So positive psychology has sort of spent 30 years identifying six things, three on the physical side, like this is what you need to do for energy and three on the mental side, this is what you need to do to sort of like manicure your brain and turn down anxiety and calm the down. Right? And they're really not negotiables, but they're not all that arduous and there's options. So like on the physical side, there's three things to that that I think sit there. One is, and this is the first thing you could do. If you're burned out is sleep. We, human beings need seven to eight hours of sleep at night. You cannot perform at your best without seven, eight hours of sleep at night.

Speaker 3: There's no way around it. There's no other options. But if you're interested in reliable, repeatable, consistent peak performance, and I always tell people a couple of things you need to know right off the bat about peak performance, one peak performance is nothing more than getting your biology to work for you rather than against you. If there's right, there's no secret secret with nothing. There's just your biology. And it's just getting it to work for you again, not a new idea. A hundred years ago, William James says in the first psychology textbook ever read, he is the great thing. Then in any education is to get your, to make your nervous system, your ally, instead of your enemy, right? This is not new information. There's just our biology. And it works a specific certain way. And you just, there's no way around this one. And we're designed to function with seven, eight hours of sleep at night.

Speaker 3: Do you need that to function physically, if you start looking at the list of like we talked about multi-tool solutions, right? Sleep is sleep solves so many problems. It's insane to cut back on that second thing on the physical side, we're not going to linger here, but nutrition and hydration eat good food drink, plenty of water enough set. Right? And then the final thing, and this is often, this is often talked about as this positive psychology basic, but the people would have on the cognitive side. And there's a mistake there. And I'll explain it in a minute, which is social sport. Chris Peterson at brilliant, uh, positive psychologist at the university of Michigan says you can sum up 30 years in positive psychology in one phrase, which is other people matter. We are social creatures. We're hardwired conduct the reasons on the energy side at a, like everybody's had this experience, you know, you get in a fight with your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your boss, your sister, your mom, and then you try to go to work.

Speaker 3: How well can you focus? How much energy do you have? Right. It's impinging on you physically. What people also don't realize is any time you encounter a challenge, a problem, anything your brain does an instantaneous risk assessment. And part of that risk assessment is do I got posse? Cause if you've got to solve a problem alone, that's a big problem could be. But if you've got six or seven friends, family backing you up lesser problem, even if they're not immediately with you and you like, you get fired at work, you know, somebody's gonna feed you and put a roof over your head. You know, if this podcast that doesn't work out so well for you guys, you know what I mean? Hopefully yeah. Fingers crossed, right? What is this eight years now? How many years have you been doing this? It's a while. Right? Is it that long? Wow.

Speaker 1: Well, I want to touch on that. Cause those, those three physical, you know, they're so blaringly obvious.

Speaker 3: Let me add one thing in that people miss, and then we'll get, we'll go back to, yes. They're glaringly obvious. What I always tell people, this is important is under normal conditions, you can usually screw up one a day, right? Like you can't do it every day. You got to get them right. A bunch, but you can screw up one a day and like steal, probably perform at your best. You can't get enough sleep, but you've dialed in social support and you've hydrated and you're eating right. You probably can power through and do it under stress conditions, which is the question you asked. And that's why I cut you off in wanting to get this out is I don't think you can screw up on any of them. Like I don't, I like under two dish under what we've been dealing with, whether it's the economy, our COVID the election. I mean, take your pick up of everything that we've gone through over the past year and the turbulence, it brought to all of us. I don't think we get to skimp on money. One of those. Okay. So I cut you off. What were you going to say? I'm sorry.

Speaker 1: I, I was just gonna say we we've now been forced in a position where we're trying to escape what's going on. So we're staying up later. Watching shows, not really getting the sleep that we need. We're reaching for comfort food and things that maybe aren't as nutritious as we were eating pre pandemic. And then on top of it, we've removed the social component from our work we're on zoom. We're just quickly having meetings, getting onto the next thing we're zoned in on our work where maybe not seeing family and friends. So it's real easy to see how those three physical have been

