A reading club with a view to the future

397 Steven Kotler: The Art of Impossible

Unleashing human potential by understanding the science and strategies behind achieving peak performance.



"The Art of Impossible" explores the science of peak performance and provides practical tools and strategies to help individuals unlock their full potential. Steven Kotler delves into the psychology, neurobiology, and physiology behind human achievement, presenting a roadmap to overcome limitations and push boundaries. By harnessing the power of flow states, motivation, and grit, readers can transform their lives and accomplish the seemingly impossible.


Book Title: "The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer"

Author: Steven Kotler

Publishing Year: 2021

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Length in Hours: 9 hours and 17 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The importance of flow states in optimizing performance and enhancing creativity.
  2. The role of motivation and intrinsic drives in pushing through obstacles and achieving goals.
  3. The science of grit and resilience and how to cultivate these qualities.
  4. The impact of stress and recovery on performance and how to manage them effectively.
  5. Strategies for setting goals, designing routines, and creating optimal environments to support peak performance.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Trying to be the best version of yourself is like trying to make a soufflé—it's a delicate process, but worth the effort."
  2. "Sometimes, all you need to reach your peak performance is a good playlist and a cup of coffee."
  3. "If peak performance were a superpower, it would definitely involve a cape and a catchy theme song."
  4. "Remember, even Batman had a sidekick. Don't be afraid to ask for help on your quest for greatness."
  5. "Peak performance is like riding a unicorn—it might sound mythical, but with the right techniques, it can be real."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "To accomplish the impossible, we must first believe it's possible."
  2. "Flow is the state of optimal consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best."
  3. "Motivation is like a muscle. It can be trained, it can fatigue, and it can be improved."
  4. "The only thing standing between you and your impossible goal is the story you keep telling yourself."
  5. "Resilience is not about bouncing back; it's about bouncing forward."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the pursuit of individual peak performance with the need for collaboration and teamwork.
  2. Deciding between pushing one's limits and avoiding burnout by finding the right balance of challenge and rest.
  3. Choosing between immediate gratification and delayed gratification to achieve long-term goals.
  4. Navigating the tension between risk-taking and risk aversion in the pursuit of success.
  5. Managing the dilemma of adapting to changing circumstances while staying committed to long-term objectives.

5 examples

  1. Google implemented flow-based work environments, allowing employees to immerse themselves fully in tasks and enhance creativity.
  2. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps utilized visualization techniques to mentally rehearse his races and optimize performance.
  3. Elon Musk's relentless pursuit of ambitious goals showcases the power of grit and determination in achieving extraordinary feats.
  4. The U.S. Navy SEALs employ specific mental training techniques to enhance focus, resilience, and performance under extreme conditions.
  5. Maya Angelou's dedication to her craft and unwavering discipline exemplify the principles of peak performance in the world of literature.

Referenced books

  1. "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  2. "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" by Angela Duckworth
  3. "The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How." by Daniel Coyle
  4. "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck
  5. "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business" by Charles Duhigg

Share a quote

"Trying to be the best version of yourself is like trying to make a soufflé—it's a delicate process, but worth the effort."

Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.