Vikas Jain

World-Class Human Performance | Flow State by Steven Kotler

On Google Talks

Transcript

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00:02

MALE SPEAKER: I’m really happy to welcome

00:04

our two guests and my friends here today,

00:07

Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal.

00:10

As you know, wellness, optimum living

00:13

have been big topics at Google for a while.

00:16

And they are complex issues.

00:18

I know my colleagues wrestle with these issues a lot,

00:22

trying to figure out solutions.

00:24

And today, what they will be presenting

00:28

and what we’ll learn more about, flow,

00:30

I think is a big part of this complex puzzle.

00:34

And so I want to give you a little bit of background

00:36

with both of these folks before we get started.

00:39

So Steven is a “New York Times” best-selling author.

00:42

He’s an award-winning journalist and co-founder

00:45

of the Flow Genome Project.

00:47

And he has many books, including “Abundance.”

00:49

And his new book, “The Rise of Superman”

00:53

will be the focus on today.

00:54

His books have been translated in many different languages.

00:56

Articles have appeared in more than 70 publications,

00:59

including “New Times Magazine,” “Atlantic Monthly,” “Wired,”

01:02

and “Forbes.”

01:04

Jamie Wheal is the executive director

01:07

of the Flow Genome Project.

01:08

And he’s a leading expert in neurosemantics

01:11

of ultimate human performance.

01:13

And he works with Fortune 100 companies, leading business

01:16

schools, Young Presidents’ Organization,

01:18

an also Red Bull, with their world-class athletes.

01:22

So with that, I’m going to turn it over to Steven.

01:25

[APPLAUSE]

01:32

STEVEN KOTLER: Hello.

01:33

Thank you guys for coming out.

01:34

I very much appreciate you being here.

01:36

I want to kind of just orientate you

01:38

a little bit to what we’re going to do.

01:40

I’m going to kind of give you an introduction

01:42

to flow and start breaking down some of the neurobiology, how

01:45

it works under the hood and giving you

01:48

kind of the broad spectrum of importance.

01:50

And then Jamie’s is going to take over

01:52

and he’s going to talk about practical applications

01:54

about how you can get more flow into your lives.

01:58

As a way to kind of begin, I want

01:59

to tell you kind of where I began with this, which

02:02

was when I was 30 years old, I got Lyme disease.

02:05

And I spent the better portion of three years in bed.

02:08

If you don’t know what Lyme disease is like,

02:10

imagine the worst flea you’ve ever had,

02:12

crossed with paranoid schizophrenia.

02:15

So by the end of it, the doctors had pulled me off medicines.

02:18

My stomach lining was bleeding out.

02:19

There was nothing else anybody else anybody could do for me.

02:21

And I was functional, 5% to 10% of the time.

02:24

My mind was totally shut down.

02:26

My body was in so much pain, I could barely walk.

02:28

I was hallucinating.

02:29

My short-term memory was gone.

02:30

My long-term memory was gone.

02:32

It was all gone.

02:33

And at this point, I was going to kill myself out

02:35

of practicality.

02:37

The only thing I was going to be from here on forward

02:39

was a burden to my friends and my family.

02:41

And it was really a question of when and not if at that point.

02:44

And in the middle of all this kind of negative thinking,

02:46

a friend of mine showed up at my house

02:48

and demanded we go surfing.

02:50

And it was a ridiculous request.

02:51

First of all, it had been about five years

02:53

since I had surfed at that point.

02:54

And the last time I had surfed, I

02:56

had nearly drowned in a big way of accident in Indonesia

02:59

and wanted nothing to do with surfing.

03:01

And as I said, I could barely walk across the room.

03:03

And she was a pain in my ass.

03:05

She wouldn’t leave and wouldn’t leave.

03:06

And kept badgering me and kept badgering me.

03:08

And after finally about three hours of this,

03:09

I was like, what the hell, let’s go surfing.

03:11

What is the worst that can happen?

03:14

And they she kind of walked me to their car.

03:16

And they put me in their car and they drove me to Sunset Beach

03:18

in Los Angeles.

03:19

And if you know anything about surfing in Los Angeles,

03:21

you know that Sunset Beach is just

03:23

about the wimpiest beginner wave in the entire world.

03:26

And it was summer.

03:27

And the water was warm and the tide was low.

03:30

And the waves were crap, like maybe two feet high.

03:32

And no one was out.

03:33

And they walked me out to the break, literally by my elbows

03:36

and kind of helped me out there.

03:38

They gave me a board the size of Cadillac.

03:40

And the bigger the board, the easier it is to surf.

03:42

This was enormous.

03:44

And I was out there about 30 seconds when a wave came.

03:47

And I’m not quite sure what happened,

03:48

muscle memory took over, whatever.

03:50

The wave came.

03:51

I spun the board around.

03:52

I paddled a couple times and I popped up.

03:54

And I popped up into a completely different dimension.

03:57

My senses were incredibly incredibly, incredibly acute,

04:00

I was clear headed for the first time in years.

04:04

I felt like I had panoramic vision.

04:05

And time had dilated.

04:08

It had slowed down.

04:09

So that freeze-frame effect, if you’ve ever

04:10

been in a car crash, that was my experience.

04:13

And the most incredible thing was I felt great.

04:15

I mean I felt alive, that thrum of possibility.

04:18

And it was the first time in about three years

04:20

that I had felt it.

04:22

And that wave felt so good, I caught four more in a row.

04:27

And after that fifth wave, I was disassembled.

04:29

I was gone.

04:30

They had to carry me to the car.

04:32

They put me in the car.

04:32

They drove me home.

04:33

They had to put me into bed.

04:35

And people actually had to come and bring me food

04:37

because for 14 days, I couldn’t walk again.

04:39

So I couldn’t make it 50 feet away to my kitchen

04:41

to make a meal.

04:43

And on the 15th day, which was the day

04:45

that I could walk again, I got back in my car

04:47

and I went back to the ocean and I did it again.

04:49

And again, I had this kind of crazy, quasi-mystical

04:52

experience.

04:53

And again, it felt great.

04:54

And the cycle kept repeating itself.

04:56

And over about six months’ time, when

04:58

the only thing I was doing different was surfing,

05:01

I went from about 10% functionality to about 80%

05:04

functionality.

05:05

So my first question was what the hell is going on?

05:08

Because surfing is not a cure for chronic

05:10

autoimmune conditions, first of all.

05:12

Second of all, I’m a science writer by training.

05:15

I’m a rational materialist.

05:17

And I don’t have mystical experiences.

05:18

And I certainly don’t have them in the waves while surfing.

05:21

The whole thing seemed ludicrous.

05:23

Lyme is only fatal if it enters your brain.

05:25

And I was pretty certain that the reason

05:27

I was having these quasi-mystical experiences out

05:29

in the waves was because I was dying.

05:31

So where all this started for me was a giant quest

05:34

to figure out what the hell was going on with me.

05:37

What I discovered was this altered state of consciousness

05:41

I was experiencing had a name, flow states.

05:44

Now, you may know this by other names, being in the zone,

05:48

runner’s high.

05:49

If you happen to be a beatnik jazz musician,

05:51

then you’re in the pocket.

05:52

If you’re a stand-up comic, it’s called the forever box.

05:56

The lingo goes on, and on, and on.

06:00

The term researchers prefer is flow.

06:02

And they prefer this term for a reason.

06:04

It’s actually a technical term.

06:06

And we’ll come back to why in a second.

06:08

But in flow, what happens is attention

06:10

becomes so focused on the task at hand

06:13

that everything else disappears.

06:15

Your sense of action or awareness merge together.

06:18

So the doer and the beer become one.

06:21

A sense of self, our sense of self-consciousness

06:23

disappear completely.

06:25

Time dilates.

06:26

So that means it slows down like I mentioned.

06:28

You can that freeze-frame effect, like in a car crash.

06:30

Sometimes it speeds up.

06:31

And five hours will go by in like five minutes.

06:33

And throughout all aspects of performance,

06:36

mental and physical go through the roof.

06:40

I’m not going to dwell too much on it.

06:41

I’m just going to kind of explain it.

06:43

And we’re going to go on to a lot of things.

06:45

But I want to talk about why flow actually healed me

06:48

from Lyme disease, just so you guys understand

06:50

what was going on.

06:51

We’re going to talk later about the neurochemicals involved

06:53

in flow.

06:54

All of them significantly jack up the immune system.

06:58

More importantly, they reset the nervous system back

07:01

towards zero.

07:01

So they calm you down.

07:03

An autoimmune condition is essentially

07:05

a haywire nervous system.

07:06

So the fact that periodic flow states were calming my system

07:09

back down is allowing me to form new neural nets.

07:13

Neural nets that didn’t lead immediately back to illness.

07:16

And this is what kind of gave me a toehold and possibility

07:19

to get better.

07:21

What I also discovered when I was

07:23

researching flow and learning all this stuff

07:25

is that the exact same state that

07:28

helped me get from seriously subpar back to normal

07:32

was helping a lot of other people

07:33

go from normal up to superman.

07:36

Another thing that I learned very quickly on

07:39

is that I really was not the first person

07:41

to come to this conclusion.

07:43

Flow science dates back about 150 years, to the early 1870s.

07:50

By the turn of the century, Harvard psychologist

07:52

and philosopher William James was looking at the state.

07:55

And he was the first person to figure out

07:57

that the brain can radically alter consciousness

08:00

to improve performance.

08:02

More importantly was the work of one of James’ students,

08:05

Walter Bradford for Cannon, who was a great physiologist.

08:07

Bradford Cannon discovered the fight or flight response.

08:10

And in doing so, he kind of give us our first window

08:14

into where this accelerated performance

08:17

might be coming from.

08:18

This was a very, very big deal.