Speaker 3: Drastically impacted by what's going on around us. We're not really realizing it because everyone's going through it at the same time. And it's all sort of compounding. We're going to come back to your idea to have a second after we come to the other side, because the other side is the cognitive side. Right? And it's how do we deal with the anxiety and so much peak performance, including flow too much anxiety, which is actually the same neurochemicals nor epinephrin right. If I give you a little bit, you get curiosity. I give you a little bit more. You get passionate. I give you a little bit more. You get anxiety and worry at all. All right. And I give you even more. You you're into schizophrenia and other actual, real like long-term problems. But uh, what do we do to control that? Well, there's three things, but daily gratitude practice. And one, I want to, I want to start with the science because when I say gratitude, I mean nothing. Wishy-washy I, we're not talking about new age spiritual, anything we do extensive work with Dr. Glenn Fox and USC is the world's leading expert on the neuro biology of gratitude. Um,

Speaker 4: Well, Steven, before you get into the science, I want to set this up really quick for you because we've of course had, uh, certainly in our years of podcasting meditation, gurus on the show and everyone there's plenty of people who even had David Meltzer on a few weeks ago, who talked about why gratitude changed his life. So in reading your book and I saw the signs, I was like, yes. Finally, something that we can point to that shows right. Otherwise

Speaker 3: And nuts. And why like, yeah, no, I totally agree. And there's, there's two things to know like one affirmations, which is the new age, spiritual side literally are disasters. They don't work on and we'll talk about why and gratitude works and the reason, so the thing you have to understand is that one we have what is known as a negativity bias. We take in more negative information than positive information. Now we take in 11 million bits of information a second by our senses that doesn't, this is nothing internal. We also generate a lot of internal stuff, but a guy named Marvin Zimmerman measured it. And according to his measurements, it's 11 million bits of information, a second consciousness. What you're aware of, what you can pay attention to. It's 300 bits of information at once. Maybe 2000 bits at max. People have gone back and forth about what the number is.

Speaker 3: But then to put that in context, you're listening to, we talk, that's requiring 60 bits of information. If we're both talking at once, you're up to 120. If we add you, we've maxed everybody out. So somewhere between like 120 and 180 is our threshold, but nobody is very hard to listen to three people talk at once and process the information. You usually lose somebody. So that's the threshold. So we take in nine negative bits of information for every one positive bit that gets through now, optimism is a huge driver of peak performance. We were performed better when we're optimistic. So that's a problem right then. And there also novelty is the foundational ingredient in creativity. And if we're taking in nine negative things, most of this, that's negative. It's stuff we've seen before. Right? Very rarely is this stuff that scares us totally out of the blue every now and at COVID happens.

Speaker 3: But it's usually like, Oh, the terrorists are back. Now. We've got to worry about that again. Oh, another diseases, right? Like it's cycles. My point is that when you do a daily gratitude practice, this tips, the ratio and daily gratitude practices, you know, you've probably covered this on your show before, but it's lists three things you're grateful for. And turn one of them into a paragraph it's a five minute practice or list 10 things you're grateful for. And just really try to feel the gratitude. And what you do is you tip the brain's negativity bias. You start taking like six to one instead of nine to one or five to one. And this is a huge, huge deal. And the reason gratitude works and affirmations don't work is your brain has a fantastic Bolton, detection. We all know this. You can't lie to yourself.

Speaker 3: You can lie to almost everybody else. When you cannot lie to yourself for too low, you can't look in there and go, I am a millionaire. I'm a millionaire. I'm a millionaire. If you work at Walmart, your brain goes, dude, shut up. You work at Walmart. And that's massively demotivate. Really, really, really de-motivating right. We're going in the exact opposite direction. So gratitude for one works because it tips the negativity bias a little bit in our favor. And we also know this is work that we did with Glenn is that a regular gratitude practice actually makes you more prone to flow. So it's got a direct correlation with frequency of flow. The next thing is mindfulness, right? You've had guys talking meditation. The thing that I think gets lost is you don't need all that much mindfulness, right? Like if you're really just going for the cognitive benefits and another again, mindfulness respiration, really good multi-tool solution solves a lot of different cognitive issues, emotional regulation, focused attention, just a lot of good stuff.

Speaker 3: But 11 minutes a day of breath work is enough to do it right? And the final thing you can do for your head is exercise 20 to 40 minutes of exercise. And by the way, what do you get? Then you get exercise induced, transient hypofrontality, the deactivation of the prefrontal cortex we talked about earlier, right? That's what happens when it gets you work out in the gym, it gets quiet upstairs about 20, 25 minutes in that's what's happening. Your prefrontal cortex is deactivating and it's an efficiency exchange. Literally your brain says, Oh, you need a lot of energy. Cause you got need to focus on the treadmill. You're running on what? Shut off non-critical structures. That's what happens. The point on the cognitive side is five minute gratitude practice, 11 minute mindfulness or 20 to 40 minutes of exercise. Pick one a day. You don't need to do all three.

