SA 069: Discovering, Dissecting and Hacking Flow State with Steven Kotler


Steven Kotler

Steven Kotler: His writings have been translated into over 40 languages and appeared in over 80 publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Forbes, Wired and TIME. He also writes “Far Frontiers,” a blog about science and culture for, appears frequently on television and radio, and lectures widely on technological, scientific and cultural issues, both to corporate and education institutions.

Alongside his wife, the author Joy Nicholson, Steven is the cofounder of Rancho de Chihuahua, a dog sanctuary in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. He has a BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA from Johns Hopkins University and, whenever possible, can be found hurling himself down mountains at high speeds.

Guest Bio:


Some Questions We Ask:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • What does Steven consider success? How do people achieve the impossible? Steven talks about the idea of success being a process.
  • What led Steven down this path? The punk rock counterculture shaped his formative years. His journey hasn’t been a straight forward, clear path.
  • Steven talks about his parents and childhood, which included lots of books.
  • Steven wasn’t a natural born athlete and played what he calls “outsider activities.”
  • His proudest moment includes breaking 82 bones
  • How Steve’s experience with Lyme Disease and suicidal thoughts led him to the Flow Genome Project
  • Mystical instances in Flow states
  • The healing power of non-ordinary states, such as near death experiences
  • How to use fear, pain, and barriers to your advantage and get to a flow state
  • The different kinds of grit and how they relate to Flow
  • The neurobiological and scientific details of Flow and why it feels like a mystical experience
  • “Transient Hypofrontality”
  • Bringing Flow to schools
  • Skills vs. States of Mind
  • Explaining pro-social chemicals in Flow and how it causes a strong bond.
  • Exercise induced transient hypofrontality
  • The roles nutrition, sleep, and technology play in achieving Flow states.
  • Steven gives the fundamentals of Flow and walks us through how he starts his day, including the importance of meditation.
  • How to find flow in your life right now

Notable Quotes:

“Success isn’t a living thing.”

“Almost every successful person I’ve ever met is running from something just as fast as they’re running towards something.”

“I’ve seen all successful people lean on Flow very heavily.”

“I think mastery is the ability to have creative high performance in almost any direction.”

“Work really hard. Don’t lie. Try not to complain.” – ethos from childhood

“I popped up into a dimension I didn’t even know existed.” – surfing after almost committing suicide

“I’m a science guy. I don’t have mystical experiences… and I was having consistent mystical experiences.”

“Learn to use fear like a compass.”

“You have to get good at struggle.”

“To maximize flow, you have to be able to maximize adversity.”

“Evolution shaped our brains to solve certain problems certain ways.”

“21st century normal is tired, wired, and stressed.”

“Passion is a phenomenal flow trigger.”

“Viciously protect the first 90 minutes of your work day.”

“Hang a sign on the door that says ‘Fuck off, I’m Flowing.”

“If you’re not doing [Flow] in your organization, I don’t believe you’ll be able to keep up long term.”

“Flow follows focus.”


Book: Stealing Fire


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