08:21

Before that moment in time, performance enhancement

08:25

was essentially a gift from the gods.

08:26

You want a better time in 100-yard dash, Hermes can help.

08:30

You want to write a better poem, talk to the muses.

08:33

But Walter Bradford Cannon turned a gift from the gods

08:36

into standard biology.

08:38

He give us our very first toehold into the mystery.

08:44

In 1940s, psychologist Abraham Maslow

08:48

picked up on this thread.

08:50

He discovered that flow was a commonality

08:52

among all successful people.

08:55

And then in the 1960s and ’70s, the real revolution began,

08:59

a guy named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

09:01

who is then the chairman of the University of Chicago

09:03

psychology department.

09:05

Csikszentmihalyi sort of– well, Maslow discovered the state

09:08

in successful people.

09:10

Csikszentmihalyi got curious about kind of everybody else

09:12

in the world.

09:13

So he made what is now considered

09:15

one of the largest global psychological studies ever.

09:17

He went around the world, asking people

09:20

about the times in their life when I felt their best

09:23

and they performed their best.

09:24

And it was a huge group.

09:25

He started out talking to experts.

09:27

He talked to expert rock climbers,

09:29

ballet dancers, artists, surgeons.

09:31

It didn’t matter.

09:32

They all said same thing.

09:33

They felt their best.

09:34

And they performed their best in the state he termed flow.

09:37

Then he blew it out to everybody else.

09:39

And by everybody else, I really mean everybody else.

09:41

He talked to Navajo sheepherders.

09:43

He talked to Italian grape farmers.

09:45

He talked to elderly Korean women.

09:47

He talked to Japanese teenage motorcycle gang members.

09:51

He talked to Detroit assembly line workers.

09:53

Everybody he talked to told him the same thing.

09:56

They felt their best, they performed their best

09:58

when they were in the state of flow.

10:00

Csikszentmihalyi also came up with the term “flow.”

10:03

One of the reasons was when he was talking to all these people

10:05

and they describing this state, they always said,

10:08

well, I’m using my skills to the utmost.

10:09

I’m pushing myself as far as I possibly can.

10:12

But it feels effortless.

10:14

When I’m in this state, every decision,

10:16

every action leads seamlessly, fluidly to the next.

10:19

In other words, flow felt flowy.

10:22

The other major finding that came out of this,

10:24

as I hinted at a second ago, flow is ubiquitous.

10:28

It shows up everywhere, in anyone, anywhere,

10:31

provided certain initial conditions are met.

10:36

What this means is that everybody from jazz musicians

10:38

in Algeria, to software designers in Mumbai,

10:41

to coders here in Silicon Valley are using flow

10:44

to massively accelerate performance.

10:47

And it is a considerable bit of acceleration.

10:51

Flow amplifies all of our physical skills.

10:53

So in this state, we are better.

10:55

We are faster.

10:56

We are stronger.

10:57

We are more dexterous.

10:57

And we are more agile.

10:59

So our brains.

11:01

Flow jacks up information processing.

11:04

So when we’re in the state, our senses

11:06

are actually taking in more information per second.

11:09

We’re processing it more deeply.

11:10

So that is using more parts of our brain at once.

11:13

And while there’s a lot of debate about this,

11:15

it does appear that we are processing it more quickly.

11:17

And it’s not just information processing

11:20

that is getting jacked up.

11:21

Pattern recognition, future prediction, basically all

11:24

the fundamental neuronal processes in the brain

11:27

are amplified by flow.

11:30

As a result of this, scientists now

11:32

believe flow sits at the heart of every athletic championship.

11:36

So almost every gold medal that has ever been won.

11:39

But it also accounts for significant, significant

11:41

progress in the arts and major scientific breakthroughs.

11:45

In business, McKinsey did a 10-year study.

11:48

They found that top executives report being five times more

11:52

productive in flow than out of flow.

11:55

So you got to stop and think about that.

11:57

Normally, I have to explain to most audiences

11:59

that five times is actually a 500% increase.

12:01

I’m guessing you guys got it.

12:03

But what that means is you can go to work on Monday,

12:06

spend Monday in flow, take Tuesday through Friday off,

12:09

and get as much done as your steady-state peers.

12:12

So it is a huge, huge, huge amplification.

12:15

And that 500% increase may sound ridiculous

12:20

until you consider action-and-adventure sport

12:22

athletes.

12:23

So one of things McKinsey discovered

12:25

is that average people, average workers, spend less than 5%

12:29

of their work life in flow.

12:31

One place where this is definitely not true

12:33

is in action-and adventure sports.

12:35

Action-and-adventure sport athletes,

12:37

for reasons that Jamie is going to get into later,

12:39

have essentially become the best flow hackers on Earth.

12:43

And this has happened over about the past 25 years.

12:45

And there are reasons for it.

12:46

And we’ll talk about them later.

12:48

But I want to tell you what this has produced.

12:49

It has produced near exponential growth

12:52

in what’s termed ultimate human performance, which

12:55

is performance when life or limb is on the line.

12:58

Nothing like this has ever happened before.

13:00

Sports progression, it’s slow.

13:02

It’s steady.

13:03

It’s governed by the laws of evolution.

13:04

At no point in history does it quintuple in a decade.

13:07

Yet this is exactly what’s been happening in surfing, skiing,

13:10

snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, et cetera, all

13:13

the action and adventure sports.

13:14

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

13:16

Surfing is a great one.

13:17

This is a thousand-year-old sport.

13:20

From 400 AD to 1996, the biggest wave anybody has ever surfed

13:25

is 25 feet.

13:26

Above that, it’s believed impossible.

13:28

Scientists don’t think it’s possible.

13:29

Surfers don’t think it’s possible.

13:31

Today, we’re pushing into 100-foot waves.

13:34

In snowboarding, in 1992, the biggest gap jump

13:39

that anybody had ever cleared is 40 feet.

13:41

Now, 40 feet is a big jump to clear on a snowboard.

13:44

Today, as you can tell from this image,

13:47

snowboarders are pushing into 230, 240 foot jumps.

13:51

So near exponential growth in ultimate human performance.

13:55

The better news, at the same time all this is going on,

13:58

they solved a couple of problems.

14:00

For a long time, one of the big problems in flow research

14:03

was the subject of state.

14:05

How the hell do know if your research subjects are in flow?

14:08

The good news about action adventure sport athletes,

14:10

sort of, is that the level of progression

14:13

has advanced so much in recent years

14:15

that if people are not in flow on their performing,

14:18

they’re ending up in the hospital or dead.

14:20

So this gives you a hard research set to work with.

14:22

It’s a hard data set.

14:23

If they lived through the experience,

14:25

we know they’re in flow.

14:26

Simultaneously, combined with this– flow science, as I said,

14:31

goes back to 150 years.

14:33

Most people are really aware of the first 130 years, which

14:36

is when we figured out the psychology of the state.

14:38

And we got really good at the psychology of the state.

14:41

What’s happened since 1990ish is that our neurobiology

14:45

has gotten very good.

14:46

Our brain imaging technology has gotten very good.

14:49

EEG has gotten a lot better.

14:50

And for the very first time in history,

14:52

we can look under the hood and we

14:54

can figure out what’s going on in flow.

14:57

One of the first things that we discovered is there’s– the old

15:01

idea about ultimate human performance was based

15:03

on what’s called the 10% brain myth.

15:05

It was actually a misinterpretation

15:06

of William James.

15:07

But it’s the idea– and I’m sure you’re all familiar with it–

15:09

that most of us only use 10% of our brain.

15:11

For ultimate performance, a/k/a flow,

15:13

it has to be all of our brain firing on all of our cylinders.

15:16

That was the idea.

15:17

It turns out that’s exactly backwards.

15:21

What’s happening in flow is the brain

15:24

isn’t becoming hyperactive.

15:25

It’s actually starting to deactivate.

15:27

So this is happening for a number of reasons.

15:30

The simple reason is it’s an inefficiency exchange.

15:34

The brain is a giant energy hog.

15:36

It’s 2% of our mass.

15:37

It uses 20% of our energy.

15:39

So one of the fundamental rules of the brain

15:41

is how do I can conserve energy?

15:43

So conscious processing is very slow

15:46

and it’s extremely energy expensive.

15:48

Subconscious processing, on the other hand, is very, very quick

15:51

and it’s very, very energy efficient.

15:53

So what’s happening in flow is we

15:54

are trading conscious processing for subconscious processing.

15:58

As this is happening, huge swatches of the brain

16:01

are being shut off.

16:02

The technical term for this is “transient,” meaning temporary,

16:06

“hypofrontality,” hypo, H-Y-P-O, it’s the opposite of hyper.

16:11

It means to deactivate, to slow down, to shut off.

16:13

Frontality refers to the prefrontal cortex,

16:16

the part of your brain that’s back here,

16:17

that houses all of your higher cognitive functions.

16:20

So why does time dilate in a flow state?

16:22

Why does it speed up or slow down?

16:25

Because time, as Baylor neuroscientist David Eagleman

16:28

figured out, is calculated all over the brain, especially all

16:31

over the prefrontal cortex.

16:32

As parts of it start to wink out,

16:34

we can no longer separate past, from present, from future.

16:38

So we’re plunged into what researchers

16:40

call the “deep now.”

16:42

To give you another example of what goes on in flow,

16:44

another portion of the brain that goes off– we

16:46

talked earlier about how self and self-consciousness

16:49

disappears.

16:49

Why does self-consciousness disappear in flow?

16:52

Because a portion of the brain known as the dorsal lateral

16:56

prefrontal cortex, which sort of is

16:58

responsible for self monitoring and impulse control,

17:01

shuts down.

17:02

So self-monitoring, that’s your inner critic, your inner Woody

17:05

Allen.