Speaker 3: And in crisis situations, COVID where we are right now. If you're burned out, et cetera, et cetera, maybe two out of three, right? For the first in, back in March during the lockdown, I was, you know, I was exercising every day. I was meditating every day I was doing gratitude work every day and I was doing all six, you know, all the, uh, sleeping seven, eight hours a night. And all these things are rich skills in a sense, right? We talk about when we train people in recovery, the art of recovery at the flow research collective, which is crucially important. And by the way, if you're burned out active recovery is the next thing you have to add in, right? That's the other right? We'll we can talk about the cure for burnout and a half a second. But these are the six things to start with the net.

Speaker 3: If you want. There's two things I'd add. If you're burnt out, which is, we all have what is known as a primary flow activity. This is whatever that thing you did as a kid that just automatically dropped you into flow. Maybe it was dancing to hip hop, maybe was coloring. Maybe it was going to the natural history museum and staring at dinosaur bones. Maybe it was skiing in my case, or, you know what I mean? There's skateboarding in years, but we all had that activity. And usually as we become adults, it goes away, right? Like I've got responsibilities, I've got work. This is the thing we hang up. But the couple of things to know, one flow is essentially a focusing skill. So the more flow you get, the more flow you get. I go skiing on Monday. It means that I'm going to have an easier time getting it to flow on Thursday because I'm training my brain out of focus in that way.

Speaker 3: Also creativity, innovation, it massively heightened and flow 400 to 700%, depending on whose studies you're looking at and a workout. A Harvard shows that that heightened creativity will outlast the flow state by a day, maybe two, you go skiing on Monday or skating on Monday, right? That heightened creativity, heightened problem, solving innovation, all that stuff. It could be with you till Wednesday. This is a huge bonus. And it's an enormous because when we move into flow, there's a global release of a chemical, a nitric oxide. It's a gas, a signaling molecule is everywhere in the body, completely flushes all the stress hormones out of our system. So it resets the nervous system. If you're burned out, you can't reset your nervous system. That's one of the reasons you're burned out. So automatize is that. And the other thing that I want to add for the burnout crowd is active recovery.

Speaker 3: Passive recovery is I worked all day. It's a TV at a beer, and that actually blocks what you want. Active recovery, Epsom, salt, bath, infrared, sauna, dry sauna, restorative yoga, a long walk in nature to go back to the earlier topic, right? Gardening, any of these things, these are sort of restorative, active recovery, get a massage foam rollers, take your pick. But we have founded the flow research collective that if you are sort of paying attention to the positive psychology basics, and I don't mean like you're anal, I get it right every single day I do. All right. I mean, you're just trying to be smart about it and you get regular once a week access to flow through a flow. Even if it's just 20 minutes, a half an hour an hour, and you have an active recovery protocol. We don't have data on this yet, but as far as we can tell you can't burn out. Like it seems to be prophylactic against burnout. And I got to use prophylactic in a sentence. So there, especially around burnout, not expecting that,

Speaker 4: I certainly know for myself with COVID. Uh, one of my activities was my social life of performance of, of playing music with my band of getting into the rehearsal room. All that was taken from me during COVID and Aja dose. For me, that was such a large part of my life. I've been playing in bands since I was 15 years old. I love those moments on stage, or even, even just getting in the room with the guys and drifting off for an, a sound soundscape for a few hours. Having that taken from me has made me during COVID incredibly irritable, not being able to focus and I've had to set time just to pick up my guitar and, and the times of where I would find myself in rehearsals, I would have to find that time again. And that has been the most difficult part of COVID for myself of having that opportunity taken.

Speaker 3: I will say I worked essentially seven years straight to get to a book that was published last January, called futures faster than you think for a lot of different reasons. And I was going to literally, I worked seven years straight without even a vacation. Um, other than going skiing for like half day, you know what I mean? I was going to ski all of March, April and may. I was just done. I was I've had enough soon as Peter and I were like first day of our book tour was the day COVID hit. I shut the ski resort. I got no for seven years. I was aiming for this. Just make it here. Just make it here. Right? One of the founding ideas underneath resilience is setting long-term is turning current strive into longterm goals. And so what I basically said to myself is the only way I'm going to not go crazy from losing out on the skiing.

