'The Art Of Impossible' with Steven KotlerApr 01, 2022
hi i'm leon goran, president of peo Leadership, a peer leadership consulting firm, we are an amazing community of ceos, presidents and senior executives, ask yourself if you are learning as fast as the world is changing, it's time for the ontario business leaders unite for advice and support it's time for you to harness the business wisdom of our peer groups and unlock new ways to grow i want you to emerge from this coveted crisis a better leader and have your organization ready for what's next then take the first step at peo-leadership.com we are 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 and the author of nine of 13 best sellers.
Total books including The Art of the Impossible The Future Is Faster Than You Think Stealing Fire The Rise of Superman Bold and bountiful His work has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes translated into 40 languages and appears in more than 100 publications. including the New York Times Magazine, Wired Atlantic Monthly Time, and Harvard Business Review. founder of rancho chihuahua, a hospice and sanctuary for special needs dogs, so as we kick off this session, that's how the hour will unfold. post your questions in the chat, what I'll do is try to identify them, pick them up and if possible get him to go silent and ask even the question directly, try to think of questions, absolute general questions for Stephen, but you.
We've got an expert in the room so if you're really having trouble with something even right now it's a good time to push that over to Stephen and see what he can do so Steven it's great to have you with us today thanks for joining . we thank you i know it's early where are you in california this morning i'm in north nevada south lake tahoe on the nevada side oh it's beautiful alright i'm going to jump straight into this with you and we're going to set the stage and i know you got it, obviously you do.
The biological capacity is within us to achieve the
impossible. Now we can define the
impossible. big eye little eye but you fundamentally believe and have researched that we all have it within us and I just want to make sure that this is how we start today so everyone in this room keeps in mind that what they can do is within their own capabilities that's right i say i like it a little bit more dramatic than i could have presented it but it's fundamentally correct yeah um um what a 30 year study kind of work in neurobiology of peak human performance what's going on in the brain and the brain body when we're performing at our best and a lot of different things happen but what you really mean and when we say everyone is programmed for the extraordinary everyone is programmed to face impossible challenges um one of the things we're talking about is that all humans, and indeed most mammals, are programmed to produce a state of consciousness known as flux. technically defined as an optimal state of consciousness we feel our best and perform our best we are all familiar with flow refers to any of those moments of wrapped attention and total absorption you become so focused on the task at hand everything else just seems to disappear awareness of action will begin to merge with your sense of self self awareness that will decrease time will pass strangely it will speed up and five hours will pass in five minutes test maybe slow down and you freeze from the effect, maybe someone has been in a car accident and all aspects of performance both mental and physical are through the roof so when we say everyone is capable of extraordinary flow that is an extraordinary boost to our abilities motivation determination learning rates creative problem solving productivity empathy awareness environmental nce strength fast twitch muscle response i can keep up with all these things massively increase flow in some cases 500 over baseline and let me give you an example just to make it even a little clearer mckinsey the business consultant gave around the world talking to top CEO leaders about how much more productive they felt in the flow and it's a self-reported grain of salt but they spent a decade doing it and the average was 500 more productive 500 more productive means you can go to work monday spend money in a state of flow you take tuesday to friday off you're still going to do as much as a Like everyone else two days a week and you're in flow you're a thousand percent more productive than the competition so this it's a massive acceleration above the baseline and it's available to each and every one of us. peak performance whatever you want to call it peak performance is nothing more or less than making our biology work for us instead of against us and that's a limited skill set flow is a big part of it there are other things that come into play but it's a biology it's limited so if we can optimize it if we can make it work together working the way the system was designed to work the way it evolved to work we'll get further faster with a lot less fuss that's the big problem that makes a lot of sense and i agree thanks for starting the flow because as i was reading your book and you and i were talking about this you broke it down into motivation creativity learning learning and creativity the flow flows through everything The thing is every one of those different chapters today, you know, I'm thinking about the environment that we all live in today, right, and we are maybe a little bit different than Canada, but we're still in the middle, I think North America.