17:05

That’s that nagging, defeatist voice

17:08

that’s always on in your head.

17:10

In flow, it’s turned off.

17:12

When it turns off, we experience this as liberation.

17:15

We are literally free from ourselves.

17:18

Creativity goes up.

17:20

Risk taking goes up.

17:22

Performance goes up.

17:24

We are much more open to experience.

17:27

So what we’ve just been talking about

17:29

is neuroanatomy, where in the brain

17:31

something is taking place.

17:33

If you really want to kind of map an experience in the brain,

17:35

you have to talk about neuroanatomy,

17:37

where in the brain it’s taking place, neurochemistry,

17:40

and neuroelectricity, which are the two

17:41

ways the brain sends signals.

17:43

I’m going to talk a little about neurochemistry.

17:45

Then Jamie’s going to pick it up and talk a little bit

17:48

about neuroelectricity.

17:49

In flow, we get five of the most potent neurochemicals

17:55

the brain can possibly produce.

17:57

So all of these are performance enhancing neurochemicals.

18:01

Norepinephrine and dopamine enhance focus.

18:04

They tighten focus.

18:05

They drive us more into the now.

18:07

It also speeds up muscle reaction time.

18:09

They lower signal to noise ratios in the brain

18:12

also so we have more pattern recognition.

18:14

Anandamide is a pain reliever.

18:18

But it also speeds up or increases lateral thinking,

18:21

thinking outside the box.

18:23

So pattern recognition is defined

18:24

as the linking of similar ideas together.

18:27

Lateral thinking is the linking of disparate ideas together.

18:30

That goes up in flow.

18:32

Endorphins, very, very potent painkillers

18:35

and very, very powerful social bonding chemicals.

18:38

And serotonin keeps us calm throughout.

18:41

That’s the chemical at the heart of the Prozac revolution.

18:44

So the thing you need to know about all

18:46

of these neurochemicals, besides the fact

18:48

that they up performance, is how they impact motivation.

18:53

So for those of you who don’t know much about neurochemistry

18:58

and drugs, all of these chemicals

19:01

are incredibly potent reward chemicals.

19:04

Let’s talk about dopamine for a second.

19:06

Cocaine is widely considered the most addictive substance

19:09

on Earth.

19:09

When someone snorts cocaine, all that actually happens

19:12

is dopamine floods into their brain

19:14

and then the brains blocks its re-uptake.

19:16

So the substance is in your brain for longer.

19:19

Norepinephrine– let me go back– norepinephrine is

19:22

speed or Ritalin.

19:24

Anandamide is the same psychoactive

19:26

that’s inside of marijuana, THC.

19:29

Endorphins are opiates.

19:30

And just to give you an example, there

19:32

are about 20 different endorphins

19:33

in the brain and the body.

19:34

The most common one is 100 times more potent

19:38

than medical morphine.

19:40

And serotonin is essentially MDMA.

19:43

The point here is that when all five of these chemicals

19:46

flood into your brain, it produces

19:48

an extremely, extremely, extremely addictive experience.

19:51

Flow is arguably the most addictive experience on Earth

19:54

because it’s probably the only time, or the only time

19:56

that we know of, when all five of these chemicals

19:58

get flooded into your brain at once.

20:01

Researchers don’t like the word “addictive.”

20:03

It has very negative connotations.

20:05

So they prefer “autotelic,” which means an end in itself.

20:08

What this basically means is that once an experience starts

20:11

producing flow, we will go extraordinarily far

20:14

out of our way to get more of it.

20:18

Which is why researchers talk about flow

20:20

as the source code of intrinsic motivation.

20:22

So why does this apply in daily living?

20:26

One reason is, as a recent Gallup survey pointed out,

20:29

71% of American workers are disengaged

20:32

or actively disengaged on the job.

20:35

The other 29% have jobs that produce flow.

20:37

So we really know what the solution is to this problem.

20:40

The other thing I want to talk about,

20:42

flow doesn’t just amp up motivation.

20:44

It also massively jacks up creativity.

20:49

It’s hard to put numbers on this.

20:50

We did a kind of a loose study at the Flow Genome Project.

20:53

And I say loosen loose and preliminary.

20:55

And people reported a 7x improvement in creativity.

20:58

To give you another example of this,

21:01

an Australian study– it’s a neat study–

21:02

they took 40 people.

21:03

They give everybody a really tricky brain teaser to solve.

21:06

Nobody could solve it.

21:08

They induced flow artificially using transcranial stimulation.

21:11

They literally took an electric pulse

21:13

and knocked out the prefrontal cortex

21:15

and basically induced transient hypofrontality.

21:17

23 people solved the problem in record time.

21:21

So creativity goes massively through there.

21:23

Again, this comes down to neurochemistry.

21:26

So creativity as a skill is usually,

21:29

not always, but usually recombinatory.

21:31

It’s the product of a novel idea bumping into an old thought

21:35

to create something startling new.

21:38

So if you want to increase creativity,

21:40

you have to increase all of those things.

21:42

Well, norepinephrine and dopamine, they tighten focus.

21:46

The brain is taking in more information for a second.

21:48

So it’s heightening our access to novelty,

21:51

which is on the front end of the creativity equation.

21:54

Because they lower signal to noise ratios in the brain,

21:57

they are also upping pattern recognition,

21:59

so our ability to link ideas together.

22:01

And then anandamide is increasing lateral thinking

22:03

or our ability to link disparate ideas together.

22:05

So literally the state of flow surrounds creativity.

22:09

And what’s really interesting here is creativity,

22:12

as most of you I’m sure are aware,

22:14

is a quality that’s really, really desirable.

22:17

IBM did a global survey.

22:18

I think it was 1,500 CEOs.

22:20

Of the quality most necessary in a CEO

22:23

today, creativity was the number one answer.

22:25

Yet how to teach creativity?

22:27

How do we teach people to be more creative, a big problem.

22:30

Teresa Amabile at Harvard did a study

22:33

where she discovered that not only are people

22:35

more creative in the state of flow,

22:37

but that heightened creativity actually

22:39

outlasts the state by a couple of days.

22:41

Which suggests– and more work needs to be done–

22:43

but it suggests that the state of flow

22:45

actually trains the brain to be more creative.

22:48

The other things these neurochemicals do

22:51

is they exist to kind of tag experiences.

22:55

So a quick shorthand for learning and memory, the more

22:58

neurochemicals that show up during experience, the greater

23:01

chance that experience moves from short-term holding

23:03

into long-term storage.

23:05

Neurochemicals are essentially a big tag on experience.

23:07

It says, important, save for later.

23:10

So flow is a gigantic dump of potent neurochemicals.

23:14

So this has a radical impact on learning.

23:17

In studies run by the US military

23:19

by DARPA in advanced brain monitoring, which

23:21

is a team in Carlsbad, California,

23:24

they again induced flow artificially,

23:25

two different ways.

23:26

They used transcranial direct stimulation

23:28

and they also used neural feedback.

23:29

And they found that snipers in flow

23:32

learned an average of 230% faster than normal.

23:36

They then repeated this same study

23:38

with novices, nonmilitary personnel.

23:41

And they found that the time it took

23:43

to get from novice to expert by artificially inducing flow

23:46

could be cut in half.

23:48

So what this tells us is that Malcolm Gladwell’s

23:50

famous 10,000 hours to mastery, flow cuts them in half.

23:55

So this is where I’m going to stop with learning,

23:59

and creativity, and motivation because I think

24:04

those are three big categories that apply in everybody’s life.

24:08

As a way of kind of transitioning into Jamie, what

24:11

I want to say is what has also come out of all this research

24:15

is not just what’s going on in flow.

24:17

And because we’ve had these athletes as a data set,

24:19

we can figure out what they are doing

24:21

to get into flow so successfully and we can work backwards.

24:24

And we can apply this knowledge across all domains

24:27

in societies.

24:28

So what we’ve discovered is that flow states have triggers.

24:30

These are preconditions that lead to more flow.

24:33

I’m going to turn it over and let Jamie talk about this

24:36

and why they’re so important.

24:37

JAMIE WHEAL: Thank you.

24:39

[APPLAUSE]

24:40

24:45

So about 2,000 years ago, there was this epic, “Old Testament”

24:49

rap battle between Rabbi Hillel and the pharisees.

24:52

And the pharisees challenged him.

24:53

They said, OK, Rabbi Hillel, you think you’re a hot shot.

24:56

Can you stand on one leg and recite all of scripture?

25:00

And he said yes, I can.

25:01

And he did it.

25:02

And he stood on one leg.

25:03

And he said do unto others as you

25:07

would have them do unto you.

25:10

The rest of scripture is mere commentary.

25:15

And here at Google, it’s your guys’ world

25:18

to be organizing the world’s information.

25:21

And while that is ambitious and noble,

25:24

you guys know, too, that it’s the insights

25:26

we gain, it’s not simply the data we gather,

25:28

that makes a difference.

25:30

And where we are today is truly drowning

25:33

in information and just as we always

25:35

have been, starving for motivation.

25:38

We know better.

25:39

We know we’re supposed to eat real foods, mostly plants,

25:43

not too much.

25:44

We know we’re supposed to do work that matters.

25:46

We know we’re supposed to practice gratitude.

25:48

We know that meditation is supposed to be amazing

25:50

if we ever get around to it and can sit still long enough.

25:53

We know all this stuff.

25:55

But if you just– a quick glance at the stats behind me.

25:59

Look at the toll.

26:01

We are less healthy.

26:03

We are more obese.

26:05

There’s higher workplace injuries.

26:06

There’s dollar values attached to this stuff.

26:09

Lifetime fitness, arguably the kind

26:11

of access to embodiment and wellness

26:14

for like the suburban masses, 75% attrition rate.

