Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Reprise: Tennis Book Review - The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, by Steven Kotler

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, by Steven Kotler (New York, NY: New Harvest, 2014)(236 Pages)

Tennis players call it "being in the zone." Marathoners call it "runner's high." Action and adventure athletes call it "the flow". Psychologists call it "optimal performance." 

What is it? It's a mental state of effortless decision-making and intense creativity. And it results in supreme performance. 

Some describe it as a zone where action and awareness converge, and become heightened. And time itself dilates and distorts - meaning it sometimes seems to move slower and sometimes faster, depending on what helps to achieve the task at hand. People say that your sense of "individual self" disappears. And your awareness, almost mystically, merges with the universe. 

And it's experienced by not only athletes but also musicians, architects, engineers, artists, authors and many others. It applies not only to sports but also to art, poetry, music, writing and other fields. Indeed, anyone engaged in a great human challenge requiring supreme creativity and energy can potentially experience it. 

How does it work?  And how do you achieve it? 

Those are the questions this book seeks to answer by exploring the science of this state known as:  "the flow." 

Steven Kotler is a sports journalist who chooses to examine "the flow" through investigating "extreme" athletes who perform under pressure in "high-risk" sports. Examples of these are mega-wave surfing, big-ramp skateboarding, and free mountain-climbing (done with no ropes). And he reviews and analyzes more than 10 years of scientific research into the topic. 

His conclusion: "The flow" is a definable and knowable state of behavior. It can be "decoded." And its blueprint can be followed by all of us to try and reach higher performance levels in any human activity.

And while it may be true that most of us may never reach the supreme level of "genius" or "legend' ---  the bottom line still is that we all embody the capacity to rise up a little closer to "Superman." 

A few suggested Flow Conditions and Triggers:

Kotler proposes that this special state requires certain FLOW CONDITIONS
*The sense of "individual self" vanishes
*Time dilates and distorts
*A state of fearlessness to the body and in the mind
*All "non-essentials" to the task at hand fall away

And that to help us get there we focus on practical points called FLOW TRIGGERS.
*Letting go of your surroundings
*Staying in the Present
*Ultra focus on the task or object at hand
*Visualizing optimal performance 

You Tube Video (12:42):
"What the Science of Flow Can Teach Us About Limitless Performance" (Steven Kotler)