Flow is hard work

Ron Immink
9 min readApr 3, 2021

Flow is the new holy grail for productivity. If you knew you could be 500% more productive? If you could be 600% more creative? If you could cut learning times in half? That is the result of flow, and Steven Kotler is a flow master.

Books

I am a huge fan of Steven Kotler. His books about flow (“The rise of superman” and “Stealing fire”) are superb. I love “Tomorrowland”, and I think the books he writes with Peter Diamandis are excellent too.

The Art of Impossible

Hence “The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer”. Impossible has a formula. A flow workbook. He broke down flow. No matter how mind-bendingly improbable a trick looked on the front end, there is always an understandable logic on the back end. The impossible always had a formula, and you can learn that formula. Very little is impossible with ten years’ practice. The book tries to decode the foundational neurobiology and unearth the mechanisms. The biological formula for the impossible is flow.

Flow

Flow’s impact on both our physical and our mental abilities is considerable. On the physical side, strength, endurance, and muscle reaction times all significantly increase while our sense of pain, exertion, and exhaustion all significantly decrease. Yet, the bigger impacts are cognitive. Motivation and productivity, creativity and innovation, learning and memory, empathy and environmental awareness, and cooperation and collaboration all skyrocket — in some studies as high as 500% above baseline. It’s tautological. Flow is to extreme innovation what oxygen is to breathing — simply the biology of how it gets done. Flow may be the biggest neurochemical cocktail of all. The state appears to blend all six of the brain’s major pleasure chemicals and may be one of the few times you get all six at once.

Rausch

Nietzsche’s first step toward superman: find your passion and purpose, what he called “an organizing idea.” Nietzsche was also very clear about the next step: learn to suffer. Peak performance demands grit, and suffering, the philosopher maintained, was the fastest way to acquire that skill. This takes us to Nietzsche’s step three: learning and creativity. Nietzsche’s word was rausch, a word originally coined by Johann Goethe that translates to “the…

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Ron Immink

Father of two, strategy and innovation specialist, entreprenerd, author, speaker, business book geek, perception pionieer. See www.ronimmink.com