Speaker 3: And the access to flow is going to give me was if I could. And the goal I set was I needed to enter ski season this season when they reopened the resorts, which happened this week, a better skier than I ended last year. And so I was like, well, how do I do that? And I created this crazy trading program that I could do without gyms over the summer. And I also, you know, I added a couple more things into it, but I Fe I, this isn't really something we talked about in our Basel, but you're bringing it up. I find that with those kinds of challenges, you can long-term goal setting. We don't talk about this a lot. I know a little bit in our impossible, but because of how we filter information, because it's this huge right. 11 million down to 300, what do we filter?

Speaker 3: What, what are filters? Well, fear is one. Obviously we talked about that. What's the other half goals. That's the other big filter is that our filter on reality is our fears and our goals. We essentially don't live in reality, right? We live in a reality created by our fears and our goals. That's most of the world we're in all the time. And so if you don't have, like, if you are getting your kicked in some way, I can't play music with my band, which I is a high flow thing, really fought, blah, blah, blah. I can see all the problems there. I would say, okay, then I'm going to say musical challenges and goals that you could accomplish on your own so that when you come back to it, well, after these, after our vaccine show up, perhaps right, that would be my work around for that because it was the only way I stayed sane and nobody was happier to be skiing this week

Speaker 5: At me,

Speaker 1: Glad you got out there. Like I cannot

Speaker 3: Lift my arm above here because I hit the ground so hard. Cause I was like, just deciding that I was going to, I like, I D I got better. I learned a bunch of freestyle tricks over like on Darren. And then I brought them into the, uh, on the snow. And let's just say, they didn't all go as planned. I entered the season stronger and better than I finished last season, but they, there were some errors

Speaker 5: Which is completely normal.

Speaker 3: It didn't hit the ground rather hard about 50 times, two days ago.

Speaker 1: Now in the setup to the book, everyone understands art of impossible, the capital. I impossible the moonshots and you know, the people that are absolutely extraordinary that we look up to, but I love this idea of dialing it down to the lower case. I, and bringing it into your own life. We've sort of danced around it. We've talked about a few parts of the stack, but I would love as we wrap here to really just cover what this impossible stack is and how we can turn that small. I impossible for ourselves with neuroscience into something that we're capable of.

Speaker 3: So there's two ideas here. One we already talked about, which is peak performance is nothing more than getting your biology to work for you rather than I guess you, so there's a limited suite of biology, biological tools that I'll get, then you can use to take on super hard challenges. But I want to go to your point, thank you for bringing this up because, um, it's a great point and it's worth making there. We're all familiar with capitalized impossibles as you point. This is Alex Honnold climbing El cap. This is Rosa parks sitting at the front of the bus. This is Einstein. The theory of relativity, right? These are the white Wright brothers. These are the impossible, very with capital I and possible that which has never been done. There's also a small lion possible, which is that, which we believe is impossible for us.

Speaker 3: And you know, the simple example I gave, um, was when I was grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, right? Blue collar, kind of, kind of childhood. I wanted to be a writer from the time I was four years. I didn't know any writers. I mean, that would be like me waking up one day and being like, okay, I want to be an elf or a dwarf. I think I'd be a dwarf. What I mean by that is no clear path between point a and B and statistically horribly bad odds is success, but also that's a small lion possible, but so is rising out of poverty or overcoming deep trauma, or figuring out how to get paid, doing what you love for a living, right? These are all small. I impossible. Small I impossible is that, which we believe is impossible for us. Very few people set out to accomplish capital.

Speaker 3: I impossible. That's not what they set out to accomplish. They set out to accomplish small lion possible and they do the first one and they're like, Oh wow. I pulled myself out of poverty or I overcome came out. I lost a leg or I was raped or whatever it was, it was horrifying. I, Oh, what else could I do? What can I do next? What can I do next? What could I do next? And if you accomplish enough, small lie, impossibles, sooner or later, you will start pushing into capital. I impossible. Right? It's what happens. The actual formula is actually fairly simple. It's when you're talking about human peak performance, you need the motivation to get you into the game. And motivation is a catchall, right? It, when psychologists talk about motivation, they're talking about intrinsic motivation, curiosity, passion, purpose, right? They're also talking about goals and grit.

