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The Rise of Superman

Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance

By Steven Kotler
15-minute read
Audio available
The Rise of Superman: Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler

The Rise of Superman examines the top performers in extreme sports in order to gain insight into how they use flow, i.e., the transcendental experience of being in “the zone,” to accomplish their amazing feats and connects the dots between the experience of flow and the neurology behind it.

  • Anyone interested in achieving optimal performance
  • Anyone involved in extreme sports
  • Anyone interested in neuroscience and the mind

Steven Kotler is an award-winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project, an organization dedicated to uncovering the “blueprint” for flow.

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The Rise of Superman

Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance

By Steven Kotler
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Rise of Superman: Decoding The Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler
Synopsis

The Rise of Superman examines the top performers in extreme sports in order to gain insight into how they use flow, i.e., the transcendental experience of being in “the zone,” to accomplish their amazing feats and connects the dots between the experience of flow and the neurology behind it.

Key idea 1 of 9

Flow is a state of mind that helps us perform at our peak and often feels profoundly spiritual.

Have you ever been so “in the zone” that the entire world around you seemed to fade away? Did you notice that, during that time, you were performing at your very best? If so, you’re not alone. This experience, called flow, is fundamental part of the human experience. But what is it exactly?

Flow is a mental state that allows us to perform at our absolute best.

One way it does so is by acutely increasing in our ability to find creative solutions to problems.

For example, when the surfer Laird Hamilton rode the “Millenium Wave” off the coast of Tahiti, he likely would have died had he not followed to his creative insight that he gained from flow.

As the enormous wave began to break near the reef-ridden coast, he put his hands on the opposite side of the board into the water in order to prevent getting sucked up into the hydraulic. This is spectacular because it had never been done before, and is the only thing that saved him from death.

In addition, people often find flow to be a powerfully spiritual experience. After being in the flow state, many people report having heard the Voice, i.e., their subconscious creative intuition.

For example, when famous climber Dean Potter recounts climbing the gigantic Fitz Roy mountain, he attributes his success to the Voice.

Upon reaching a wall of ice three times the size of New York’s Chrysler building, he made approximately 670 correct moves up the wall with no equipment. Not being able to judge a path from the bottom of the wall, just one wrong move would have meant death, but the Voice did not deceive him.

In addition, people who are in a flow state often experience egoloss, i.e., the sense that they don’t exist as individuals. They become their sport. For example, surfers often report the feeling of being “one with the waves” after experiencing flow.

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