Steven Kotler is a performance expert and the co-author of “Stealing Fire.” In this video, Kotler explains how we all have flow state triggers and there are ways to hack into those states to experience creative breakthroughs. Following is a transcript of the video.
If you want to understand how flow leads to breakthroughs, the first thing that’s helpful to understand is one of the things we’ve learned is that flow states have triggers.
These are preconditions that lead to more flow. In our research, we found that action adventure sports: surfing, skiing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, are packed with these so-called flow triggers.
About four books ago I was writing a book called “The Small Furry Prayer” and I was absolutely stuck. I had writer’s block for the first time in my life and months had gone by, was fast approaching my deadline, and a friend of mine, I had never been downhill mountain biking, and a friend of mine kind of dragged me up to the mountain and run one was “Oh my God, I can’t believe a bike can actually ride down this stuff.” Run two was “Oh my God I’m gonna die.” And run three was “Holy crap I’m going to spend a lot of money buying one of these bikes.”
The bike, it kicked me right into a deep flow state. I came home, I sat down, and I started writing, and I basically wrote for two weeks straight and what was a totally unfinished book became two weeks later I book that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
What we’ve learned of this is Teresa Amabile’s work at Harvard is that heightened creativity that shows up in flow it can outlast a flow state sometimes by a day, sometimes by two. The other thing that we know about flow is creativity is another flow trigger, the pattern recognition, the linking of ideas together underneath flow. So once I started writing, once the flow state kind of kicked that off, the pattern recognition, the linking of ideas together kept it going over that period.