In this monthly blog series, I review a sports audiobook from audible.co.uk
This month: 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 (Steven Kotler)
What a book! I absolutely loved The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. In fact, I’m going to order it in hard copy (something I rarely do these days) as I want to pore over it in more than one format.
What’s it about? Flow.
Have you ever pondered possibility? The limits of human performance? Do you believe there are limits (and, if so, do you think we’re anywhere close to reaching them)? What do you think separates those incredible individuals who perform extraordinary feats – apparently without having to think about it – and those who stumble, fumble and fall?
This is an audiobook about possibility.
If you’ve ever felt “in the groove” with a hobby, sport, activity – even reading, or a conversation – you’ll know what it feels like to be in a flow state.
This book – written by Steven Kotler who is Director of the “Flow Genome Project” – uses extreme sport athletes and their amazing feats to codify what exactly makes up ultimate, perfect, extraordinary human performance. Is it talent? Genetics? Education, learning, practice?
Yes, it’s all of those things. But it’s also the ability to go into – and go with – flow.
Kotler uses decades of research into surfing, snow boarding, skate boarding, sky diving, base jumping, and even “space jumping”, using the experiences and achievements of athletes such as Danny Way and Laird Hamilton to get to the bottom of “flow”.
Some of the athletes he talks about are no longer with us. In pioneering the flow state which we can now all so easily access (Kotler reveals how, towards the end of the book), these trailblazers pushed their bodies, minds and environments beyond anything anyone had previously dared.
So, what exactly is flow? You’ll have to listen to the book to find out (mainly because I can’t condense it into one blog post!) It’s a physical, emotional, psychological state which enables our minds and bodies to instantly click into perfect harmony, enabling us to perform more, better, higher, faster. It’s no surprise that Kotler has used extreme sport for flow research. Whilst flow has applications and benefits in all walks of life – from business to relationships – it quite obviously holds a seductive pull for athletes. Achieving the ultimate level of performance, knowing how to turn that state on, understanding how to access it and stay in it when it matters… it’s the stuff which continues to push athletic performance forward long after records have been broken and ceilings have been smashed.
Kotler presents flow as a frontier science, and the book is a fantastic blend of anecdote, hypotheses, research and science. Now, I’m not “sciency” at all, but found the language and delivery of this audiobook very accessible. It all made sense to me, I didn’t get left behind by the science, and the only reason I felt moved to rewind the audiobook and listen again was because I kept having “wow” moments.
Listen to this book, and explore all the online resources (see links at the end of this post). It is a fascinating look at how athletes have used flow state to achieve the seemingly-impossible… and then shows us how we can all tap into this to sky-rocket performance in our own lives. Not just in sport!
Let me know if you have a favourite sports book you’d like me to review, or if there’s a title in Audible’s library which you’ve had your eye on.
Audible.co.uk is the UK’s leading provider of new and classic audiobooks and has a range of autobiographies, investigative journalism and sports training titles.
The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance (Steven Kotler) is available only from audible.co.uk
Audible asked me to write the reviews and provided me with free credits for the purpose.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.