The Art of Impossible

Steven Kotler

#books #manual

Highlights from July 26, 2021

  • But there’s also a lowercase i impossible, The same rules apply, as this is still the stuff beyond our capabilities and our imagination, just on a different scale. Lowercase i impossibles are those things that we believe are impossible for us. They’re the feats that no one, including ourselves, at least for a while, ever imagined we’d be capable of accomplishing. (Page 2)
  • What’s the biological formula for the impossible? The answer is flow. Flow is defined as “an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” (Page 10)
  • dopamine is a powerful focusing drug. (Page 31)
  • dopamine tunes signal-to-noise ratios in the brain, which means the neurochemical increases signal, decreases noise, and, as a result, helps us detect more patterns. (Page 31)
  • dopamine is one of those aforementioned reward chemicals, a feel-good drug produced by the brain to drive behavior. Dopamine feels really good. (Page 31)
  • dopamine, like all neurochemicals, amplifies memory. (Page 32)
  • As social creatures, humans have an innate desire for connection and caring. We want to be connected to other people and we want to care for other people. At a basic biological level, we need to relate to others to survive and thrive; and, as a result, are neurochemically motivated to fulfill this need. (Page 36)
  • In doing this, purpose guards against obsessive self-rumination, which is one of the 18 root causes of anxiety and depression. By forcing you to look outside yourself, purpose acts as a force field. (Page 37)
  • Autonomy is the desire for the freedom required to pursue your passion and purpose. It’s the need to steer your own ship. Mastery is the next step. It drives you toward expertise; it pushes you to hone the skills you need to achieve your passion and purpose. (Page 41)
  • If you’ve been seduced, coerced, or otherwise pressured into doing somethingthat’s controlled motivation. It’s a job you have to do. Autonomous motivation is the opposite. It means you’re doing what you’re doing by choice. (Page 43)
  • we’re tapping autonomy correctly when we’re doing what we’re doing because of “interest and enjoyment” and because “it aligns with our core beliefs and values.” (Page 43)
  • Over 50 percent of Google’s largest revenue-generating products have come out of 20 percent time, including AdSense, Gmail, Google Maps, Google News, Google Earth, and Gmail Labs. (Page 44)
  • Patagonia allows employees to make their own schedules. They still have to work full-time, they just get to decide when to work. (Page 46)
  • Exercise is a nonnegotiable for peak performance. (Page 47)
  • To get the boost in drive that autonomy provides, you need the freedom to control your sleep, work, and exercise schedule. (Page 47)
  • Mastery is the desire to get better at the things we do. It’s devotion to craft, the need for progress, the urge to continually improve. (Page 48)
  • To date, researchers have iden17 tified twenty-two different flow triggers. (Page 49)
  • Simple as the idea of goal setting might seem, there’s trouble in the particulars. What the research shows is that not every goal is the same, nor is every goal appropriate for every situation and-most important-the wrong goal in the wrong situation can seriously hinder performance and actually lower productivity and motivation. (Page 56)
  • Latham and Locke found that setting goals increased performance and productivity 11 to 25 percent. (Page 57)
  • Every second, millions of bits of information flood into our senses. Yet the human brain can only handle about 7 bits of information at once, and the shortest time it takes to discriminate one set of bits from, another is one-eighteenth of a second. “By using these figures,” as Csikszentmihalyi explained in Flow, “one concludes that it is possible to process at most 126 bits of information per second.” To understand what another person is saying takes about 40 bits. (Page 58)
  • Big goals work best when there’s an alignment between an individual’s values and the desired outcome of the goal. (Page 60)
  • Clear goals is where goal setting gets even trickier. Turns out, there are significant differences between high, hard goals and clear goals, which are all the daily sub-steps required to accomplish those high, hard goals. It comes down to timescale. High, hard goals are our longer missions, the ones that can take years to achieve. They’re the big steps toward our big dreams. I want to write a book or become a doctor or start a company-these are all high, hard goals. Clear goals are the inverse. They’re all the tiny, daily steps it takes to accomplish that mission. (Page 61)
  • clear goals are an important flow trigger (Page 62)
  • Taken together, what all this means is that proper goal setting requires three sets of goals; massively transformative, high and hard, and clear-for three different timescales. MTPS last a lifetime; high, hard goals can take years; clear goals are accomplished one minute at a time. (Page 63)
  • Peak performers must learn to tolerate enormous amounts of anxiety and overwhelm, which is what pas sion feels like much of the time. (Page 74)
  • The ecstasy of flow redeems the agony of passion (Page 74)
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  • If vou’re interested in being your best, your inner monologue needs upport the best you want to be. High performance is 90 percent mental. (Page 75)
  • A great many peak performers eventually come to a very uncomfortable realization: they’re doing exactly what they love, yet completely hating their life. (Page 77)
  • “the positivity ratio.” it takes three positive thoughts to counter a single negative thought. (Page 78)
  • Our senses gather 11 million bits of information every second. (Page 78)
  • A daily gratitude practice alters the brain’s negativity bias. (Page 79)
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  • there also appears to be a strong link between gratitude and flow. (Page 80)
  • Burnout is identified by three symptoms: exhaustion, depression, and cynicism. (Page 94)
  • if you devote your life to accomplishing lowercase i impossibles, you can sometimes end up accomplishing a capital I impossible along the way.
  • Motivation is what gets you into this game; learning is what helps you continue to play; creativity is how you steer; and flow is how you turbo-boost the results beyond all rational standards and reasonable expectations.
  • “Impossible, as I’m using the word here, is a kind of extreme innovation. Those who tackle the impossible are not just innovating in matter but also in mind. As a category, impossible is all the stuff that has never been done before and, most believe, will never be done. These are the feats that exceed both our capabilities and our imagination. They lie beyond our wildest dreams in the most literal sense. Paradigm-shifting breakthroughs. Four-minute miles. Moonshots. Call this category capital I Impossible.” (The Art of Impossible)