Speaker 3: And in a sense you need the motivation to get into the game. Goals, tell you where you're going. Grit is keeps you going. Then you need learning, right? Cause learning allows you to continue to play. And then you need creativity. Cause that's how you steer, right? That's how you get where you want to go. That's the self-expression we talked about earlier. And finally you need flow to turbo, boost everything beyond all reasonable expectations. And that's literally that's the system is designed to work that way literally in that order, right? Like the system is designed to start with really basic intrinsic motivators. Curiosity. Curiosity is designed to be built into passion. Passion is designed to be built into purpose. Once you have purpose, what do you need? Autonomy. Another big intrinsic motivated the freedom to pursue your purpose. Once you're free to pursue your purpose, what do you need now? Mastery the skills to pursue that purpose. Well, okay. I've got the skills. I've got the freedom. What do I need now? I need goals. Where the am I going? Right. Like it's very common sensical. And the neurobiology follows the common in a sense in it. That was an awkward sentence. But you

Speaker 1: Well, and I want to start at the beginning because we have a certainly clients over the years who come to us feeling a lack of curiosity, and it then becomes difficult obviously to get on this journey of impossible. Without that starting point. And in the book, you had a great challenge that I would love to share with our audience around building up this curiosity,

Speaker 3: Easier for your audience. We're going to send your audience to passion, recipe.com and the whole footprint thing. You're going to put people through a beautiful, we put it up, we built it. A good friend of ours built the coolest interactive PDF for the whole thing. So it's like, we've got a sexy tech underneath the passion recipe. Now it's even better than it is in the book. But yeah, so passion has to be.com is where we're sending people. But it's literally, this is how you call it. The V8 curiosity. This is how you turn curiosity into passion. This is how you turn. That should have purpose. And certainly this is one of those dividing lines for a lot of people, right? Some people, your music, my skiing and riding, like I known what I wanted to do since I was four. And the puzzle was how to do it.

Speaker 3: Right. Right. Other people are like, Oh my God. But the couple of things to say here, I say this in the book, but it's you always have to remember passion on the front end when you're starting. It never looks like passion on the back end. Right. And I say, what does a passionate athlete look like? And you're you got LeBron James, it's the windmill scalp dunk in the finals, right. Over some four point guards head. We'd be like with that skull on his face that he gets like, that's what we think of as passion. Right. And we forget that on the front end pass. She's just like a little kid in a driveway shooting a ball through a hoop. Right. That's what it looks like on the front end. And it looks like that for all of us and curiosity and passion. Like it's a learning process.

Speaker 3: And as a learning process, the rule is the same. You're going to suck until you don't. Right. So our experiences, I suck. I suck. I suck. I suck. Oh wow. I don't suck. Right. That's and that's everybody in the worlds, right? Like my friend who we were, we were with Andrew Yurman, who's a neuroscientist at Stanford. And he says, the thing that people are formers always know that most people don't know is it's always crawl, walk, run. Most everybody else comes in going. I want a shortcut. I don't want to, I'm not going to crawl. And I'm really not all that interested in walking. Can I, can I jog? I could just start out. I'm going to find some way I'm going to get jiggy and get started a jog. Right. And peak performers know that it's always like all of us, it doesn't matter who you are.

Speaker 3: You could be best in the world at whatever. When you switch to something new, whatever it is, it could be turning your in fashion. It's always crawl, walk, run. And so people just don't waste any time. Like it's not that they're even, they're going to get there faster. It's not that they're faster than you it's that you're it around. Trying to look for a shortcut and peak performers are just like, yeah, there are no short. Like we just like, you know, this is how you learn this the hard way, which I think is incredibly useful. When you approach these ideas, you were saying something,

Speaker 4: Well, I just want to add to that and finding other people who are at your level at skillset to build community, to be able to do it together. Because as you said, you can't lone Wolf, this stuff. Well, you can, but it's, it's hard. It's very difficult. But if you have others around you who are just excited about this new thing that you all suck at, you can all go out there and suck at it together in a, have a blast. And for ourselves, with our community is pairing up everyone to work on these things that they're, they're all walking into for the first time and having fun with it. And anything that you can surround yourself with other people at that level who are passionate about it, or at least curious, you will turn it into fun.

