One of the books I read in 2015 is a book entitled ” The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” by Steven Kotler.
The book looked at the death-defying achievements of Extreme Sports athletes: mountain climbers, base jumpers, wingsuit divers, skateboarders, surfers, and other daredevils. At times, reading it felt like the equivalent of drinking two cans of Red Bull–adrenaline pumping, awe inducing, and it sometimes feel too incredible to be true.
But the book is not about extreme sports and adventure. It’s really about the concept of “Flow” and how it can be hacked to help us improve our performance and achieve our goals more effectively and more efficiently.
I’ve written elsewhere (like in my book Start Up: Find your place. Engage the world. Sustain your life.) that I am a big fan of the 10,000 hours observation popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book.
It turns out that there is a way to shortcut those 10,000 hours. And the secret to it is the concept of FLOW, which was studied and popularized by a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (it looks difficult, but it’s pronounced “chicksent-me-high”) who studied creativity and what motivates and deeply satisfies people.
He defined the “FLOW state” as “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”