26:21

And that’s an internal statistic.

26:23

75% of the people that say yes, I

26:26

want you to take my $150 a month, I want the outcome,

26:30

never show up again.

26:33

And most chillingly, a study at Harvard conducted–

26:38

that, hey, when you are faced with a chronic lifestyle

26:41

disease, diabetes, heart disease, smoking

26:45

chronic stress, and your doctor says, hey, look, here’s

26:48

the deal.

26:49

You really have to change your ways

26:51

and if you don’t, it might kill you.

26:54

This is what we’re left with.

26:56

Seven out of eight of us would rather die than change.

27:01

27:04

Mind boggling.

27:05

27:08

So back to these guys.

27:09

[INAUDIBLE] is not just kind of noodling around on the sides.

27:12

They actually have a full-bore research project.

27:14

It is global.

27:15

It is interdisciplinary.

27:16

It’s called the Quantified Warriors.

27:18

So forget you’re kind of Quantified Self meet-ups

27:20

here in the Valley.

27:21

These guys are building these supersoldiers of 2030.

27:25

And what they’re doing is sort of alternately

27:27

fascinating and horrifying, depending

27:28

on your point of view.

27:30

But there’s something really interesting

27:32

that’s been going on.

27:32

And Steven talked a little bit about there’s

27:34

a 150 years of research.

27:37

The last 10 to 20 years has been getting super-interesting.

27:40

And if I was in your seats, I’d be saying, OK,

27:42

this sounds OK, cool.

27:43

But how come I don’t know about it?

27:44

If it was really all that, we’d know about it right now.

27:48

And there’s actually a problem.

27:49

There’s a reason why we don’t have

27:52

this as shared working knowledge.

27:53

Which is really how do we take information and translate it

27:57

into motivation?

27:59

Because as Steven said, flow is autotelic.

28:01

Flow has this massive neurochemical dump.

28:03

It encodes and rewards us to do more of it.

28:07

And if we could unlock that, intrinsic human motivation,

28:12

what’s possible next?

28:14

Because these guys, the Special Operations forces,

28:17

Yale is working with Delta Force and the Rangers,

28:20

and Red Bull is working with the Coronado SEAL Team Six,

28:24

these guys are getting way into the fine details.

28:27

But they are explicitly disincented

28:30

to share this knowledge.

28:33

One of them wants to stay a step ahead of the bad guys.

28:36

And the other guys want to step up on the podium.

28:40

So what they’ve been learning has not been shared yet.

28:43

And certainly part of our mission

28:45

is to actually take this extreme, the folks who

28:48

risk their lives for a living, and bring it

28:51

more into the mainstream.

28:53

Bring it to impact entrepreneurs.

28:54

Bring it to communities of innovation

28:56

where we can harness the same rocket fuel.

28:59

29:02

So to go back and just kind of shake out

29:05

three of the more practical takeaways of what–

29:08

if you remember nothing else from today,

29:11

please think through these ones.

29:13

Number one is what we were just talking about.

29:16

Flow is the source code of intrinsic motivation reinforced

29:21

with the most potent neurochemical set

29:23

we have access to.

29:25

Next, it shortens learning.

29:27

Which means either I get to spend a lot more time

29:30

on the couch or I can actually go further

29:34

in my domains of inquiry.

29:35

I can learn more.

29:36

What happens to human progression

29:38

when we can double its efficacy?

29:41

And lastly, again Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

29:44

the godfather of flow, did a 10-year global study.

29:47

And one of the additional benefits

29:50

was that the people who have the most flow in their lives

29:53

are in fact the happiest.

29:55

So as far as the bottom line in optimal psychology,

29:57

that is the “so what” at the end of it.

30:00

30:04

So to go back to these action sports athletes as a case study

30:07

because they’ve been kind of a fringe population.

30:09

People don’t pay much attention to them.

30:11

The notion ski bum and surf bum aren’t exactly warm

30:16

embraces of people who have dedicated

30:18

their lives in these domains.

30:20

But they really have come up with three

30:22

very good and transferable ways for all of us

30:26

to get more flow in our life.

30:28

And the three re deep embodiment.

30:31

When they are doing things, they are

30:32

feeling the forces of gravity.

30:35

So their proprioceptive sense, like where

30:37

are my limbs in space, my vestibular sense,

30:40

where is my inner ear in relationship to my hips,

30:44

compression, weightlessness, rotation, all of these things

30:49

are giving very strong sensory motor inputs

30:53

into our body and brain.

30:54

And as Steven was mentioning, cells that fire together,

30:57

wire together and we create richer and more robust

31:02

neural networks.

31:04

So we’ve some fascinating studies.

31:05

They did a sort of human life-sized Frogger experiment

31:09

with college athletes versus just

31:11

frat boys and sorority girls.

31:13

And they said, OK, who’s going to do better

31:15

at this life-size Frogger game and who would you

31:18

put your money on?

31:19

Well, the athletes and the athletes won.

31:21

But not for the reasons we would think.

31:23

They didn’t win because they had faster reaction time.

31:26

They didn’t win because they could– explosive box jumps.

31:29

They won because they could process complex multivariable

31:33

equations faster and then act on that information.

31:36

So the notion of the dumb jock was also absolutely wrong.

31:40

And in comparison– so this goes back

31:43

to the sort of ancient Shaolin temple– mastery

31:45

and control of body yielding mastery and control of mind.

31:50

So you go from basically going on

31:52

a dial-up modem– I’m just a brain on a stick, disembodied,

31:57

disconnected, only perceiving and receiving information

31:59

through one data feed– into broadband or even satellite.

32:05

I am now picking up all channels available to me

32:08

as a sensing cognition machine.

32:11

And those neuron nets are now fired and wired together.

32:16

Next, rich environments.

32:18

Think about the difference in a surfer

32:20

or a skier, big mountain skier, any of these things,

32:23

between just playing ping-pong.

32:24

And every day that ping-pong table is exactly the same.

32:27

And my paddle is.

32:28

And the ball bounces the same way.

32:29

It all works.

32:30

And I can kind of check out.

32:32

But in a situation where the environment

32:33

is so rich it’s overwhelming and stimulating,

32:37

it actually sort of can knock out my waking sense of self

32:41

and forces me to pay explicit, acute attention

32:45

because if I don’t, I get knocked down.

32:48

And lastly, high consequences, which

32:50

I just kind of foreshadowed.

32:53

In fact, Oscar Wilde I think famously said,

32:55

there’s nothing like the prospect

32:57

of being hung in the morning to clear one’s mind.

32:59

33:02

So immediate high consequences have this wonderful effect,

33:06

which is very hard in this day and age.

33:08

We’re always elsewhere and elsewhen.

33:10

I’m thinking about tomorrow.

33:11

I’m on my phones.

33:12

I’m pitching this.

33:13

I’m posting that.

33:15

Like high consequences bring me back into the incontrovertible

33:19

now.

33:20

It is the only place that flow can happen.

33:22

And if I get out of it, if I drift, I get spanked.

33:26

And it hurts and I learn.

33:28

Now, think about how much of our learning and experiences

33:31

these days are disconnected from those kind of tight feedback

33:34

loops.

33:35

So let’s translate this to your guys’ world

33:37

a little bit because that’s the beauty.

33:39

And this would just be kind of a curiosity

33:41

if it didn’t matter to us as well.

33:43

So think about rich environments.

33:45

You guys are obviously in one.

33:47

The cross pollination– a lot of the sort

33:49

of cutting edge organizational design of workplaces,

33:53

whether it’s at Pixar with the atrium

33:55

and the serendipitous meetings.

33:56

Whether it’s your guys’ cafeterias and restaurants,

33:58

with the lines and the management

34:00

and all of your commons areas explicitly

34:02

designed to create novel, changing

34:05

environments, high consequences.

34:08

I mean obviously, next door Facebook’s got the shit fast,

34:11

break stuff, lean and agile design and development.

34:15

The entrepreneurial mentalities that you guys

34:17

have where failure is expected because if you’re not failing,

34:21

you’re not learning as rapidly as you might.

34:25

And deep embodiment, I mean it’s no mistake I think that you

34:31

guys here at Google, with founders who

34:34

were both Montessori children– which in the flow research

34:39

is the most flow-prone educational method

34:42

in the world, with sensorial, manipulative children sweeping

34:45

and cutting and actually using body and brain simultaneously,

34:51

as well as the founders’ passion for all things action

34:55

sports and adventure, the DNA of this place

34:58

is pretty much set up to be about an optimal an environment

35:02

for cultivating this as anywhere you could think of.

35:04

35:07

So Steven described the five neurochemicals

35:11

and described the neuroanatomy a little bit.

35:14

But let’s put this in motion.

35:16

Let’s actually put this in time, through time

35:19

as we might experience it.

35:21

Because what this is, what we’re calling the flow genome

35:25

matrix, which is literally what’s the genome?

35:27

What are the core components?

35:29

How do they work.

35:31

And if we have that knowledge, what can we do with it?

35:34

And just so you guys kind of track

35:36

the research, the lineage behind this model,

35:38

this comes largely out of Herbert Benson’s work

35:42

at Harvard, as well as Dr. Lesley Sherlinis, who

35:44

is the sort of mad scientist, EEG guy

35:47

behind a lot of the SEAL team and Red Bull

35:50

work that we just mentioned earlier.

35:52

But let’s just take a look at this process

35:54

because the first thing to dispel is that flow is a state.

35:58

So it comes and it goes.

36:00

It’s not an ever on kind of thing.

36:02

But it’s not like a light switch.

36:04

It’s not just, it’s on and I’m in it, or it’s off

36:06

and I’m someplace else.

36:07

It’s a cycle.