We have already passed through the cove. I hope we're in the marathon. The finish line is approaching. We hope it's at least within vision. I know a lot of people are reflecting today as if a year has passed. of this it's been crazy at first the motivation what i'm trying to understand and maybe you can help the audience here as they reflect i think it's almost a good time to start thinking about finding that new passion finding that new purpose potentially revitalizing yourself to themselves and in that opening section book and you talk about motivation you talk about finding passion maybe you walk us through some of the ideas about people going through this a little bit right now where they would start off perfect so let me put uh when we say motivation that is uh where if you are interested in peak performance like you mentioned yes there are four main skill sets there are motivation skills learning skills creativity skills and flow skills if you want a simple way to think about it motivation will get you get into the game, learning allows you to continue playing, creativity is how you lead and flow, it is how you accelerate results beyond expectations, that's the simple way to think about it, but when you say motivation, learning or creativity. or even flow scientifically these are general terms right motivation doesn't just mean motivation means extrinsic motivation things we want in the real world we will work hard for money sex fame intrinsic motivation curiosity passion purpose autonomy mastery right things that really drive us inside we also mean determination and goals at the heart of the question is where do you start at a basic level that you always want to start at is just to put it in context is with extrinsic motivation what the science is really clear on that starting with abraham maslow and going through danny kahneman today if you want to increase motivation the first place you need to start is with the safety motivation you have. make enough money to pay the rent pay the bills and not worry that's probably not a problem for anyone listening today but it's probably a problem for some of your employees so if you're trying to motivate employees properly and they're literally wondering you know? can i pay my rent? can i pay my bills? where will my next paycheck come from? literally can't you? it gets in the way of all peak performance once the problem is solved, intrinsic motivation comes next, internal motivators exist, there are tons of internal drivers, but there are the big five, ok, curiosity, passion. purpose autonomy and mastery and they are designed to work together they are designed to come online in a specific order and the way you should think about this and this is the answer to your question leon if you are looking for more passion and purpose in your life curiosity it's the fundamental ingredient of passion when we say curious when we're curious about something the brain produces a little bit of norepinephrine and a little bit of dopamine these are performance enhancing neural chemicals they do a lot of things in the brain and body but mainly they drive focus so when you're curious about something you pay attention to it, no work required, it happens automatically if you can find the intersection of multiple curiosities where three or four of your curiosities intersect, that's the seed of passion. passion is baffled in the world today we hear all about it oh i want to find my passion it is very important and first of all what is the problem of passion? focused free that's the big deal produces a ton of norepinephrine and dopamine and how to think about romantic love when you fell in love you know your first girlfriend or boyfriend how much attention you got pats you couldn't stop focusing on them it happened automatically didn't have to do a job hard so if you can find the intersection with a place where multiple curiosities intersect um and start playing there which means find the intersection just learn more and more about that intersection 20 minutes a day just play there play there play there you start getting some easy wins at that intersection you start to develop that yourself something outside of you right I like to say make a list of 25 things that interest you and then find places that you know four or five tend to intersect, do you?
TRUE? I'll give you an example, let's say and one thing when you're doing this job you want to be as specific as possible the brain works very well with specific things it doesn't work well with generalities so I'm not interested in football and food, I'm interested in mechanics of what it takes to play left tackle and I'm interested in bugs as a new source of protein ok those are your two curiosities and by curious I mean you have a weekend off and you want to spend it reading some books watching some movies talking to an expert like we're not, this isn't complicated um where do football and food intersect? well i dunno left tackle is a job that requires a lot of energy bugs are a good food source to play left tackle thats the intersection spend 20 minutes researching that today tomorrow the next day the next day see if it starts to succeed a curiosity there is not enough energy there for passion you find multiple intersections there is energy there and you couple it to a problem that is g bigger than yourself and what happens when you do that again purpose is one of these terms that we baffle in the modern world we think oh perfect it's so altruistic it's so great to the world you're such a good person you have a purpose you want to help the world that may be true but from what peak performance biological perspective purpose is completely selfish you take norepinephrine and dopamine the feel good with performance-enhancing reward chemicals that show up with passion and then you get more reward neurochemistry nsa feel good you get endorphins oxytocin serotonin all the chemicals that come along once other people are involved in a situation when you try to solve a problem in the world you are helping other people and you get pro-social reward chemicals as a reward, do you and? you get you get more drugs to feel good on the inside and higher productivity on the outside focus free everywhere you want to go what would you say to people in terms of finding th in passion how you talk about 20 minutes a day it's a process that will take me a month or two it's a process that will take me a couple of years will it change like what happens when my passions change over time and i can i have more than one first two things right one the whole breakdown really slow is in the art of the impossible the new book um but i just put something in the chat we took the cover of the book the recipe for passion which is how you turn character into passion passion and purpose and turned it into a workbook free or sort of a broken down video of how to do it so I put it in the chat which is available to anyone you can go there and go crazy. and how to do it this is what you want to do this slow at peak performance there are a handful of places where you have to go slow to go fast passion cultivate passion and convertpassion in a purpose is really important and the reason is just this you don't want to spend two years in your passion to discover oh it's just a phase just like i had a friend who got really passionate about archeology like out of nowhere all of a sudden they're going to change careers I'm an archaeologist they go crazy it all worked out and they set up for a two year dig in Egypt and they've got like six weeks into the dig and they say I can't take this and I'm like um now I'm hand of slave labor over the next 18 months and yeah you really want to do this slowly and not be impatient with yourself biology is actually designed to run a little slower here um for a lot of these reasons so you can't be impatient with yourself in any of these jobs being impatient with yourself really is very costly to do peak performance work Self forgiveness and patience are really key.
