Stealing Fire: how to harness flow states for performance
The consensus has been that extreme performance requires the vaunted 10,000 hours of deliberate practice which require tremendous grit and determination. Authors Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal take us on a globe spanning adventure meeting with tech founders, Seal Team Six, Red Bull athletes and many more in search of a short cut for peak performance.
The various groups they speak with use different approaches and techniques, but all come to the realization that such a shortcut exists: altered states of consciousness. These states are within our reach and the book covers many paths for entering them: transcendental meditation, flow dojo, psychedelics, Tantric sex, extreme sports, and others. They are all different modalities for achieving the same state.
This book is a must read for anyone interested in neuroscience, self-improvement, or altered states of consciousness. My one nitpick would be that this book is written from a very masculine perspective in Tantric terms: it’s all about achieving a state of ecstasy for the purpose of performance. As I detail in Why? flow states and altered states of consciousness are worth pursuing for their own sake.