Book review of The Rise of Superman

The Rise of Superman

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The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
By Jonathan Roseland

I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinkingYou should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health. Affiliate links in this article support Limitless Mindset - spend over $150 and you'll be eligible to join the Limitless Mindset Secret Society.

Book Review: If we can harness the power of flow...

I picked up The Rise of Superman because I would like to spend more time in flow states. I believe in hustling hard and hustling smart but I don't actually spend that much time in flowFlow states result from evolutionary psychology that drastically increases awareness of the world around us.

The book illustrates flow state science by telling stories of superhuman feats accomplished by action and adventure athletes in flow. for these kinds of athletes reaching flow states is literally a matter of life and death, so they make great case studies of something that for everyone else is kind of nebulous. However, sometimes it's difficult to visualize a complex skateboarding trick if you are not a skater. It would have been neat if the Kindle version of the book linked to YouTube videos.

Check out the documentary Supervention, to get an idea of the soaring heights of daring reached by these athletes...

It would have been interesting to see the book say more about addicts and flow states. As flow states naturally recreate the cocktail of neurotransmitters that addicts chase. You always hear that addicts need to replace one addiction with another, it would be fascinating to see some research done on training addicts to enter flow states.

I've said before that...

I think that the human capacity for invention, creativity, collaboration, and generosity multiplied by the steep growth curves in technology have a real chance in the next 50 years of eradicating: poverty, war, hunger, disease, environmental issues, lack of education - even aging and death.

If we can harness the power of flow, 50 years from now we will be able to look at the world and see these demons vanquished from the world.

I created a cool 2-minute warp-speed reading of notable passages of the book...

About the book

Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance

Building a bridge between the extreme and the mainstream, The Rise of Superman explains how these athletes are using flow to do the impossible and how we can use this information to radically accelerate performance in our own lives. Flow states are a result of evolutionary psychology that drastically increases awareness of the world around us.

The Rise of Superman
Prefer to listen? Get it as an audiobook

The book does a great job of illustrating flow state science by telling stories of superhuman feats accomplished by action and adventure athletes in flow. For these kinds of athletes reaching flow states is literally a matter of life and death, so they make great case studies of something that for everyone else is kind of wu-wu.

4 stars

Check out my review of Steven Kotler's Stealing Fire, the follow-up to this, where I make the case that flow state may save us from ourselves…

Stealing Fire
Category: Book

Notable passages from The Rise of Superman

 In flow, we are so focused on the task at hand that everything else falls away. Action and awareness merge . Time flies. Self vanishes. Performance goes through the roof.(p. viii).

Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, a peak state where we both feel our best and perform our best. (p. viii).

The great civil rights leader Howard Thurman once said, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs most is more people who have come alive." (p. x).

"Most people live in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger." (p. 11).

It was clear from talking to them, that what kept them motivated was the quality of the experience they felt when they were involved with the activity. The feeling didn't come when they were relaxing, when they were taking drugs or alcohol, or when they were consuming the expensive privileges of wealth. Rather, it often involved painful, risky, difficult activities that stretched the person's capacity and involved an element of novelty and discovery. (p. 20).

"Imagination," says futurist and philosopher Jason Silva, "allows us to conceive of delightful future possibilities, pick the most amazing one, and pull the present forward to meet it." (p. 26).

In fact, when Csikszentmihalyi dove deeper into the data, he discovered that the happiest people on earth, the ones who felt their lives had the most meaning, were those who had the most peak experiences. (p. 20).

Applying this idea in our daily life means breaking tasks into bite-size chunks and setting goals accordingly. A writer, for example, is better off trying to pen three great paragraphs at a time— the equivalent of moving through Mandy -Rae's kick cycles—rather than attempting one great chapter . Think challenging , yet manageable— just enough stimulation to shortcut attention into the now, not enough stress to pull you back out again. (p. 115).

The next stage in the cycle is "release." To move out of struggle and into flow , you must first pass through this second stage. Release means to take your mind off the problem, to, as Benson says, "completely sever prior thought and emotional patterns." (p. 120).

And the zone, the flow state itself, is the third stage in this cycle. Struggle gives way to release gives way to flow—hallelujah. (p. 121).

Companionship drives focus into the now— it's arguably the simplest flow hack in the world. (p. 130).

The lone -wolf maverick is a myth. When it comes to becoming Superman, we really are in this together. (p. 139).

Flow, like all technologies, remains morally neutral. (p. 164).

Flow is a creation engine: it helps us pluck an idea out of imagination and bring it fully formed into the world. (p. 173).

Since the first stage of the flow cycle— the struggle stage— involves exactly this learning process, visualization is an essential flow hack: it shortens struggle. (p. 176).

The US military trained snipers in flow twice as fast as normal. McKinsey established that executives in flow are five times more effective than their steady-state peers. (p. 193).

We must learn how to play with fire. We must learn to learn faster. We must learn to live thousands of lives in our lifetime— and not lives of quiet desperation, rather of raucous innovation (p. 193).


Review Title
The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler [Book Review]
Media Type
  • Book
  • eBook (Kindle/ePub/PDF)
  • Audio Program
Author or Creator
Steven Kotler (Author)


The Rise of Superman - available as an audiobook


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The Rise of Superman Official Trailer
"If we can harness the power of flow..." ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Book Review of "Rise of Superman" by Steven Kotler

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