You will be able to do a lot more work with a lot less pain if you have a little self-forgiveness and a little patience with the process. I love the other thing that caught my eye. me thanks jeff sorry i'm smart but i'm still a d or we misspelled it stephen no i hope i didn't just put put a thought there where there there wasn't one that was great so the other thing i picked up here that really thinks big like there is no you know yourself you kept talking about it several times in that book, it's not just that we need to expand our thinking, we need to think big of what we're really thinking most of the time, especially so let me know how where I always explain this to people because it's really what you'll get when you do it so I've spent my entire career with people who have made impossible capital right that's never been done and that's what I spent studying my career when you get under the hood, right? a simple example from my own personal experience one of my closest friends and my writing partner at some point we have written three books together peter diamandis was the original founder of the x prize and the x prize unlocked the space frontier peter wanted to do private space travel available to anyone who wanted to go into space he knew nasa wouldn't handle it he was too short he didn't follow instructions well like they were just not astronaut material he knew it well but he wanted to unlock the space frontier so he created the prize x y was a private competition for the first outside team that can build a private spaceship go to space twice in two weeks and that's a reusable spaceship was what no one could build and unlock on the space frontier and when he proposed , I wrote the first major international article on Peter Right and ever talked to everyone in the aerospace community. ial and everyone basically said peter is crazy this is never going to happen this is impossible so i talked to nasa they sort of reiterated each point in much more colorful language and said look we got to the moon we took 10 000 engineers and it took 10 billion dollars and that's what anyone is going to take and there's no way for you to know that you put 10 million dollars into a piece of equipment it's never going to happen this is crazy you're crazy and eight years later bertane wins the x prize with a 30 million dollar spaceship and a team of 30 engineers and unlocks the space frontier and private space is now a 3 billion dollar a year industry and breaks growing gangs right?
That's an impossible thing he did and I got to see it all up close and personal. How does it look? to see the impossible being possible up close and personally check it out peter wakes up he is having breakfast he talks on the phone for a while then he types on his computer and goes to the bathroom then he comes back he types on his computer and he gets a different phone call and then a different phone call then you have lunch after lunch maybe you take a nap maybe you go to the gym and have more phone calls a couple more conversations and then there's food sounds familiar we all have the same thing 24 hours a day basically we all do the same thing in those 24 hours often the only difference between i want to unlock this base frontier or i want to become the best dry cleaner in shaker heights ohio the energy requirement is the same if you are interested in being the best you are going to give everything you have in every moment that's what we do when we're interested in being the best then the energy and what you're doing with it is more or less the same is the size of the original vision matters so much i talk about this a lot in my book bold which was a book about solving impossible business challenges and it came from spending a lot of time with larry page elon musk jeff bezos richard branson people who have made business things possible in almost record time and we talk a lot about google moonshots what is a moonshot about what is the advantage with moonshots they will say make sure you are going to miss a lot it's going to happen alright these are moonshots but it's often easier to go for something that's a thousand times better than something that's ten percent better because if you're ten percent better you're something in a IQ contest with everyone else in the world who is trying to be ten percent better, but if you are a thousand better, you have to throw away everything that exists, all the rules, all the technology. all the ideas you have to start over and that's a liberating structure that often makes it easier to go big instead of small and as you pointed out when we started this, for many different biological reasons, the brain human is actually programmed to go big we are programmed for self-actualization we want to become the best version of ourselves this is how we are biologically designed or as abraham maslow said whatever a human being can be should be yes that's great , thanks for that, you know, since you think big, you know one thing that stands out to me, maybe this will lead to the next, we're all going to run into obstacles, so I'm going to assume everyone in the room, everyone they know how to set goals maybe they don't know about big goals but they narrow them down to smaller goals but as we work towards that that's impossible whatever we define as pa r each of us is different, we are going to hit walls all the time you talk about the element of determination, the element of ferocity that brings fluidity, can you share some thoughts on the challenges we face or are going to face as we move towards the impossible and maybe get over them a bit trying to get the flow going to help us work in the short term.
I'm leaving things here. I just thought there was someone really small living under your desk, yeah well my dog is big but I was the one who dropped that. you're going to be in for a challenge don't i mean don't kid yourself if you know it's capitalized impossible to do what's never been done a small line possible that's things we think is impossible for us or even if you just want to be more productive and creative at work next week good news is biology is the same. The set of tools is the same. The bad news is that it is not as easy as it is not. the pain of stalking the impossible is the pain of not trying to stalk the impossible i think trying to live with ourselves and living underachievement is much harder to study than possible i will also tell you this is just random but it tends to be true, not quite, I'll give you caveats, but this is the only thing you need to know and then we'll get into determination, so we have what are known as emotional set points, these are created around the time we're 10 years old. 11 or 12 and we have a low point and a high point the low point is about the worst we're going to feel on the planet the high point is about the best we're going to feel most of life happens in the middle Now you can move these points to the right.
Regular access to the flow will increase the upper end of your emotional set points. Life may get much better. The death of a child or chronic unemployment will reduce the lower set point. place in the interim now i want you to think about something you all have been teenagers what it means to be a teenager it means your brain is not fully developed it means you don't have emotional regulation abilities and it means your hormones are riot in other words you've probably already felt the worst you're going to feel on this planet if you survive being a teenager and you've reached adulthood you're actually already strong enough to take anything that comes your way with a couple of exceptions you meter I have to deal with that agony a couple of days in a row, it can stretch out for a longer period of time, but honestly, we don't think about it because no one talks about it like this, but a lot of people are like that. oh god what if what if what's that what if I can't achieve what if well I don't know but you've already experienced the worst you can probably feel in reality so you're strong enough to take it the investigation A sample about grit is that it's easier to train grit after you've got all of your intrinsic motivators pointing in the same direction because once that happens you'll automatically start a lot of intrinsic motivators are flow triggers, they're preconditions that lead to more flow amplified flow greatly amplifies the arena once an experience starts producing flow we love it we do everything we can to get more and the arena takes care of itself um to put it in more specific terms they did really great study of like a gi ant high school 542 students and they looked at the students what they called their activity primary secondary school was their acti main life so this is the second primary you play tube in the band you play soccer right you're in the debate club whatever and they asked what conditions if you're doing this first year what are the conditions that guarantee you had the guts to continue to do when you graduated as a senior and what they found was there was only one condition, the experiences that produced the most flow as a freshman, those were the guarantees that they would continue to do so as a senior, flow and determination are often synonymous, so you want to start training determination after everything pointed in the same direction and start producing flow. so one that makes determination training easier less likely to burn out less likely to be as miserable and much more rewarding along the way the other thing is we are designed d biologically wired for the arena i mean humans are incredibly brave, for example we are the only species that evolved to run over its prey humans are designed to be brave enough to chase an antelope across a desert for three days and catch it for dinner we're so gritty on the inside from an evolutionary perspective it's crazy we just pointed this out in quotes in the art of the impossible but like a hundred years ago i said look we all have second wind experience we all have You had that experience, you're exhausted, you're tired, whether it's at work or doing something sporty or whatever, and all of a sudden you get a second wind, which may What people don't realize is that there is a third breath, a fourth breath, a fifth breath. six one because you're not pushing your skills reliably so the good news is value is remarkably easy to train it's very easy to train bad the bad news is it doesn't feel very good a secret it's counter-intuitive because I guess most of the people you meet on the zoom call want more grit at work, they might want a little more grit at the gym or they might want a little more grit in their relationships or whatever. whatever but you really want to be a little bit harder at work what's interesting is if you want a cognitive grip what the research shows is you want to start on the physical side so you literally want to start in the gym or with any kind of physical activity, this is not always the case as the body has primal views over the mind as if there weren't a bunch of physical machos in the world of embodied cognition to deal with. you will run into if you walk into this this world who like to tell you oh the body is the master thing and dont worry about the brain start with the body its not true at all except for determination so if you literally want to be braver at work, hitting the gym is what you want to start doing. and you are doing you know 10 10 e exercises three sets of 10 each exercise the next time you go to the gym it's three sets of two sets of ten and one set of eleven in one of those exercises you start very small and just push a little and a little by little by little and what you're trying to do is literally teach your brain that you're strong enough to accept it. the brain wants to convince you that you are going to die if you get through this and nothing could be further from the truth, soI think that those who were on the call and there are many leaders on the call had to have done it very well.
They didn't get to where they were gutsless because everyone has been through some challenges, especially in the business world. What do you and I mean by this outside of the context of the book, but as leaders, we know one of the challenges? What we have is engaging and inspiring our people in the right way, so driving them passionate about making them have a purpose in the organization to drive them to help them develop something of value to really move forward you have also worked with many leaders is there anything that sticks out in your mind in terms of how effective they have been within your organization. them as passionate and committed yeah um so two things are pretty clear the first is um psychological safety which has been everywhere these days but um just put anxiety blocks peak performance , the more anxiety in our system, um, the worse we'll do. and that's why you're looking at gratitude practices or mindfulness practices or the best way to combat anxiety by how gratitude practices mindfulness or breath work focuses meditation or exercise.
So one of the reasons you're seeing so many things implemented, um place to start, calm people down, group flow is the shared collective version of a flow state, right? It's what you want on your team. It's a team performing at its best and group flow like flow has triggers there are preconditions that will lead to more group flow there are ten that are known uh this is not my job it was the work of a guy named keith sawyer he's a psychologist at the university of north carolina who originally identified these things, so if you want more exciting performance, all that great stuff from your team, one of the things you need to do is pay attention to group flow triggers.
You can find a really comprehensive breakdown at the end of my recent book The Art. from impossible keith sawyer wrote a fantastic book called group genius about all his work on how he came up with these two are a really decent place to start you will notice when you look at the group flow triggers there is a lot of overlap between some of the factors triggers and psychological safety and a lot of the triggers have less to do with how you act in the room with the team and more to do with how you build the team how you design high flow teams and the third thing I think I just want to say that this it's so obvious it was funny.
I was, um, daniel goldman, who basically invented emotional intelligence. looking at emotional intelligence in leaders what makes a good leader is the same question you asked he really looked at it so when i was talking to him he was picking his brain about this in the same thing i wrote in the flurries collective . 70 people worked for me, right? um I know an eight figure company with 70 people um but I also had to learn a lot of this stuff as I went along and one of the things we were talking about I was laughing because I came up short on this like you're also going to be a visionary leader and you will have passionate people under you you have to be you have to be communicating that vision to your company right in uh it's impossible i'm talking about the three levels of goals setting the top is a right Mass Transformation Purpose Mass Transformation Purpose is a mission statement for your life under which you'll find high and hard goals, um and then clear goals and they're all kind of bits and pieces of something bigger, but um Mass transformation purposes came out of the work. that peter diamandis me and a guy named salinas masculine who was the original CEO of singularity university on where they study exponential technology and how it applies to innovation to solve global challenges um we were doing a s Tudy Saline was the pioneer of the hundred fastest growing companies in the world and one of the things that we discovered is that they all had massive transformational purposes and they were communicated extremely well to all employees and I'm not talking about you as garbage mission statement that you that you wrote I'm talking like you know this is google organizing the world's information is something everyone can focus on everyone knows where the company is going and what they're doing etc um those are really really helpful if you're looking for passion if you're looking great if you're looking you need shared goals it's a right flow trigger it's a group flow trigger and a massive transformative purpose compa rtido is a very powerful place to start with an organization i love it but yes that bigger vision than the organization or that purpose the mtp that you described sharing goals and then the ability to win together and share those victories i mean i i think about sports , you could be in an individual sport, but if it's a team sport, the big gymnastics, the swimming, we talked about the flow that happens when your teammates start winning. it's all about the flow, the flow is contagious, emotions are contagious, there is a facial signature to the flow when we move in the flow at a micro expression tag level, the frown muscles are paralyzed and the muscles of the smile are hyperactive facial expressions because we are mirror neuron systems. um automatic how i imitate your facial expressions when i talk to you this is how we bond well by the way this is also why people start looking like dogs since you have a dog in your office i thought i would mention this right your dogs are actually better face readers than humans, they are always looking at your face, reading your emotions and the way they can figure out what you feel is by mimicking your face to feel your feelings because that's how mirror neurons work so why your dog why our dogs end up looking like owners and owners like your dogs because you guys are mimicking facial expressions over the years it was just people walking down my street saying they look like your dog I take that as a compliment.
I think my dogs are very handsome. That's great. Agree. I'm going to answer some questions. Some questions are coming. uh, ask
stevens a question directly before we move on to part q of this webcast, first a quick note on po leadership from one of our members. What I love about peo's leadership right now is how well our members support each other and play off each other. The Covet 19 Challenge Paul Zadorsky Senior Vice President Crayola International Business is about being able to quickly adapt to change, but how do you learn as fast as the world changes? learn the collective wisdom of some of canada's top executives having that peer group and broader leadership community to lean on makes all the difference now is the time to step up and lead go to peo-leadership.com I bet hey
stevenum I love it one of the things that surprised me in the book was when you talked about getting your biggest and most difficult task done first, kind of implying that productivity was a depleting resource, like willpower, I was hoping that would tell you like dopamine. you would get from task completion it would act as neurobiological leverage which would then help you get a bigger task into a bigger task where you go in crescendo throughout the day because of neurochemistry can you talk a little bit about why what um daryl is that? one of the smartest questions I've been asked in a long time, um, definitely, it totally makes sense why would you think that and I wouldn't, so actually no, I haven't had an answer. i've never heard the question before and it seems totally obvious why isn't someone here is what i think is the answer and the person i need to call is roy baumeister who did all the work on willpower, um he's probably the person who would have the best answer to this question and he may already be in his data somewhere although I haven't seen him what I think this is and now let's say this is an 80 85 answer and there's 15 percent in there I'm probably way off the mark, but the cognitive load that comes from, um, your most difficult task, right, is usually so significant that once you get it out of the way, you end up releasing a lot more energy. for focus and attention which is probably related to the fact that willpower wanes over time, um, put those two things together and I'd guess those forces are stronger than the dopamine high.
Now here are the caveats that throw a full wrench under all of this if your toughest task leads you into a really deep macro f. been low um great fantastic you know you'll be pushed throughout the day but lets say you can one of the things that will get the flow going is a little bit of dopamine a little bit of dopamine dopamine is a focus chemical you start by building up dopamine in the system now if your tasks are two hours long and whatever the dopamine isn't doping lasts about 20 minutes so it won't take long enough to do that but if some of the tasks are really short there might be something to you say, there could be what I think is a general rule of thumb, my recipe is going to win over time, but I guarantee you, if we look at this, there will be very specific types. of situations that can vary from individual to individual, so there may not be a prescription that can say, oh, this will work for everyone.
I don't really know what those are um a social like if you have a really tough meeting if you're a proper salesperson and there's a really tough customer you probably don't want me to be your first customer you're right you probably want a little bit of rhythm and some more of that dopamine , the prosocial chemicals so that's a situation I can think of ok I can see your way of working better than you know I mean the way we talk in the book that's what 30 have said years of kind of research and data us, but it's science, you know, we change ideas all the time, so you asked a great question.
I don't have a great answer for you. I fumbled my way. i think i'm going to call it now um it's a good question i hope my answer is satisfactory um kinda great thanks for the question thanks um tom k i see you on my screen do you want to be quiet and ask your question for sure um and by the way i haven't read the book but i plan to get it sorted so it will be corrected i just had a question in terms of the possibility so google might have big goals but they don't go after each one properly so i find these days in the market and I am tech people who tend to spin very fast because they get all these new technologies, so the real question is how do you distinguish between you know the practical component of going after that great idea and you know why you can't.
