Our guest today is Steven Kotler, best-selling author and renowned Flow-State expert. Steven is the author of 9 best-selling books (3 of which are NYT Best-Sellers), which include The Art of Impossible, Stealing Fire, The Rise of Superman (Rise of Superman was my initial introduction to Steven’s work) and others. His work has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes, translated into 40 languages, and has appeared in over 100 publications.
Steven is the executive director of the Flow Research Collective, and is one of the world’s leading experts on human performance. He has been involved in a number of extreme sports, such as surfing, downhill mountain biking and skiing, and has learned (and participated with) from a number of the world’s greatest athletes in this arena.
One element of athletic performance that I’m adamant about pursuing is the idea that we must get outside the known field of “athletic performance” and into other fields of human performance to maximize our service to the athletes we train. We can only grow so much without “getting outside of the box” of our typical field education and integrating more global concepts of human performance.
In this podcast with Steven Kotler, we discuss numerous elements of neuro-biology and flow as it relates to goal setting, burnout, skill progression, career progression, and much more. This was a podcast that truly integrates many concepts coaches (hopefully) are familiar with, and helps us to understand them more fully from a biological perspective, as well as one we can also integrate into our daily lives.
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Timestamps and Main Points
5:50 Steven’s favorite extreme sport memory in his years of working alongside many elite athletes
10:10 How risk of injury (or death) impacts a sport from multiple perspectives
14:35 Goal setting for athletes, with a perspective on general biological principles
25:50 Motivational factors for athletes across their career, and why some athletes may burnout
34:55 How solving multiple problems at once is a key to getting more flow out of mundane activities
41:40 Clarifying how coaches can disturb progress in regards to mastery as a motivational tool
45:30 Challenge-skill balance in sport training and optimal progression models in regards to flow states
53:25 The importance of social support networks in facilitation of flow and athletic performance
57:10 How to manage flow with strength work, and how having one big flow day can impact the next few weeks of your training
1:02.50 How to manage the “dial of flow” in regards to daily practice
“I always say, “If you can’t get seriously injured, it’s not really a sport” and I know a lot of people who play tennis or golf would disagree with me, and I’m happy for the argument… I do think it’s a different game when that is the stakes”
“The interesting thing about peak performance is that, it doesn’t matter if you are going after capital “I” Impossible, or you are trying to improve your tennis game, or you are trying to be a little better at work, the biology is the same, the tool-set is the same, and how you get there is the same”
“(In extreme sports with potential mortal consequences) On the inside, it doesn’t feel like that, it feels like progression in any other sport”
“We live in a reality that is shaped by 2 things, our fears and our goals”
“For sure you need 3 levels of goals in your life… Mission levels goals (I want to be a great runner), high-hard goals (1-5 year step, run the New York Marathon), then you need clear goals, your daily to do list”
“Clear goals are one of the pre-conditions that lead to flow”
“Properly set high-hard goals will increase motivation by 11-25%”
“The biggest driver for humans is meaningful pro...