36:08

And it has at least four distinct stages.

36:11

So if we take a look at how those progress,

36:14

the first– whether you’re a more of a fan of M. Scott

36:17

Peck and “The Road Less Traveled” or Buddha

36:20

and his Noble Truths, either way, life’s a bitch.

36:24

Life is struggle.

36:26

And that’s how it starts.

36:27

And we start by being in over our heads.

36:29

We start by finding ourselves in a situation or a condition–

36:32

and this could be late night code delivery.

36:34

This could be some new, big business problem.

36:36

It could be relational, whatever it is.

36:38

And we start out of our depth.

36:41

And we end up with a bit of a sort of angel

36:43

and a devil dialogue on our shoulder.

36:45

So our prefrontal cortex that houses our executive function,

36:48

what we normally think as me and the thing we’ve

36:51

been rewarded in school and rewarded in work

36:54

for being smart and controlled and precise

36:55

and delivering things on time, we try and solve it

36:58

full frontal assault.

36:59

But the problem is bigger than that.

37:01

It’s bigger than our capabilities.

37:03

So we start toggling back to kind

37:06

of our primitive sense of self, our amygdala,

37:08

and is this a fight or flight situation?

37:10

Do I need to pull the rip cord?

37:12

And meanwhile, my brain waves are in quite rapid beta.

37:16

This is me trying to solve binary problems

37:18

and this may not be one.

37:20

And then I start getting cortisol

37:22

and I start getting adrenaline in my system.

37:25

And I’m really starting to get jacked.

37:27

And it’s either I’m going to collapse at this point,

37:29

right, it’s going to be a fetal position or–

37:31

or has anybody ever like put on boxing gloves at the gym

37:34

or tried to do something like that

37:36

and then you get like Mike Tyson?

37:37

You say everybody’s got a plan until they get hit?

37:39

Have you guys ever experienced an adrenalized response

37:42

where your knees are wobbly?

37:43

Or even if it’s just like cop lights in the car behind you

37:46

and it drives by.

37:47

And it just pools in your legs and you’re like grrh.

37:49

And you still feel like you need to like puke

37:51

on the side of the road.

37:52

That’s the adrenaline response.

37:54

So that’ll take most of us out.

37:56

Unless, either through just sheer fatigue, or dumb luck,

38:01

or knowing that there’s this actually loop on then,

38:04

I get into the next phase, which is the relaxation response.

38:08

And typically, and sort of pro tip,

38:10

when they did the research with the darker snipers,

38:13

as well as Olympic archers and everybody else,

38:15

the way they got into this, the way

38:16

they made that shift was focusing on breath.

38:19

So tip of the hat to all your guys’ meditation practices.

38:22

Focus on breath, lower your respiratory rate.

38:26

And you start approaching equilibrium.

38:28

Nitrous oxide enters the bloodstream

38:31

and flushes away the fight or flight chemicals,

38:34

flushes away the cortisol, flushes away

38:36

the norepinephrine.

38:38

And then brings in the dopamine, the endorphins,

38:43

and the anandamide.

38:45

At that point, my brain waves go from faster beta

38:48

into a slower alpha wave.

38:52

And I’m right there on the doorstep of the flow state.

38:57

I move into the flow state.

38:58

And again, there are four gradations.

39:01

I mean you can have what Steven had,

39:02

which was this sort of spontaneous, healing,

39:04

quasi-mystical experience, like, ah, man, I’m

39:06

one with everything.

39:07

Or you could just have it, hey, all the lights were green

39:09

and I got to work five minutes early.

39:11

How’s it going?

39:12

So the point here is that if you go into the deeper flow state,

39:16

you don’t just hang out in that alpha where I’m resourceful,

39:19

I’ve got insights.

39:21

I actually move into an even deeper, slower state

39:24

known as theta.

39:25

And typically, that’s one that only shows up

39:28

in lifetime meditators.

39:30

Any of the studies at Madison on Tibetan meditators, that’s

39:34

what you would see those guys be able to get into way

39:36

more often than us.

39:38

And the other time is kind of in that threshold between waking

39:41

and sleeping.

39:42

So if you’ve ever been lying on the couch

39:44

and you’re watching TV– “West Wing” used to do this to us all

39:46

the time, just soporific, grrh.

39:48

But in that moment before you’re unconscious,

39:50

you’re in a hypnogogic state.

39:52

And it’s so deeply relaxed, most of us just miss it.

39:56

We just go to sleep.

39:57

We nod off.

39:58

But if you’ve got discipline and training,

40:00

you can actually stay there and be alert and aware.

40:04

And there and only there can come these lightning bolts

40:08

of gamma.

40:10

And that becomes these gestalt integrations.

40:13

That become sort of your chocolate and my peanut butter

40:15

and yee-haw, we got some Reese’s.

40:17

It becomes those moments of massive lateral integration

40:23

that absolutely change the game.

40:26

And finally– and this is a critical stage that most of us

40:29

forget about.

40:30

We just don’t– oops, I just did that.

40:32

There we go.

40:34

Most of us forget about the recovery phase.

40:36

But I’m sure you guys have come across all this stuff

40:39

within the learning theory, which

40:40

is that when we think we’re learning,

40:42

we’re not really learning.

40:43

When we’re doing stuff, all we’re doing is collecting data.

40:46

And that most of our pattern consolidation

40:48

and actually annexing of new skills

40:50

is happening as we sleep, and specifically

40:53

when we sleep, in delta waves.

40:55

So by no means are we just have camping out for the week

40:58

after a flow state in delta.

41:00

We wanted to highlight that a lot of that integration, a lot

41:03

of my level up to what’s possible

41:06

for me now occurs in the delta frequencies of deep sleep.

41:10

So that in a nutshell is the cycle.

41:15

And think about what this means?

41:16

Because now that we know this we can hack it.

41:21

And what’s so interesting and exciting about that

41:25

is that think about the entire there sort of human development

41:29

track, including mindfulness, including optimal psychology,

41:31

including tons of the wonderful stuff that’s

41:34

both present inside this organization

41:36

and kind of happening more and more in the world, most of it

41:39

is trying to get our waking, conscious selves, our egos,

41:43

to go quiet, back to Steven’s slide

41:45

with our inner Woody Allen.

41:48

But that’s a real tar baby experience.

41:51

Because if I’m reading a book on how

41:52

to get rid of the very part of me that’s reading the book,

41:56

it’s kind of like hiding your own Easter eggs.

41:58

It’s pernicious.

41:59

It’s sticky.

42:00

And the more I struggle with it, the stucker I get.

42:04

That’s why you see so many uptight baby boomers at Esalen.

42:08

I mean it’s one of those situations.

42:09

I’m trying so hard that I cannot actually decouple from

42:13

the thing I’m trying to release.

42:15

So what this lets you do is back into it.

42:18

Don’t worry about who you are now and trying to change it.

42:22

Just optimize your bio, neuro self system and then

42:28

see what your subjective inner experience is.

42:30

And that’s potentially game changing and that’s kind

42:32

of right where we are on the verge of these days.

42:36

So I want to leave you guys with Steven,

42:40

on just kind of a sense of the direction of things,

42:42

where things are going next.

42:44

And then we’d love to invite your questions or queries

42:46

and potentially just have a conversation of what’s

42:48

possible.

42:49

Thank you very much guys.

42:51

[APPLAUSE]

42:52

42:57

STEVEN KOTLER: So two things.

43:00

Jamie gave you a look, high consequence, deep embodiment,

43:03

rich environment.

43:04

These are three flow triggers.

43:06

There are, we believe, 17 total flow triggers.

43:11

There are these three environmental triggers.

43:13

They’re external triggers.

43:14

There are three internal triggers.

43:16

These are psychological triggers.

43:17

There are 10 social triggers.

43:19

There is a shared version of a the flow state,

43:21

a collective version known as group flow.

43:23

There are 10 triggers that bring that on.

43:25

And as far as we know, there is one creative trigger.

43:28

There is also the flow cycle, which we just broke down.

43:30

So the flow cycle sort of functions

43:32

as a map for the experience.

43:34

And the triggers tell you what to do,

43:36

where you are in that map.

43:38

The really important thing and the thing

43:39

that I want to leave you with is that we

43:42

are at the very, very front edge of this research.

43:47

We have a pretty solid understanding

43:49

of the psychology of flow.

43:51

We understand the neurobiology.

43:53

What we don’t know is huge.

43:55

We don’t know, for example, the order of the cascade.

43:57

Neural chemicals proceed.

43:59

Neuroanatomical changes proceed.

44:01

Brain waves, we don’t know.

44:03

Nobody has a clue.

44:04

And the physiological questions, right?

44:06

We’ve got mind.

44:06

We’ve got brain.

44:07

But what’s actually going on in the body,

44:09

we’re at the front, front edge of that revolution.

44:12

We’re just starting to answer those questions.

44:14

And we’re not going to really get all this done until we have

44:17

what we’re calling a heat map of flow which

44:19

maps the psychology onto the neurobiology,

44:21

onto the physiology.

44:23

And the reason I’m telling you all this

44:24

is we know from the McKinsey study

44:27

that top executives are five times more productive in flow.

44:29

We know that action-and-adventure sports

44:31

athletes have produced near exponential growth

44:33

in ultimate human performance.

44:35

But we are just asked getting started.

44:36

If you talk to a lot of people in this world

44:39

and ask them what percent of our capabilities

44:42

do you think we’ve actually used,

44:44

even with all this kind of flow hacking stuff that we’re doing,

44:47

the answer you get is 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% 5%.

44:50

I’ve never actually heard anybody

44:52

give an answer above 5%.

44:54

Which is to say we are at the very

44:55

front end of this revolution.

