The Art of Impossible Book Summary - The Art of Impossible Book explained in key points
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The Art of Impossible summary

Steven Kotler

A Peak Performance Primer

4.7 (533 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

"The Art of Impossible" by Steven Kotler is a guide to unlocking the full potential of the human brain and achieving peak performance. Through neuroscience, psychology, and his own experiences, Kotler offers concrete techniques and practices to help readers push past their limitations and achieve their goals.

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    The Art of Impossible
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    Intrinsic motivators drive us toward the impossible.

    There are no two ways about it: your journey to impossible is going to be long and arduous. As with any long journey, you’ll need fuel to keep you going. That includes food and sleep, but you also need psychological fuel –⁠ in other words, drive.

    Drive, or motivation, nudges us toward action. But what creates drive in the first place? From an evolutionary perspective, it’s all about surviving in a world where resources are scarce. Drive is evolution’s way of getting us to either fight each other to obtain the resources we need or to use creativity to make more resources.

    But drive doesn’t consist of just one thing. There are various drivers, like fear, curiosity, and passion. All of these provide psychological fuel –⁠ and you can harness them to achieve the impossible.

    The key message here is: Intrinsic motivators drive us toward the impossible.

    All psychological drivers are divided into one of two categories: extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic drivers are things like money, fame, food, and sex. They’re external to ourselves, and we chase them to win the evolutionary survival game. Intrinsic drivers, on the other hand, are within us. They’re psychological and emotional concepts like curiosity, passion, meaning, and purpose.

    Psychological research tells us that extrinsic drivers only motivate us to a certain extent. They get weaker once we have enough money to pay for food, clothing, and shelter. After we’ve met these basic needs, it’s the intrinsic motivators that take over. It’s those intrinsic drivers we’ll be focusing on in these blinks.

    The five most powerful intrinsic motivators are curiosity, passion, purpose, autonomy, and mastery. You can stack them together so they feed off one another –⁠ and so you can achieve the impossible.

    Let’s start with curiosity, the first element in the intrinsic motivator stack. You can start building it by making a list. Write down –⁠ by hand –⁠ 25 things you’re curious about. What might you read a book about or attend a lecture on? Be as specific as possible. For instance, don’t just write down football or food. Instead, write down: the specific mechanics and maneuvers necessary to play the left tackle position or the potential for grasshoppers to become a primary human food source.

    Now that you have a list of things you’re curious about, it’s time to start hunting for overlap between the items on it. This will help you identify your passions, your next intrinsic motivator.

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    What is The Art of Impossible about?

    The Art of Impossible (2021) is a science-driven guide to reaching your maximum potential. By developing four key skills –⁠ motivation, learning, creativity, and flow –⁠ you’ll gain the power to smash whatever goals you set. With enough time, you may even achieve the impossible.

    The Art of Impossible Review

    The Art of Impossible (2021) by Steven Kotler is a captivating exploration of the science behind peak performance and how to unlock our full potential. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with actionable strategies and practical advice, it provides a roadmap for achieving extraordinary feats and overcoming obstacles.
    • By weaving in fascinating stories and cutting-edge research, the book offers valuable insights into the power of motivation, focus, and flow states.
    • With its emphasis on pushing the limits of what's possible, the book is far from boring, inspiring readers to dream big and strive for greatness.

    Who should read The Art of Impossible?

    • Aspiring movers and shakers
    • Go-getters driven to achieve their maximum potential
    • Anyone who wants to boost their performance and be at their peak

    About the Author

    Steven Kotler is a journalist, entrepreneur, and author of both fiction and nonfiction books. He’s the cofounder and executive director of the Flow Research Collective, an organization that studies the science behind optimal human performance and trains its members in the techniques it uncovers. Kotler’s work has appeared in over 70 publications, and his book Abundance was a best seller.

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    The Art of Impossible FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Art of Impossible?

    The main message of The Art of Impossible is to unlock your potential and achieve the extraordinary.

    How long does it take to read The Art of Impossible?

    The reading time for The Art of Impossible varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Art of Impossible a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Art of Impossible is worth reading as it provides practical insights and strategies for unleashing your full potential.

    Who is the author of The Art of Impossible?

    The author of The Art of Impossible is Steven Kotler.

    What to read after The Art of Impossible?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Art of Impossible, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
    • Hyper-Learning by Edward D. Hess
    • Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal
    • The Outward Mindset by The Arbinger Institute
    • The Creator Mindset by Nir Bashan
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Mastery by Robert Greene
    • Unwinding Anxiety by Judson Brewer
    • Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg
    • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel