Becoming Superman: Unlocking the Science of Ultimate Human Performance with Steven Kotler


Every athlete performs at his best when he is “in the zone” and reaches flow.

It’s one of the most beautiful moments to watch when athletes reach flow state – it’s an eye watering symphony in motion.

This magical place is the best feeling on earth and its addictive nature is why we’ve seen so many amazing feats performed in extreme sports, and many brutal accidents as well.

I’ve always been passionate about getting in the zone and this week on  The School of Greatness I have an expert guest with intimate knowledge of what it means to be in flow.

He is a New York Times Bestselling author who has overcome some extreme challenges to become the foremost expert on high performance.  Welcome to episode 53 with Steven Kotler.

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The School of Greatness Podcast

Stephen Kotler on the School of Greatness podcast with Lewis Howes

 “If you look at action/adventure sports as a data set over the past 25 years, what you see is nearly exponential growth in ultimate human performance.”

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Decoding the science of ultimate human performance
  • Strategies for getting into the zone/being in flow

“Flow seems to reset the nervous system.”

  • Forms of Flow States: In the Zone, Runner’s High, In the Pocket, The Forever Box…
  • Steven’s struggles with lime disease and the amazing story of how he overcame it with surfing
  • Understanding the exponential growth of human performance over the past 50 years
  • The unknown history of the research of flow
  • About the dynamics of group flow
  • What triggers flow

“These athletes are getting into flow more frequently than anyone else in the world.”

  • How cocaine and skydiving are similar, but the huge difference
  • A source code of intrinsic motivation
  • My flow story of breaking a World Record
  • The Four Stages of Flow:
  1. Struggle
  2. Relaxation
  3. Flow
  4. Memory Learning & Consolidation Phase
  • Where people screw up when Flow Hacking
  • Why being in flow enhances long term memory retention

“Surfing is not a known cure for chronic auto-immune conditions… so what is this?”

  • How snipers use flow to increase skill acquisition by 230%
  • To understand the extreme danger and responsibility inherent in seeking flow states.
  • 3 Environmental Triggers that Action/Adventure sports athletes pull from
  1. High Consequence
  2. Rich Environment
  3. Deep Embodiment
  • How to successfully transition from a high flow position (Pro Athlete/Extreme Sports) to a lesser extreme version
  • Building innovation teams with flow
  • Helpers high, a flow state that can last for days

“Look at surfers, these are people that are not known for being hyper responsible in life… yet if it’s firing overhead tubes, they’re out there at 4:00am for dawn patrol.”

  • What it means to be a Bliss Junky
  • Understanding Challenge vs. Skills dynamic and where the optimal performance balance is
  • Plus much more…

Continue Seeking Greatness:

Rise of Superman | On Forbes | Twitter | Facebook

  • Music Credit: Being Human by Skrux ft. Mona Moua (Arkana Remix)

“Creativity is a phenomenal flow trigger”

Did you enjoy the podcast?


What did you love most about this episode?  Have you ever reached Flow in your life?  If so, what was the most memorable time and how often do you reach it?   Please share your thoughts in the comment section below and share this article with your friends online. 

“It’s about chasing the best possible version of yourself. You have to put yourself into the struggle.”

The Science of Flow with Lewis Howes and Steven Kotler

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Dr. Chase Hayden
Dr. Chase Hayden

I listened to this podcast about 3 weeks ago, ordered the book, and really enjoyed it. I felt like I got a lot out of the book, and am looking for ways to increase flow states in my own life now. Thanks again!


This is definitely one of the most interesting interviews I've heard. Picked up some great new insights. Thanks as always Lewis!


This was an epic episode!


Your story about getting into a flow during a football game brought back memories for me. I've had that superman experience a few times and it is the most addictive feeling the in the world!


Fantastic episode. Off to buy and gift his book to others who I know would love to apply these principles.


Last night, we recorded my performance on an indoor bicycle trainer. With the video camera running and support team watching...I reached a new PR by 50 Watts! 

What element of the film crew increased my performance by this considerable improvement?


Great show!
I am big believer in this and need a nice reminder.

Spent much of my time last few years skiing with pros just to step up my flow.
I remember realizing that I needed more than just one "flow" activity in my life to not plateau
Great points with the "dark side" of flow.

Thanks to you both

Shannon Hernandez
Shannon Hernandez

Bro, this was such an AMAZING podcast! I was on the drive into the city today and listened to the whole thing and really enjoyed it. If you had a great time interviewing him, I think the audience had a better time listening.  Great job, Lewis!


I really enjoy your great insight from A-Z.. If you want to attract women fast, the answer isn't pickup lines — the answer is to develop your “Inner Game” and become a guy who naturally attracts women. www.guidetoattractwomen.com

Mistress Vivian
Mistress Vivian

Thank you for introducing the importance of  "Flow State" in regards to health benefits, the possibility of the transmutation of energy, and the happiness factor.  Working as a professional dominatrix and fetishist ,I and my submissive clients are taking advantage of this natural chemical stage on a regular basis. 

Referring to the information in this interview, clearly, BDSM and Fetish work is a "Flow State."

Mistress Vivian  

LewisHowes moderator

@MistressVivian  I love it Vivian, I'm can only imagine the type of flow you must get into!  Great stuff. 

Sasha Maxim
Sasha Maxim

Lewis, great episode. I put some of the tips into action and got immediate results on the tennis court. It's very powerful information when used correctly. A guy I lost to last time I bageled in the first set. 

The key to the flow was to be present and let go of trying hard. Actually there was no trying involved at all - a huge insight. By not trying hard I lost a sense of identity which in turn relieved me of projecting into the future. I let me body take over, serving bombs and teeing off on forehands. The body knows, but the head interferes.  

Thanks again for the episode.

Patti F
Patti F

I absolutely loved this! Had lots of insights. Great interview!


Amazing. This episode had me entranced. Ironically, I was in the state of flow just listening to this!


I wonder whether this flow is similar to the extremely aware, focused, and present state that Eckhart Tolle talks about in The Power of Now. Or maybe it is the single moment set bliss one gets eating that first piece  of the best cake or having the first kiss with a person you love. Is it a type of rapture, presence, or bliss?

If not, then there are at least two different states people are looking for. You have the in the moment bliss that Jason Silva talks about in his Youtube videos like Awe, and this intense focus (the flow) that is probably most easily achieved from taking Modafinil, or being put into a type of trance through meditation or induction like Milton Erickson talked about.


Great Interview, Lewis!  I feel bad I haven't commented in a while, but I'm listening on Stitcher regularly, and am always encouraged by your passion & the topics of your show. This one, in particular, really resonated with me.

I'll have to listen to this one more time as well. Because getting "in the flow", and operating at more than 5% in that peak state is what I'm after. And with it, I know I can help more people. #SharingThisOne! 



pretty interesting you know. so the bottom line is to try to always do something new. dont let your brain and body fall into this routine


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