44:57

The near exponential growth in ultimate human performance

45:00

showing up in action-and-adventure sports

45:02

may not be the endpoint.

45:03

It may be the starting point for possibility.

45:06

So that’s where I want to leave you guys.

45:08

And then we’ll open it up.

45:09

We’ll take questions.

45:10

We’ll have a discussion, whatever you want.

45:11

But thank you so much for listening.

45:14

[APPLAUSE]

45:15

45:20

AUDIENCE: So thanks a lot for the talk.

45:22

I’m a snow boarder, a kite surfer, a motorcycler.

45:25

And now I realize why I like those things so much.

45:29

I guess it was pretty evident.

45:30

But there was also research that showed

45:33

that people who ride motorcycles regularly kind of live longer.

45:39

[INAUDIBLE]

45:41

Your research–

45:42

STEVEN KOTLER: It definitely– I mean it certainly

45:45

jives with what we know about flow and the immune system.

45:47

But I would just assume that most who ride motorcycles

45:50

actually probably die younger.

45:52

AUDIENCE: That’s OK.

45:54

Accidents aside, yes.

45:55

But what I wanted to ask is generally

45:59

like in the computer world– or we also

46:01

have several courses at Google here

46:02

that claim that if you overclock your processor,

46:06

the lifespan decreases.

46:08

And what you claiming with your research or some

46:11

of the research you mentioned is that it actually improves

46:15

various aspects and creates long-term positive effects.

46:22

Is that true?

46:23

STEVEN KOTLER: Flow?

46:24

AUDIENCE: Yeah.

46:24

Yeah.

46:25

Having more flow in your life, which

46:26

means overclocking your processor.

46:28

And you mentioned about the release state

46:30

and the importance of that.

46:32

And I think we have several courses.

46:34

And [INAUDIBLE] and that talk about that and how important

46:37

it is to take breaks and stuff like that and so on.

46:40

But what I’m interested in is let’s

46:43

say I find a way to induce more flow in my life.

46:45

Is it actually going to also produce like long term–

46:49

or am I going to die early, like Steve Jobs?

46:52

STEVEN KOTLER: OK.

46:53

So there’s two kind of answers to this question.

46:58

The first is that the research shows

47:03

that the people with the most flow in their lives

47:05

are quote, unquote “the happiest people on Earth.”

47:07

That is something of a misnomer.

47:10

So flow always, always, always, always includes

47:15

kind of pushing yourself to the utmost.

47:19

You’re rising to the challenge.

47:20

One of the psychological triggers

47:22

is known as the challenge/skills ratio.

47:24

So all of these flow triggers that we

47:26

talk about, high consequence, deep embodiment, et cetera,

47:28

flow follows focus.

47:29

So all of these flow triggers are

47:32

ways of driving attention to the now.

47:34

So one of the ways we know we pay the most attention when

47:38

the skills we bring to the task are slightly less

47:42

than the challenge at hand.

47:43

It’s known as the challenge/skills ratio.

47:45

Flow exists when we are stretching, but not snapping.

47:49

You are constantly rising to meet your challenge.

47:53

The studies show that flow correlates directly

47:55

to life satisfaction.

47:56

You get more meaning.

47:57

You get more purpose.

47:58

Happiness is fleeting.

48:00

It’s in the moment.

48:01

It’s I feel really good right now.

48:03

That may not always be the case with flow

48:04

because rising to challenges are difficult.

48:07

It’s uncomfortable.

48:07

I always say that people who get really good at flow hacking,

48:10

get really, really good at being uncomfortable.

48:14

The other thing I wanted to say to kind of go back this

48:16

is– and I want to talk about why this is not self-help.

48:20

And it’s not self-help for a couple of reasons.

48:22

On the positive side, self-help is

48:24

about 5% increase, 10% increase.

48:26

It’s about three things I can tell you today

48:28

that you can start doing tomorrow

48:30

and your life is going to get better.

48:32

Flow is not like that at all.

48:34

It is not 5%.

48:35

It’s not 10%.

48:35

It is a step function-worth of change.

48:38

It is a big shift forward.

48:40

But it comes at a price.

48:42

Flow is dangerous.

48:44

These neurochemicals are very addictive.

48:46

So you’re playing with fundamentally

48:48

addictive neurochemistry.

48:49

Flow always requires what we call

48:52

an escalating ladder of risk.

48:53

You’re going to keep taking greater and greater chances,

48:56

pushing yourself farther, and farther, and farther.

48:58

That can get dangerous as well.

49:00

And you’re also playing with very fundamental

49:03

human motivations, autonomy, mastery, and purpose, which

49:06

is sort of what passion looks like under the hood.

49:08

These are all big flow triggers.

49:09

These all show up in flow.

49:11

They all produce more flow.

49:12

You don’t get to play with addictive neurochemistry

49:15

and these kind of fundamental human motivations

49:17

without danger.

49:18

People find themselves– they join a startup.

49:21

They get into lots of flow.

49:22

Startups are great at producing flow

49:24

for a lot of different reasons.

49:25

A lot of the flow triggers are kind of concentrated

49:27

in startups.

49:29

And then the startup phase ends and they’re sort of

49:31

locked out of flow.

49:33

There is a depression that can come from this.

49:35

If you get a lot of flow in your life

49:37

and some day are locked out, you can get very, very, very

49:39

deeply depressed.

49:40

JAMIE WHEAL: Just to speak specifically

49:42

to your overclocking the processor piece as well,

49:44

which is that the action sports athletes, when the swell is

49:47

breaking for [INAUDIBLE] in Maui,

49:49

like they all sit and do nothing.

49:51

It’s kind of almost a hunter/gather style.

49:52

We sit around, we tell stories, we talk shit,

49:54

and then something big and crazy happens.

49:55

We go and do it.

49:56

And then the swell has come.

49:58

The big storm has gone.

49:59

And I have a natural downtime.

50:01

And so that’s my life as an action sports

50:03

athlete cultivating flow.

50:05

But what’s my life in your guys’ world as knowledge workers

50:08

cultivating flow?

50:09

I do it.

50:10

I crush the project.

50:11

I come up with a novel solution.

50:12

What happens to me then?

50:14

I get promoted.

50:15

And so the pressure in our controlled environments

50:19

to continue to do it and to continue to tap and to go back.

50:22

And now, I’m just revving at a higher level.

50:25

And I’ve got all kinds of obligations and commitments

50:27

to do this on command, I think is real.

50:30

And that– which we don’t have up now, but back

50:32

to that recovery phase– becomes vital to ensure that I’m fully

50:37

replenishing that very expensive state I’ve just produced.

50:40

That I’m annexing the information and that

50:42

I’m stably integrating it into my both psychology

50:45

and physiology.

50:47

AUDIENCE: And the question is, for example,

50:50

all these sport or energy drinks can boost your adrenalin

50:56

and stuff.

50:56

It looks like it doesn’t go really well with flow.

50:59

Like you can’t release because your body

51:01

is like filled with chemicals that actually boost you up.

51:05

And so, for example, Red Bull and all these pro athletes,

51:08

how does it go together?

51:10

STEVEN KOTLER: It’s a tricky question.

51:11

And part of the answer is we don’t know.

51:14

But one of the things that it does appear

51:17

is that at the front end of the flow state,

51:19

you’ve got cortisol rising, that norepinephrine rising.

51:23

If there’s too much of that stuff– and a lot

51:25

of these energy drinks flood the body

51:28

with more of these chemicals– it

51:31

does appear that that can block the relaxation response.

51:34

So essentially what’s happening when

51:36

you go from kind of the heightened focus

51:39

and the struggle phase into the relaxation

51:41

sometimes, that’s when the switch

51:43

from conscious to subconscious processing is taking place.

51:47

Norepinephrine sort of, when you have too much of it,

51:51

it functions sort of like OCD.

51:52

You can’t let go.

51:53

You’re holding on to the problem and you’re thinking it,

51:56

you’re thinking it, and you’re thinking it.

51:58

And that could absolutely block the release state.

52:00

It could block the rest of the flow state.

52:03

That said, there’s caffeine.

52:04

There’s a whole bunch of other things in Red Bull.

52:07

You can say that Red Bull is a flow precursor in some cases.

52:10

It can be a flow blocker.

52:12

It’s very individual.

52:13

And neurochemistry appears to be individual.

52:17

All of our receptors, our receptors

52:20

for these neurochemicals are essentially coded genetically,

52:22

how receptive they are.

52:24

So it really could differ at an individual level.

52:27

And we just don’t now.

52:29

JAMIE WHEAL: And on the healthy side,

52:30

if you really are looking for something like what

52:32

might I take or do, the most interesting stuff– and I

52:34

just down at Red Bull on Friday and was talking with a Ph.D.

52:37

candidate specializing into this, which is– nitric oxide,

52:40

we talked about, right, was the neurotransmitter

52:42

that prompts you go from struggle to release.

52:45

The best exogenous form of it is high concentrate beet juice.

52:49

It’s high nitrate.

52:50

Most pro-endurance athletes in the world are using it.

52:53

It sort of debuted in between Beijing and maybe even

52:55

London as far as the Olympic stuff.

52:57

And there’s a company, James Smith,

52:59

which we have no affiliation with.

53:00

But they’re out of England.

53:01

They’re royal insignia stuff.

53:03

And they do the both high nitrate, measured

53:06

in joule shots, as well as placebo ones.

53:09

So all the academic community globally uses them.

53:12

So two or three hours after ingestion of high nitrate beet

53:16

juice, it can transform into nitric oxide.

53:18

And that’s potentially, as far as healthy.

53:20

And actually has some mechanical impact on this.

53:23

It’s probably one of the best things to look at.

53:26

AUDIENCE: Sorry.

53:26

I don’t want to talk too much.

53:28

And omega-3 might have some positive influence

53:30

on like getting into flow.

53:32

Is it like research some behind it?

53:36

JAMIE WHEAL: What might?

53:37

AUDIENCE: Omega-3.

53:38

JAMIE WHEAL: That’s a mixed bag, man.

53:40

I mean in the last six months, there’s

53:42

been a fair amount of sort of not so positive stuff

53:45

on omega-3’s, and just questions on prostate cancer in men,

53:49

and various other sort of ancillary things.

53:51

That said, the chief physician for the Coronado SEAL teams

53:57

gave a presentation specifically on the role of fish oils

54:00

and high-grade fish oils, on depression,

54:03

on physiological recovery, on sort

54:05

of stability of mental states, all kinds of things.

54:07

And their evidence, at least with the data

54:10

sets they were working with, was overwhelmingly positive.

54:14

So I don’t know right now.

54:16

And I kind of wish I did because I like that certainty.

54:20

AUDIENCE: So you mentioned the researcher

54:22

who had done a lot of work on the brain waves and then

54:26

with your diagram.

54:26

Can you tell us a little bit more

54:28

about him or her and how they came up

54:31

with their research, et cetera?

54:33

STEVEN KOTLER: Yeah, Dr. Leslie Sherlin.

54:35

He is probably the world’s leading researcher

54:38

on kind of the brain waves, neuroelectricity

54:41

of high performance.

54:42

He– five years ago, six years, I

54:44

don’t know when they actually started the project–

54:46

he teamed up with Red Bull.

54:48

So there was at guy Red Bull, whose name

54:49

is Andy Walshe, a friend of ours,

54:51

who’s the head of high performance.

54:53

His job is to take the best athletes in the world

54:55

and make them better.

54:56

He teamed up with Leslie and they

54:58

built essentially a neuroscience skunkworks.

55:00

So the problem with EEG has been noise.

55:05

So I can put an EEG on your head and I can look at brain waves.

55:09

But if you yawn, if you blink, all that stuff

55:13

is going to register as static, as noise.

55:15

It’s going obscure the signal.

55:18

So motion, which is if you want to look

55:20

at action-and-adventure sport athletes, it’s a real problem.

55:22

And we’ve only recently gotten to the point

55:25

that our algorithms can actually filter out the noise of motion.

55:29

So Leslie has developed what they call Brain Sport.

55:31

It’s a wireless, portable EEG.

55:33

And I think they’ve looked at 5,000 athletes.

55:37

They’ve compared the top 1% athletes,

55:40

the elite of the elite, with the top 5%, with the top 20%.

55:44

And just kind of looked at them across the board.

55:46

So that’s where a lot of this research came from.

55:48

JAMIE WHEAL: Yeah.

55:49

And actually just to finish on that,

55:50

the interesting thing they found was there was not a default MO.

55:53

There wasn’t a consistent pattern.

55:54

It wasn’t like the action-and-sports athletes

55:56

all performed like Tibetan monks or something like that.

55:58

But what they realized was it was

55:59

almost like the shock absorber on a motorcycle.

56:01

It was resilience and the ability to– they

56:03

could come into the flow state from a bunch

56:05

of different locations, depending on sports-specific,

56:09

genealogy, training, whatever.

56:10

But it was their resilience and their adaptiveness

56:14

that distinguished the elite from even the advanced right

56:17

below them.

56:18

AUDIENCE: A quick question on audio stimuli.

56:20

I know there are software programs, CDs out there,

56:23

that can supposedly bring your mind down

56:27

to these different wave patterns.

56:30

Have you done any research on that?

56:32

If those things actually work or if they

56:33

can help advance the flow?

56:35

STEVEN KOTLER: I’m going to let Jaime talk

56:37

about this in a second.

56:37

But there’s one thing I really want

56:39

to say because it’s a pet peeve.

56:41

It makes me crazy.

56:43

There are a lot of companies out there

56:45

who are, hey, this produces flow.

56:47

And its single correlate research.

56:49

It’s we can get your brain waves to alpha-theta.

56:52

Or there’s some data that says cardiac coherence produces

56:57

flow, and blah, blah.

56:57

So there’s a lot of companies, a lot of widgets,

56:59

and a lot of things that trigger one of these things.

57:04

Flow is a huge cascade.

57:05

It’s a full body/brain reaction.

57:08

There is nothing out there that produces–

57:10

except some of the work that we’re

57:12

doing at the Flow Genome Project.

57:13

And we’re not there yet.

57:14

But we’re sure trying to map it.

57:16

But most everything’s that’s out there is a single correlate

57:18

thing.

57:19

So we’ve got music that can drive your brain

57:22

waves towards alpha, towards alpha-theta.

57:25

That’s great.

57:25

That’s neat.

57:26

It’s going to produce parts of this experience.

57:29

But it is a full-on, deep flow experience

57:32

with a full neurochemical dump?

57:33

No.

57:34

There’s nothing that says that it can happen.

57:37

And there’s not any evidence of it.

57:40

So these single correlate fixes, they’re getting at it.

57:43

They’re moving in the right direction.

57:45

But the truth claims make me pretty nervous.

57:47

JAMIE WHEAL: Yeah.

57:48

And simply from the research I’ve

57:51

seen, bineural beats, which is what you’ll see a lot of those.

57:53

And they stagger themselves slightly

57:55

and it’s supposed to entrain your brain.

57:57

I haven’t seen a lot of corroborating research

58:00

to actually support all of those truth claims.

58:02

The stuff that has had a little bit stronger evidence based

58:05

on backing is isochronic brain wave entrainment.

58:08

And the nice thing about it is you

58:10

don’t have to have headphones on.

58:11

You can actually just listen to it.

58:13

But even beyond that– I mean there’s a reason

58:15

that the whole electronic scene has blown up

58:17

so hugely in the last five to 10 years.

58:19

There’s a reason, Burning Man culture,

58:21

all of those bits and pieces, is that very high fidelity, loud,

58:25

cleanly separated sounds absolutely

58:27

have a psychodynamic effect.

58:29

And you can take that to West Africa.

58:30

I mean there’s ancient traditions on that.

58:33

So even without the fancy technology under the hood

58:35

that someone may be selling you, clearly music

58:38

has a powerful psychosomatic effect.

58:42

AUDIENCE: How do the sympathetic and parasympathetic

58:45

nervous systems come into play in all this?

58:48

JAMIE WHEAL: Well, can you go ahead

58:50

and just take another couple of steps into that and give us a–

58:53

AUDIENCE: Yeah.

58:54

So specifically in the struggle, release, recovery– or sorry,

59:00

struggle, release, flow recovery phases you showed earlier,

59:08

the struggle phase kind of reminded me

59:10

of what I had heard very anecdotally and

59:12

unscientifically about the sympathetic nervous system.

59:15

And then the alpha waves kind of reminded me

59:17

of the parasympathetic nervous system.

59:19

And I was wondering if that’s true?

59:22

JAMIE WHEAL: Yeah.

59:22

I mean the short answer is don’t know.

59:26

And I think it’s the tracking– I

59:27

mean being able to track the neurotransmitters

59:30

in a live human, right, tricky, as well as to be

59:34

able to have multivariable sensing.

59:36

So just to give you guys an understanding,

59:38

like where is the marketplace?

59:39

Where’s the cutting edge?

59:40

So we mentioned that darker, Quantified Warrior project.

59:43

They love the Red Bull guys because the Red Bull guys

59:46

are just trying real stuff with people.

59:48

They’re actually out there with their athletes

59:50

and trying to get them better.

59:51

Where government and military projects are much more

59:53

kind of– just the way they move, and innovate, and think

59:56

is just distinct.

59:57

And so they love the Red Bull guys

59:59

because they’re trying stuff.

60:00

We go to the Red Bull guys and we’re

60:02

talking with the scientists.

60:02

And we’re like, hey, have you put this together with that?

60:04

Well, what about these three things?

60:06

And even those guys, bless their hearts,

60:08

aren’t actually doing an integrated, multivariable

60:11

metrics and management.

60:13

So the short answer is we don’t know yet.

60:15

And I would picture that those are

60:16

the kind of fascinating questions that

60:18

hopefully in the next five years or so we’ll be starting

60:21

to help facilitate those conversations and those

60:23

[INAUDIBLE].

60:23

AUDIENCE: Is the fight or flight response,

60:25

would that be an example or symptom of that struggle phase?

60:29

60:32

STEVEN KOTLER: So the fight or flight is.

60:33

It’s one example.

60:34

60:41

It’s one extreme example.

60:43

But when you talk to the action-and adventure sport

60:45

athletes about it, what they will tell

60:47

you is that they ride the heightened focus of the fight

60:53

or flight response in the flow.

60:56

They sort of get into the gap before actually the fear

60:59

becomes an emotion.

61:00

They see it kind of rising and they just

61:03

ride that focus into flow and block that response.

61:08

Flow is flowy because its choice is wide open.

61:13

One of the reasons you can make almost picture-perfect decision

61:17

making is because you have lots of options.

61:18

You’re taking in more information, et cetera,

61:20

et cetera.

61:21

In the fight or flight response, your options

61:23

are fight, flight, or flee.

61:25

It’s totally the opposite.

61:27

So you are right, it is totally the opposite.

61:28

But you can ride one into the other.

61:31

JAMIE WHEAL: So the first thing is, yeah,

61:33

anyone in their right mind should be afraid

61:35

when you’re rolling the dice on 16 feet per second per second.

61:39

So natural and healthy.

61:41

And then the question is, is it back to Steven’s point

61:44

about the challenge and skills?

61:46

Is it enough out of my comfort zone that I am nowhere else?

61:50

In fact, I have a friend who is the CEO of a big company.