Speaker 3: I agree. And I, and by the way, I'm an introvert lone Wolf. Like I that's how I'm wired. Like I really am. Um, my wife is too, like both of us will spend 14, 15 hours a day by ourselves, not talking to anybody and I'll go down to writing a whole. And I won't talk to her. I won't even talk to her much for months on end, but I will say that it has it's right with flow size and research. There's like, I'm one guy, like, how do you run experiments by yours? You know what I mean? Like you need this so much and it's, so it is more fun. Um, and I'm the biggest lone Wolf. And I love that, but it is more fun if you can do it together. Well, we love this line. Both of us frustration, isn't the sign you're moving in the wrong direction.

Speaker 3: It's the sign you're moving in the right direction. And this dovetails brilliantly, that's a cognitive load issue, right? Like flow is the best we get to feel on the planet, but there's a struggle phase. It starts with struggle. And so this is not in the book. Maybe it is as a line, but this is work we're doing right now. It appears that you will always need to at least trigger the fight response to get into flow. So even if it only lasts a second, right, like you're gonna have to get gritty and aggressive for just a nanosecond, um, on the front end a flow. So you're not gonna ever avoid the struggle. And yeah, I think this is an education comment, right? This is the thing I do tell parents, which is like, you have to teach this to your kids because when I was growing up, I thought when I got frustrated and I couldn't learn something and I was, I was doing something wrong, right?

Speaker 3: Like I was like, Oh, it's a sign. You're going in the right direction. This was also, this is another story in the book that I thought for a really long time until Laird Hamilton set me straight. I thought courage meant not feeling fear. Everybody feels this terrible. You just do it anyways. I thought to be courageous, I had to not feel fear. I was like, I don't know how to do that. I'm scared of everything, but I can learn to ignore the fear and go right at it. If that's, you know what I mean? Yeah.

Speaker 1: Staring down the fear. And I think that's such an important lesson because there are so many things in life that frustrate us and we drop them and we don't even get to the state that we could get curious to start the path to flow. We feel frustration and we back away and we say, that's for someone else. And we never really pushed through that. And to realize that that's a signal that we're on the right track, not going in the wrong

Speaker 3: Direction. It's even better than that. Like not only is it signal you're on the right truck. There's overwhelming evidence. And, uh, David David Epstein, who I read about David's work in art, impossible. He's a friend. He talks about this a lot more in range, but the science is really clear. You cannot predict what you're going to be good at or what you're going to like before doing it. And actually before getting good at it, right? Like literally this is, you can take a perfect, you can go to LeBron James and say, okay, you are obviously a professional athlete. You know, your body's super well, let's say LeBron's never played highlight right. Or badminton. And you can say, LeBron, do you think you're going to like highlight or badminton or lacrosse? If he's not played those sports, even with his level of physical prowess, he's not an accurate judge of whether or not he's going to like it or be good at it, which is crazy. But it seems to be true. So you can't like your frustration is a sign you're moving in the right direction and honest to God until you get past the frustration, you have no idea if you're going to like it or be good at it.

Speaker 1: For me, that's golf. What I think about professional athletes as they retire, try to take up golf and seeing just how frustrated Charles Barkley was over the weekend. We look at athletes that we, we assume that things just come naturally to them. That frustration was not a part of that journey at all. And I love that you point that out.

Speaker 3: Yeah. You know, Laird Hamilton and I talk about something else. That's very similar along those lines. Uh, I don't know if this is in the book, but he's, he is to this to me. He's like, you know, people see me on a 50 foot wave or a hundred foot wave and they think, Oh, I could never freaking do that. Like, that's impossible. I could never do. That is like what? They didn't see as three. Three-year-old me on a three foot wave and four year old man, a four foot wave and five-year-old man, a five foot wave, right? Like people look at that and go, Oh my God, that's crazy. That's impossible. And for him, like a week ago you served a 49 and a half foot wave. So what he's doing today is like, it's a half a foot harder for him, but you're the everything else is completely invisible to you. And so you don't see that and you write and you miss all of that stuff. Well, now we have the technology, the videos for

Speaker 2: All of these athletes. I always think about Tony Hawk. We basically have watched his career from 13 years old. You know, which, which is just remarkable.