I just go after everything that looks like the next big thing, do you have any idea how people filter that stuff? So if you're asking an enterprise technology question, um, that answer probably in my book, the future is faster than you think. um, in terms of how do you track exponential growth technology, where is it going, what are the markets going to do, all of that, so there's that side of the question, let me stick to the human performance side of the question for you a little bit. um because that's a different thing I guess I mean there are two things that are important here the first is that we all know if we're good at business that there are certain situations where the best thing to do is walk away and start something good. there are times you have to shut it down oh this project but google as you pointed out google kills way more things than they let live just when they are in their skunk it works on google x the ratio is crazy its like a hundred to one in terms of what they kill versus what they let live, um, and there are a lot of different organizational gateways to do that, you know one of the things that, um, we do as organizations in the flow research collective and this is that I have a different answer for but I'm going to rule out this is um when it comes to these things is I um we put periodize making sure that we're asking um the questions that don't allow us to like you know everybody is trying to systematize things and streamline and stuff, but every two or three months we have big meetings where we're like, we build systems, we simplify, we test these processes, now what blind spots do we create along the way and what aren't we s seeing and we're going to have reevaluated these things in that way so that's just one of the things we do that's not my answer my answer is on a more personal level is that how i think about it for my own life?
Is this what the research shows? is that you want three levels of goal setting hugely transformative mission statement goals high and hard goals which are the bits that feed into your mission statement and then clear goals what are you doing today to fuel your higher goals to fuel your mission goals so um let's say one of your goals is, for you, to make movies that inspire your audiences all overthe world, that's your mission level goal, so you know a tough goal would be to go to film school, get a, you know, make your first movie. e about cooking do blah blah ok you get the idea and clear goals what am I going to do today to get it right this is how the system works but those goals are especially at the top are their filters i have three level goals of mission for my life and then there are three things that I have to do almost every day to support those goals correctly and I know those are my first filters.
If a project is presented to me and fits with those objectives. Cool. I say yes. If not, it's gone. It's a waste of time because I'm driving in a certain direction. This level of goal setting becomes your first filter for your life, mainly because I know that if it's not aligned, my main mission is right and my main passion, my main purpose and all that stuff, there's no way it can be. the best at it so it should automatically turn off because i know i dont know how you play but i try to play to be the best in the world at the right things if i cant be the best in the world at something or i try to be the best at the world i'm not going to get into something i'm going to say n or um so that's more of a personal um thing to do that but i think how do you know when to quit a project is one of the most complicated, great, interesting, difficult questions of business and of life that I do not do.
I don't think we're 100 percent there yet, I really don't like it, it's like they're asking great questions and I wish I was smarter than I am. smart after you guys are asking tough questions thanks um i think i agree with you i think you spoke from a personal perspective i think of corporate strategy maps right where you have the huge eggs at the top you set the goals huh thats a one page and we filter ideas through that all the time if it doesn't fit within the boxes in terms of direction where it's going, you can check, you can ask the questions around it, but that's one of the ways we filter things to making sure everyone is aligned driving towards a similar goal pe Personally you could do the same thing change corporate strategy to life gps which is a model uh move on um stephen another question someone asked me to I'm going to ask you this they're on the treadmill so I guess here we go I think one of the most overlooked energy issues is excessive amounts of Vat of time that we spend using our precious mental energy in activities that are not a priority.
We always think in terms of energy use in physical activities and not mental ones. The most productive and satisfied people I know are masters at choosing places to use. his mental energy and control of his mental emotional state and his thoughts, can you comment on that? Oh yeah, I mean yeah lazy, you've nailed something really fundamental, which is that people think, um, physical energy is you know more work than mental energy and it's not your brain. uses 25 of your resting energy is two percent of your body mass 25 of your resting energy if you are focused and paying attention, especially if you are paying attention to something Knowing that you are difficult is difficult to pay attention to that requires something or there is more stress you are using a lot of energy the level of stupid that i am after spending a whole day writing or in meetings versus the level of stupid that i am after a whole day skiing or you know riding a bike i am a lot stupider after the cognitive stuff there's just no way there's no way around it burns a lot more energy most of the time unless you know if your buddy on the treadmill is trying to put in you know four minute five minute miles he's ok you may be winning you may be burning more energy than what i'm talking to you about right now but it's iffy that's great ok next question ta, by the way, wait, let me copy.