61:53

He says I don’t like road biking because when I’m on the road,

61:57

I’m still in my day.

61:59

I love that trail that we ride because I am nowhere else

62:03

for the three minutes it takes to get down it.

62:06

And so the beauty is can I find that place where I’m nowhere

62:09

else, but not in the hospital?

62:11

[LAUGHTER]

62:13

STEVEN KOTLER: Most people have had tons of flow experiences.

62:16

You probably have them almost on a daily basis

62:18

and you don’t actually realize it.

62:20

And here’s why.

62:21

Flow exists on a spectrum.

62:23

It like any emotion, like anger, right?

62:25

You can be a little irate or you can be homicidally murderous.

62:29

So there’s micro-flow when action and awareness start

62:33

to mere, maybe time starts to dilate,

62:34

and you’re paying attention to the [INAUDIBLE].

62:36

Macro-flow, where you get all of the various conditions of flow

62:39

at once.

62:39

If you’ve ever lost yourself in a great conversation,

62:42

the whole afternoon disappears.

62:44

If you’ve ever gotten so sucked into a work project

62:46

that nothing else seems to matter for a little while,

62:49

those are all micro-flow experiences.

62:51

They’re on the same spectrum leading up

62:54

to these giant, deep flow experiences.

62:56

So, as I said, there are 17 flow triggers.

63:00

The more flow triggers that get packed into an event,

63:03

the greater the chance you’re going

63:04

to move into a really like truly deep flow

63:07

experience rather than a micro-flow experience.

63:09

But we have these micro-flow experiences.

63:11

We recognize deep flow.

63:12

We know it immediately, time dilated or something.

63:15

Like you’re like, oh, my god, I’m in that state.

63:17

But what we miss is that we’re in micro-flow all the time.

63:21

And if you actually can start watching for it,

63:23

you can start extending it and deepening it.

63:25

You can play with it and really start to utilize it.

63:29

STEVEN KOTLER: By the way, when they do flow studies,

63:31

as a manager, one of the most common flow

63:34

experiences among middle managers in conversation

63:36

at work.

63:37

Why?

63:38

Work usually involves money.

63:40

So it’s high consequence.

63:41

It’s a higher consequence environment.

63:42

And then you start looking at the social triggers, group

63:45

flow.

63:45

Work conversations tend to drive them.

63:47

You don’t have them in casual conversations at home

63:49

when you’re hanging out with your friends.

63:50

But work conversations tend to produce this more often.

63:53

AUDIENCE: Yeah.

63:53

Can you tell us a bit more about the flow dojo?

63:56

And is there a physical space that exists?

63:59

What are you doing there?

64:00

When do you plan to do with the dojo?

64:02

JAMIE WHEAL: What I’ll do is I’ll just describe it to you.

64:04

But yes, I mean our answer really

64:06

is what would it be like to sort of combine

64:09

a Montessori-prepared environment, but for grown-ups,

64:12

and exploratory style, interactive, sort of

64:16

exhibits in installations?

64:17

But instead of for science, have it be for embodied cognition,

64:22

with a sprinkling of X-games.

64:25

So you have fun, safe ways to give people the sensorimotor

64:29

inputs that these athletes typically use themselves

64:32

and then put a layer of quantified self on top of it.

64:34

So giant geodesic dome playground training centers,

64:38

whereby we can all train our games.

64:40

We can all burn and fuse additional neural pathways.

64:44

And we can put ourselves into that nonseeking

64:48

state of hyperperformance.

64:51

And ultimately back to the drowning

64:53

in information, starving for motivation.

64:55

At least our assessment of most developmental technologies–

64:59

there’s so much great stuff out there.

65:01

Most of us fail in long-term practice.

65:04

So if we can go back to that autotelic piece

65:06

and harness flow states in service of whatever

65:09

my goals in life and work are, but ultimately even

65:12

the following of well-worn lineage paths in the wisdom

65:15

traditions or whatever else is up, if we can do that,

65:18

it’s something pretty amazing.

65:19

And certainly communities with you guys,

65:21

places like this where there’s such sort

65:24

of high-value human capital, the ability

65:27

to optimize that, both in the moment and longitudinally,

65:32

feels really useful.

65:33

It feels like a way to help impact it.

65:36

STEVEN KOTLER: Let me add two quick things to that.

65:38

One, the more flow you have, the more flow you have.

65:42

So this all about attention.

65:45

You’re training the brain go into the flow.

65:48

So you can train the brain on the ski slope to go into flow.

65:52

It’s going to bleed into your work at the office.

65:55

You’re going to find yourself getting to flow more easily.

65:58

If you can learn how to do this one area, it transfers over.

66:01

And I want to just kind of give you

66:03

an ephemeral look at the flow dojo.

66:05

I want to give you just kind of like this is the gear,

66:07

this is what we’re doing, this is what it looks like.

66:09

One of things we have– and there’s lots and lots of toys–

66:12

but one thing is we have is a 20-foot looping surf swing.

66:15

So you stand on a surfboard.

66:17

Your feet are strapped in.

66:18

Your writs are strapped in.

66:20

And you can be upside down, 25 feet off the ground or pulling

66:24

3 and 1/2 gees at the bottom of the loop.

66:26

So you’ve got high consequence, novelty, unpredictability,

66:30

and complexity, our rich environment,

66:32

lots of those things as well.

66:35

All of those flow triggers are there.

66:37

So we’ve got that.

66:39

Simultaneously, you are wearing Leslie Sherline and the Brain

66:43

Sport helmet, the EEG helmet.

66:45

So we know flow exists near alpha-theta.

66:48

So the entire giant surf swing is lined in LED lights.

66:53

So it is real-time neurofeedback.

66:55

So you’re wearing this thing.

66:56

You’re pulling all these flow triggers.

66:58

But you can also drive your brain.

67:01

If you are in alpha-theta, it glows red.

67:04

If you are in beta, it’s blue.

67:05

So you have real-time neurofeedback.

67:07

And to solve the mystery– because our real goal– well,

67:10

one of our real goals is to really advance

67:12

flow science and culture– you are wired head to toe

67:15

with all the quantified self, data-gathering stuff.

67:18

So not only are we using these flow triggers and neurofeedback

67:22

to drive you into flow, we are data capturing along the way.

67:25

And I hate the term “big data.”

67:27

I don’t think it means anything.

67:29

But hopefully, this allow us to take a big data approach

67:31

to flow, which hasn’t been done before.

67:34

Csikszentmihalyi did it at psychological level.

67:35

Nobody has done it at the neurobiological level.

67:37

And that’s what this is about.

67:41

AUDIENCE: Have you considered looking

67:42

into the personalization aspect of flow?

67:46

Because I’m not sure that everybody

67:47

experiences flow in the same way.

67:48

I mean not for the same activities.

67:50

For example, some people this you studied are like athletes.

67:55

But– I don’t know.

67:57

I mean there are scientists who think

67:59

that differently, et cetera.

68:01

There’s all this research about personality types, et cetera.

68:05

The Gallup organization itself, to solve their problem

68:08

of 71% of engagement, developed their own system,

68:12

which is called StrengthsFinder.

68:13

STEVEN KOTLER: Yeah.

68:14

Sure.

68:15

AUDIENCE: And I think people who use their talents according

68:17

to them are a kind of like in the flow states

68:20

because they are using their talents.

68:22

JAMIE WHEAL: Yes.

68:23

Exactly.

68:23

So what is my typology?

68:24

What kind of a person am I and what

68:26

is my unique signature and entry points?

68:29

Absolutely.

68:29

We’ve actually been doing, again,

68:31

a very preliminary, but intriguing initial flow

68:34

profile.

68:34

And we’ve had several thousand folks

68:36

take it just in the last three or four weeks.

68:38

And interestingly– the categories we had was

68:41

hard-charger, so the classic action sports profile we just

68:44

described and most of what you just described; a deep thinker,

68:47

someone a little bit more introspective,

68:49

potentially doing coding or creative work;

68:52

one more socially oriented; and then potentially one more sort

68:55

of— the quintessential kind of [? Loewe Haas ?] personality

68:58

types, sort of the yoga, meditation, et cetera.

69:01

And 50% of the respondents were deep thinkers.

69:06

They actually found themselves more

69:07

introverted, quiet, reflective avenues into flow.

69:11

And again, to Steven’s point, what

69:12

we anticipate– I mean I would be stunned if it didn’t show up

69:15

this way– is that there is no such thing as a monolithic flow

69:18

state, as we really get into it.

69:20

There will be kind of a scatter plot on a heat map.

69:23

And it will depend on the person,

69:25

it will depend on the environment,

69:27

and it will depend on the tasks at hand,

69:29

how exactly they get in there, which cascade they trigger

69:33

and to what extent.

69:35

And we will see probably areas of clustering.

69:38

But probably a much broader, complex equation than we

69:43

first talk about.

69:44

STEVEN KOTLER: And the one thing I want to add

69:45

is we talk about the action-and-adventure sports

69:47

athletes as this great example of flow hacking.

69:49

But we’re in Silicon Valley.

69:52

The three things that built this Valley

69:54

are network design, circuit design, and software design

69:57

pretty much.

69:58

And you can’t do any of those things well,

70:01

really, really well, without flow.

70:03

Coding and flow goes hand in hand.

70:05

The research goes all the back.

70:06

The same thing with all those categories.

70:08

So if you’re looking for a nonathletic example of what

70:10

happens when groups of people start getting into flow

70:12

on a regular basis, Silicon Valley

70:14

is not a bad place to start.

70:16

MALE SPEAKER: Big hand for Steven and Jamie.

70:18

Thank you.

70:18

STEVEN KOTLER: Thanks guys.

70:20

[APPLAUSE]

70:22

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