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Human Performance Expert Steven Kotler on Achieving Peak Performance

What makes certain people achieve unbelievable results in their lives and in business?

How do top athletes and performers tap into flow states to get better, more consistent results than the rest of us?

These are some of the issues we raised when interviewing human performance expert, Steven Kotler, for our The Art of Making Things Happen Podcast.

Steven Kotler is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author and is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on the topic.

As a director of the Flow Research Collective, he has been exploring human potential and digging deep into the neurobiology that underpins peak performance.

Read on to learn Kotler’s top insights when it comes to flow states, and how anyone can experience peak performance for themselves.

What is flow state?

In simple terms, an individual experiencing flow is in an optimal state of consciousness whereby they are so absorbed in the activity at hand that everything around them, and every distraction in the pursuit of their goals, seem to vanish into thin air.

They will feel at their best and deeply focussed on the task in front of them. As a result of being in such a state, they can produce and sustain dramatically better results.

According to Kotler, a state of flow is part of evolution and is a universal gift that is available to all of us, so that we may perform at our absolute best. When in flow, our perception of time is altered, and it seems to go by much faster than normal as we are deeply engaged in the moment.

Kotler describes flow as “a massive uptick in performance” which cuts across both physical and mental aspects of our lives.

How long can one stay in flow?

There is no hard and fast rule, Kotler explains. In situations where a group of individuals are working towards a common goal such as launching a startup, it is possible to experience “altruism-based flow”. This version of flow is called “helper’s high” – and can be sustained over a day or two.

In normal circumstances, flow tends to be limited to around 90 minutes, as the neurochemicals induced by this state can only last for so long.

However, flow is only one of the components behind peak human performance.

What are the components of peak performance?

In his latest book “The Art of Impossible, Kotler explores ways super high achievers get to peak states by exceeding their own expectations and going beyond their limits.

Having trained over a hundred thousand individuals, Kotler has been able to distil the key components of extraordinary performance and ticking off seemingly impossible goals.

In the current times of crisis and uncertainty, these insights are especially relevant. The research revealed 6 components of peak performance:

  • Motivation – the start of the journey, driven by passion, purpose and autonomy.
  • Goals – they provide a clear sense of direction.
  • Grit – the will that keeps people going even when motivation is no longer there.
  • Learning – ways to skill up and stay ahead of the curve, achieving mastery in any given field.
  • Creativity – drives problem solving and innovation.
  • Flow – the final piece that generates extraordinary results.

Will you take action?

Combining the above provides a high-performance toolkit for those who want to achieve more. Kotler’s book goes into these elements in depth and provides a practical how-to for achieving the greatest results.

Each of us has a right to thrive, not simply survive – and these insights can help you do just that.

For more great content on business, entrepreneurship and more, follow The Art of Making Things Happen Podcast!

 

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