There are two things I want to mention about this. This is also why across the board we see that you need seven eight hours a night of sleep per night for peak performance. No questions are asked. Sorry, it seems I have no worries. i'm going to start c ughing again but we'll just play through um and you also need to have an active recovery protocol in place so don't finish work and tv and beer no active recovery that's a passive requirement protocol we believe it really helps us recover and not at all alcohol if you have more than two cocktails it's going to mess up your sleep patterns it's going to take away your sleep you need the tv because of how it affects our brain waves it makes us feel like we're relaxing but the brain actually isn't really relaxing the brain reacts to the tv like there's a seizure almost every 30 seconds you don't feel it at all but on a break we can see it in brain waves that's not recovery to catch up at the end of a long day of I work hard when you're cognitively exhausted, what the research shows is that you want something that automatically lowers cortisol levels and doesn't repinephrine in the body, so it eliminates stress hormones and alters the brain waves that lower the brain. n waves from where the bait is high is where we are now is a fast moving wave is an alert alert paying attention to the much slower dreaming alpha mode that is what the brain needs to reset so how do you do that? restorative epsom salt baths yoga so this is not yoga for exercise this is yoga as stretching and calming with the breath uh focused meditation practice of any kind um exercise can sometimes help sometimes It's gardening or like a long walk, but it's a restorative practice at the end of the day that changes the brain. waves and it helps flush stress hormones out of your system one is a part if you don't have them um you're probably much more likely to burn out in fact uh there's a lot of work we've done on collective flow research that says if you have regular access to the flow through what's known as his main stream activity and we're back at that for a second um and active recovery protocol in place and he's sleeping seven to eight hours a night i It's almost impossible to burn out you can do it if you're in a if you have a boss who's super passive aggressive who keeps moving the goal posts um or a spouse or any situation where you can't please someone and that situation outside of that you're just going to burn out it doesn't matter whatever it's all, it's automatic, there's nothing you can do to win situations, just get out of that situation, but the main flow activity is whatever you did. all life that falls from the flow for me is skiing for other people is walking your dog in nature or playing chess or dancing salsa or dancing hip-hop or you already know how to read or it doesn't matter take your pick these are all the things that by the way we stop being adults what comes first we become adults we are responsible we have families we have jobs we put away childish things i am putting away the surfboard or the skateboard or whatever and um actually its a disaster to perform for a lot of different reasons, one is that as we get further into the flow, all the stress hormones are forcefully flushed out of our system, it happens automatically replaced by performance-enhancing feel-good neural chemicals, which also boost the immune system, so in a while the primary stream activities really matter because you're doing some good stuff for that too the more stream you get the more flow you get, so if you get ski flow on Monday, you're training the brain to focus on a particular way you're going. for more flow at work tuesday and height and increased productivity and creative so productivity 500 over baseline creative is 470 above baseline which seems to last longer than flow state by a day maybe two good reasons to double your main stream activity but if you're fighting burnout main stream activity if you can one afternoon a week is best but even 10 minutes you know here and there is great but like three or four hours a week is best but that pl us seven eight hours of sleep a night plus as an active recovery protocol so 10 minutes of focused meditation at the end of the day or a 20 minute infrared sauna or a 15 minute yoga practice seems to block exhaustion stephen is this related to um so that was one of the questions i'm going to ask you because in sports, when you train for that big accomplishment, and You train really hard, you get it, you get that flow, you get it in the moment, use the flow throughout the process, but when you do it. break that record whatever you achieve find people get down like you go on hiatus and its not allowed just for a day or two like me personally i will find this so if i work hard two days later I actually dropped a big big event for months and we see in mental illness with a lot of athletes I'm going to put that in the context of today we've been fighting greed for nine or ten months right as soon as it's done and we've overcome This We know that mental health is going to be an issue.
Is this a recovery process we can use? about flow is neurobiologically evolutionary this is the brain reacting to crisis situations that's why it evolved so flow is a personalized thing this job is client designed to covet so i've been doing a lot of serious hard work with individuals and organizations around to this very question and yes you are absolutely right so the thing is greed itself is creating preconditions that lead to stress and overwork and burnout and what is going to happen is we all know that the disease will disappear, it will return. back to business as usual and suddenly we're going to the world is going to change and there's going to be a great time to make a lot of money a great time to be in business but if you're out of time coveting ends with you I want to I mean, if you've never burned out before, mental performance suffers to a significant level, so we've told people during double greed that you want to double your primary flow activity, your active recovery protocol, and what I said earlier that positive psychology is that there are three great ways to manage anxiety on any given day either a daily gratitude practice a daily mindfulness practice or regular exercise 20 40 minutes a day usually normal situations when we tell people to choose one a day proper gratitude practice takes five minutes 10 minutes plus 11 minutes of focused breathing meditation or 20 minutes of exercise until calm above, q Which is how you get the kind of mental health benefits uh during times of crisis two of these things a day or three of these things a day depending on how hot you are the system is running so you want to do that on the front end, you want to get seven eight hours of sleep a night, you want regular access to the stream, you want an active recovery protocol in place and if you're doing all four, exhaustion is almost impossible and then when it's time to going back to work, he'll be really ready for it, so with exercise and I think he's referring to his book You also talked about light exercise and if we're talking to the average person here, um, mentally, we're in the business world , we are not professional athletes, is it light exercise or is it hard exercise?
It depends if you're trying to test if you're trying to train guts, that's a harder exercise right? and gently until it calms down two things are going to happen it's going to get pretty high then the voice in your head is going to get quieter and your lungs are going to open up you'll feel your lungs open up what those what those both reflect is a release of nitric oxide is a gas A signaling molecule is in basically every cell in the body, and as you get into what's known as exercise-induced transient hyperfrontality, it means that the prefrontal cortex shuts down the part of your brain that worries and thinks all the time and shuts down. starts to fade depends on your fitness level if you are not at all fit you can usually get there with 20 25 minutes of walking to the right slightly uphill slightly slightly uphill usually more than enough you know it depends from his fitness level um, for me, you know I have to ski really hard for like 90 minutes to get there, that's what it takes, but you know I run with professional athletes when I'm not. you know how to do this no we're not done breaking bones there's no more of that i leave childish stuff at least you know ok that's not true my shoulder is separated right now but whatever you know it's been great , I know the questions are piling up, I'm respecting everyone's time, I promise.
