I had the awesome opportunity to catch up with the incredible New York Times Best Selling Author, Journalist & Entrepreneur, “Steven Kotler” to talk about the future world of business, finding our motivation, enhancing human performance and tapping into flow.
During the interview I discovered there’s no such thing as living in a permanent flow state. The NZT pill from that movie “Limitless” doesn’t exist. But the art of flow maintenance and the decoding of accelerated human performance does.
Steven Kotler shares the 4 stages of flow and a tonne of other inspirational insights with us in the podcast audio stream below:
Here are the 4 Stages of The Flow Cycle
Flow is a four stage cycle. You have to move through all 4 stages to get into flow and you have to restart the cycle to get back into flow.
Stage 1: Struggle
This phase is the learning phase, the skill acquisition phase that could go on for days, weeks, or even months. This stage is not pleasant. This is when emotional fortitude comes in handy.
Learning is an invisible process. You don’t know what you don’t know until all the parts comes together for you to see it. Just remember that the more frustrated you’re getting, it actually means that you are moving in the right direction. So the key is to interpret frustration very differently than how you would usually think about it, in that situation.
Stage 2: Release
During the first stage of struggle we are thinking about “things” all the time. So to move into the 2nd stage of “Release”, so we can let the sub conscious take over, we have to stop thinking about these “things”. We have to take our mind off the problem.
What works best in this stage is low grade physical activity:
– Work in the garden
– Go for a walk
Don’t exercise yourself into exhaustion, just a little bit of exercise.
You should also stay away from watching television. The television blocks the brain waves you need for flow and this will keep you out of state.
When you take your mind off the problem, the body releases Nitric Oxide which is a gaseous signalling molecule that flushes all the stress hormones out of your system and starts flooding you with positive performance enhancing neuro-chemicals.
Stage 3: Flow
This stage is where you experience the optimal state of consciousness. You’re more creative, more focused, and magically motivated, like you’re able to feel your best and perform the best. Almost like an outer body experience.
This is when you’re able to turn the ordinary into extraordinary.
Stage 4: Recovery
Flow is very expensive. It takes a lot of energy to produce so it takes a while to replenish. The neuro-chemicals burn out very quickly, so you need certain vitamins, certain minerals, food and sunshine to get more of them.
You go from feeling like superman in “Flow”, to feeling like absolute crap in “Recovery”.
All of the brains most potent feel good drugs are no longer in your system and it’s very difficult to cope with emotionally, a lot of people have a really hard time here and that’s a problem to because if you have a really hard time with this and you don’t have enough emotional IQ to figure out what’s going on, you start having an even harder time with this and your body starts releasing cortisol. If you’re stuck in this recovery stage with a lot of cortisol, you will block your long term learning.
To work you’re way back to the 1st stage of struggle you have to get through the recovery phase first.
If you’re not getting 8 hours of sleep a night you cannot recover from flow.
Understanding where you are in the cycle is fundamental, so you can drive your way through it. It’s mainly about respecting the frustration on the front end and that recovery has to happen on the back end.