The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler Book Summary and Review
The Rise of Superman Summary
1 Sentence Summary: This book is an in depth scientific way of discussing how to achieve the phenomenon called flow, its dangers, why it happens and what can we do to also achieve it which is the source of human’s ultimate performance.
Check My Other Book Reviews Here: Book Reviews
The Rise of Superman: DECODING THE SCIENCE OF ULTIMATE HUMAN PERFORMANCE Book Review
The concept of flow is first described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, where it discussed how this skill gives us an unknown boost in performance. Currently, flow is greatly seen in how athletes, especially the athletes in great danger in sport uses it to break records, change the impossible and more. For most of us, who is not into dangerous sport, this flow state can also be achieved through the detailed explanation on why flow happens and how to do it in this book, the Rise of Superman.
Why is Flow Important
In my Book review for Deep Work by Cal Newport, I explained how this skill has been very rare in our days. We are constantly being distracted with a lot of things and most likely, it is in our pockets or beside us right now. But this book teaches more to it. While removing distraction drives us to the flow state or in a laser focus state with my latest review for Make Time, there is a lot more to it.
I, myself have been looking for a book that will discuss this state in great detail since I have been using it so much currently as I am getting what others call the writer’s block which is a phenomenon of not knowing what to do on my articles and videos. Thus, the flow state is one of my answer to it. It is a blessing for me to find this book by Steven Kotler since I have been looking for a book that describes this in great detail, the scientific way.
If you are looking for a way to unlock your best self, whether you want to exceed your current athletic performance or like me where I am looking for ways for my brain to get to the next level by thinking deeper, this is a book for us. Flow is for the ones who seek the greater version of themselves. For the ones who want to change what is impossible. To know what it takes to take a team to the next level.
While most books I’ve read told that the way for Flow to appear is to eliminate distractions, eliminate people distracting you on work (Which is actually right). There is a concept in this book that got my whole attention. Something called group flow.
If you’ve experienced the flow state, you know how powerful it is in getting result. Imagine what happens on a Team on the state of flow. We might not know but it is possible to have flow in a group.
Group flow is a phenomenon where your team worked with each other in a state of flow in order to achieve an objective. Yes, it is possible. Here’s how this book told how it can be done.
- Agree with each other – If you are the leader of the group, always agree with your team mates. This will get them deeper into what others call the zone. Refrain from telling then that what they do is wrong. Instead, inspire them to think deeper and deeper. This agreement will not only boost their confidence, but the chemistry of the group itself.
- Remove Distractions – Remove distractions that are unrelated to the task at hand. Your whole team will thank you for it. Remind them what the goal of this activity is. With a whole team working without any distractions, it will create a different environment that will feel very suitable for productivity.
This might seem simple, but try these 2 tips. You will be surprised how much fun it is to work in a state of flow rather than a busy distracted schedule. Group flow is one of the concepts that inspired me to be a better leader and I also tried it at work and we did a week worth of work in just a day.
How Flow Happens
There are two concepts discussed in this book on how flow happens. The two are Transient Hypofrontality and the 5 hormone mix.
Ever wonder why we think so fast on a flow state? Right now, I am typing this article fast because I am typing this in a flow state. The flow state achieves this by a concept taught in this book called transient hypofrontality.
Transient Hypofrontality is basically a temporary(transient) shutting down(hypo) of your neocortex (frontal). Which is shutting for a short while our frontal lobe. If you are wondering why does this need to happen, here is the explanation.
Our Neocortex is a very important part of our brain, actually, this is the part that made us human. It is the source of our complicated thinking that made us one of the most successful creature on earth. However, it came with a drawback.
The neocortex tends to overthink. At first, it seems very great. And it is very great. Thinking more made us successful since we can gather more details than other species. However, it slows down our processing time.
If you imagine yourself walking then suddenly a wild bear shows, would you ask yourself if you are in trouble? Of course not. You would automatically assess that you are in trouble. That is hypofrontality in action. You don’t need to think that you are in a dangerous situation, you should know that instantly. If you don’t shut off your brain at that point, remember that even split second is important in those kind of situation. That’s why we have this phenomenon to save ourselves.
Now, let’s go to flow. Achieving transient hypofrontality drives us more into autopilot because we shut our doubting brains for awhile. We sacrifice our ability to doubt for speed. That’s why if you are in a flow state, you tend to do things a lot faster than usual. What’s surprising is that it actually feels good to be in this state. That is because of the mix of 5 hormones in our body whenever we are in this state.
The 5 hormone Mix.
Our body is composed of chemicals. Lots of it. In the state of flow, we have 5.
- Dopamine – This is the hormone that is mostly responsible for our motivation. In fact, this hormone is responsible for our focus. Our ability to drive out what is important and what is not right now is cause by our dopamine system. To achieve flow, one of the main things is to filter out what is important right now in our work.
- Noradrenaline – Also known as Norepinephrine. This gives us the spike in blood sugar levels, raising heart beat which is the reason why we don’t feel tired on the flow state. This gives us a temporary boost in power and is also the reason why we tend to feel that we are tired AFTER the flow state. In short, this gives us energy to do the work.
- Anandemide – This is in charge in creating new neural or brain network which makes us learn and to create faster.
- Endorphins – There are athletes on a state of flow where they finished a great feat while being on pain. Going to the deepest stage of flow removes our sensitivity to pain. Reducing or removing pain gives us more chance to reach the flow state. Endorphins are also considered to be 100x stronger than morphine.
- Serotonin – The main reason why we feel so good in flow state. This is released when we feel a sense of accomplishment which is one of the frequent products on work in a flow state.
Easy Guide to Achieve Flow
So flow is natural to people on sports, especially the risky ones. But how us, people who are not in that side, reach the flow state. Here is a simple guide for your guys that worked for me.
- Remove or Eliminate Distractions – The Easiest way is to remove distractions. This can be made possible by turning your phone into airplane mode, use distraction limiting apps and programs, removing notifications and much more.
- Schedule – We are creatures of habit, so I made it a point where a certain time each day is a perfect time to do deep work or flow. For example, I easily reach flow state after doing my routine of the 20/20/20 formula which will be written in my book review for the 5am club.
- Make the Work harder but not too hard – The book said that to reach flow state, make your work at least 4% harder than usual. For example, in this video, I am going to do all of the work in here in 1 day. Which will challenge me to the fullest but not impossible. In short, it should not be boring (too easy) or impossible (too hard)
Also remember that your best is not always the same. For example, once I have achieved this, the next should be a little bit harder again than usual. Which will be exciting as we can reach a bigger achievement each time. As I said in my book review for the 4 agreements, Always do your best and you will have a happier and fulfilling life.