Speaker 3: Now we love to ask every guest what their X factor is, what sets them apart, skillset and mindset to make them successful. Obviously locking yourself up for seven years to write a book. You know, if you things about your own X factor, how would you define your X factor? People will tell you that I'm willing to outwork anybody. I just always assumed that I wasn't the smartest guy or the most talented guy, but I don't get into anything. If I can't try to be best in the world, if I'm going to do it, I want to be best in the world. I want to try to be best in the world. Otherwise I don't get involved. So if you actually ask me, I think what I, the Y X factor is everything I've done has I it's because I think macroscopically very well. I, so I, I can think very, very, very broadly inside when I was a journalist, I was what was known as a big think writer, which sounds fancy what it means.

Speaker 3: I work at the intersection of subjects, right? There's a, you want to like crawl down a money trail. I'm not your guy. That's a different kind of thing. But like, if you want to know, where does politics and religion and action sports intersect and go find a story there, I'm your guy. And it's because I think naturally at a systems level. So thinking microscopically was very difficult for me. I have to know the big picture framework before I can understand it. And I don't know if that's an actual skill or the fact that I was interested in things like systems analysis and evolution and how rainforests work and those kinds of questions that forced you to learn to think that way. So I don't know which if it was natural or came first, that, and the fact that I love to read, I mean, you know what I mean, like books are where they keep the secrets folks. Right?

Speaker 2: I, I love that saying

Speaker 3: We would love our audience to read your latest, the art of impossible. Thank you so much for joining us. This is such a pleasure. And it was my pleasure. Thank you guys.

Speaker 6: [inaudible]

Speaker 3: Uh, Johnny, we got a big shout out this week. Yes.

Speaker 2: Congratulations to our latest group of core confidence graduates. We really enjoyed our party. This past weekend, you guys rocked the challenges and celebrated each other's wins and made lifelong friendships connections. It was wonderful to be a part of such a spectacular adventure. Nothing

Speaker 3: Fires me up more than helping our guys and gals build real confidence in six weeks. The transformation is so remarkable and I can't wait to see what your rock stars will do next.

Speaker 2: If you want to join in on the fun and participate in the next group, kicking off this Saturday at 9:00 AM PST, visit the art of charm.com/core. That's the art of charm.com/

Speaker 1: That's right guys and gals can join us in unlocking your real confidence. Now we love hearing from you, let us know. We're always excited to help support you, answer your questions. And of course, any guest suggestions you have for us, you can send us your thoughts by going to the art of charm.com/questions. You can also email us [email protected] as always. You can find us on social media at the art of charm on Facebook, Instagram, and Johnny's favorite Twitter.

Speaker 2: Do you ever see flashes of your potential?

Speaker 1: Maybe it's at work where you share a breakthrough idea that everyone loves, or maybe it's in your romantic life, where you totally connect on a first date and get that all important. Second date

Speaker 2: Ever wish you could bottle those moments and be that way all the time.

Speaker 1: You know, you can do be and have more in your life, but it always feels like one step forward. And then two steps back. For every moment you see a flash of the person, you can be, there are moments where opportunities or even people pass you by. Now, there are two ways to look at what's happening.

Speaker 2: This is just who I am, and I have to accept my life will always be this way, or I have the potential to live an extraordinary life. And now I just need the guidance to help me make it happen faster on my terms.

Speaker 1: If you see yourself in option number two, your exactly who we help add the art of charm, our X-Factor accelerator mentorship program is created to support mentor and guide individuals who don't just want extraordinary moments, but an extraordinary life. Everyone has the ability to connect, communicate and be confident, but we focused on how you can master those skills and use them to create incredible results in your extraordinary life. We teach you the science behind these human behaviors, strategies to build new, consistent habits and Johnny and I hold you accountable. So you make real progress. Consistency is something we all struggle with. It's not just you.

Speaker 2: Billionaire is elite special ops and professional athletes have all come to us for coaching because they all know what it takes to achieve those successes they want. Are you ready to level up to

Speaker 1: Join us today at unlock your X-Factor dot com let's master conversation, build real connection and supercharge your confidence together. Apply now at unlock your X-Factor dot com. We thank you for listening to this Epic episode with Steven Kotler. Could you do Johnny and I a quick favor, head on over to Apple podcasts and rate this show. It means the world to us, it allows us to get fantastic guests like Steven on, and of course, always looking to improve

Speaker 2: And grow to help you. The art of charm podcast is produced by Michael heroine and Eric Montgomery until next week. I'm Johnny and I'm J have a killer week.

Speaker 6: [inaudible].

Check in with AJ and Johnny!

AJ Harbinger - author of 1144 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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