PT426 – Making the Impossible Possible: Flow Hacking and Peak Performance Aging

July 25, 2023
Featuring: Steven Kotler

In this episode, Joe interviews one of the world’s leading experts on human performance: New York Times bestselling author and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective, Steven Kotler.

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In this episode, Joe interviews one of the world’s leading experts on human performance: New York Times bestselling author and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective, Steven Kotler.

Kotler’s work explores the neurobiology of peak human performance, flow states, and aging, and the concept of getting our biology to work for us rather than against us in our later years, by using the parts of our brains that expand in our 50s, combined with neuroplasticity, learning by play, and the biggest factor: working toward a very difficult – but not impossible – task. His 30-year exploration of the neurobiology behind people accomplishing ‘impossible’ feats led him to test his theories by teaching himself to park ski at 53 with resounding success, then using his protocol with people up to 70 years old the next season. The story is told in his newest book about challenging tired concepts of aging, Gnar Country

He discusses the power of flow states and how much flow actually amplifies productivity, motivation, wisdom, empathy, and more; why dynamic motion is a key activity for greater longevity and why skiing and similar action sports are some of the best examples; why dynamic activity in novel environments is even better; why changing one’s mindset may be the biggest factor toward change; why corporations are looking at flow training and where these concepts could go in the future; and of course, how this all relates to psychedelics. 

Notable Quotes

“If you study flow science, it turns out that flow is really great at helping us go from zero up to Superman. It’s also really great at helping us go from seriously subpar, ‘I’m completely broken and sick’ back to normal. And it turns out this combination is phenomenal in the second half of our lives. And flow sits at the heart of peak performance aging.”

“The only way I can go [from] A to B with this is to take everything I know about flow science and peak performance and see if I can use it to accomplish this so-called impossible task. So that’s what the book is. And yes, I was obviously very successful. I went 0 to 60, as I said, in a single season. It was the fastest I’ve ever actually learned anything.”

“The place you’ve got to begin is mindset. The mind-body connection gets tighter and tighter and tighter over time, and it plays a significant role in aging and peak performance aging. Mindset is the greatest example. …A positive mindset towards aging  – ‘I am thrilled with the second half of my life; my best days are ahead of me’ – translates to an additional eight years of healthy longevity. It’s wild. …You could be morbidly obese and have a shitty mindset towards aging. Change your mindset, you’ll live longer. Don’t lose weight. Change your mindset. It’s more important. In fact, changing your mindset is more important than quitting smoking for healthy longevity.”


YouTube: Steven Kotler

When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Realities, by Stanislav Grof

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas S. Kuhn

The Gnar Country experiment videos

YouTube: Danny Way vs The Great Wall 10 Years Later

Steven Kotler

In this Episode

Steven Kotler

Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning journalist, and the Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective. He is one of the world’s leading experts on human performance. Steven is the author of eleven bestsellers (out of fourteen books), including The Art of Impossible, The Future is Faster Than You Think, Stealing Fire, The Rise of Superman, Bold, and Abundance. His work has been nominated for three Pulitzer Prizes, translated into over 50 languages, and has appeared in over 100 publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, TIME, and the Harvard Business Review. Alongside his wife, author Joy Nicholson, he is also the co-founder of The Buddy Sue Hospice Home for Old Dogs, a canine elder care facility, and Rancho de Chihuahua, a dog rescue and sanctuary.

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