That we were done at noon here, Steve,could you leave us? You have an idea of the audience. You have a lot of questions. If you're all three, uh, you can keep us. session where we should think, even a little bit, start moving towards doing this because you know I read your book, I read the activities at the end, we're all capable of doing this, but most of us will start and fall off the wagon inside a month or two it's funny how um and it's not like we need technology this is kind of hard to do you've really simplified it but it's hard to get motivated to do this yo it's not fun I think it's hard to get motivated to do these things until you start to seeing the results and the results are so spectacular truth is i mean it's amazing what happens right when you're looking at you i'll give an example we in the flow research collective are training our course fundamental training is zero to dangerous we see in the back of eight weeks long it's tough as hell don't kid yourself right but we see a 70 to 80 percent increase in flow in the back era, this is incredibly easy to train because it's our biology and it's designed to work this way, um, so you can get spectacular results and like those results right now, get to the point where you're at.
It's not bad and usually, by the way, Leon, when people ask me what are the three things I can do on Monday morning, my answer is always the same, like it's a ridiculous question, like I don't do what I whatever you do for a living. tell me how to be good at it with what are the three things that allow me to be good at your job right that's a dumb question that's a dumb question anywhere it says that i'll still help you a little it's not to ask i'm thinking about behaviors so what we've found is this if you're really interested in moving the needle um one of the best places to start is with three simple activities i'm not going to go into too much detail about how to do them because you're in the art of the impossible and we're running out of time but first duplicate your main stream activity we talked about this a lot today um it's really counterintuitive but the results are really meaningful so start there the second thing is flow follows focus , flow has triggers what all triggers do is direct attention to the present moment, so the easiest place to start is with the focus itself which What the research shows is that you want to maximize flow try to start your period the day with a period of uninterrupted concentration dedicated to your most difficult task now start your work day if you are an extreme joker like me you get up very early that means you do at four in the morning because that's when your circadian rhythms say you're most awake if you're a normal person and you're most awake at nine in the morning that's when you do it and if you're a night owl like my wife you want to start like four or five in the afternoon you just want to match your circadian rhythm with a period of uninterrupted concentration before you enter that period practice distraction control ahead of time don't try to resist temptation in the moment what are you up to joking? we are human beings we don't resist temptation we give in to temptation that's what it means to be human as far as i can tell for phones to turn off email to turn off facebook twitter instant messages all those alerts you have turn them off early so they don't even be tempted and what the hell the research shows is what you want to aim for now start with whatever you want to start off well if you have 20 minutes today that's what you start with you're 25 tomorrow that's what you start with but that's what you want to aim for because over time is a 90 minute block of c interrupted concentration because that is the time the brain is designed to focus naturally we have 90 minute rem cycles correct we all know this we go into rem sleep we dream for 90 minutes then come out the same we have cycles waking and are 90 to 120 minutes long so put this in context and make it familiar um montessori education waldorf montessori education especially when they searched for the highest flow activities on earth montessori education is always very near the top one of the reasons montessori children outperform waldorf children they outperform other children in almost every test they are given it can give is the amount of flow flow amplifies learning massively montessori works great that way why does montessori produce so much flow one reason is that it is based on uninterrupted 920 minute periods of concentration from which they train children four year old to focus for that long and kids learn it very easily because your brain is actually you know how add kids seem to you but once you start training it the human brain is designed to focus for 90 minutes at once, so it becomes remarkably easy over time, so handling distractions at the front end it was 90 minutes around our concentration doubles in its active main flow activity recovery protocol seven eight hours of sleep a night now you're cooking with fire it's not such a dumb question i love it well the reason it's dumb is because they are three things to do mon tuesday wednesday thursday friday saturday sunday repeat good performance works like compound interest that's right i love it stephen i want to thank you all for listening everyone who joined us today.
I would say pick up the book from him because I mean Stephen mentioned a few things, but we couldn't talk about learning to read, how important it is that we didn't talk about creativity, you know? Go from a winning idea to a multiple one and create sustainable creativity. Just some good advice. Stephen and you have done amazing research on this. I urge everyone to read that book again. Thank you for joining us, thank you. Stephen if you are interested in our live webcast on the way forward please visit us at po-leadership.com you will find a number of recorded webcasts and podcasts which have included professor roosevelt cantor, professor michael beer both from harvard joe jackman harry kramer dr greg wells dr jason salk mitchell goldhart the list goes on in the coming months we have some amazing thought leaders joining us including morgan housel kim scott janice stein erica dawon and to name a few it is an incredibly exciting lineup be sure to join us and um spread the word and if you are interested happy to introduce you to what an advisory board could look like please email me until we meet again I would like to wish you all a fantastic day and a wonderful month of March don't underestimate your potential and think big thank you very much at burlesque is a leading Canadian law firm with a local national and international practice l well established we provide strategic advice in all major areas of business law, regardless of size or industry our professionals are dedicated to providing exceptional client service let us focus on your legal issues so you can focus on your business contact tony joya or bill chalmers to discuss ways we can work together
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