1: If we are hunting high achievement (and we are), “motivation is what gets you into the game, but learning is what keeps you there,” Steven Kotler writes in The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer.

Steven cites psychologist Gary Klein’s classic book on decision-making, Sources of Power, which identifies eight specific types of knowledge “that are visible to experts yet invisible to everyone else.”

o Patterns that novices don’t notice.

o Anomalies or events that didn’t happen or events that violate expectations.

o The big picture.

o The way things work.

o Opportunities and improvisations.

o Events that already happened (the past) or will happen (the future)

o Differences that are too small for novices to detect

o Their own limitations

If we do not possess the knowledge on Gary’s list, “the impossible remains impossible,” Steven writes, because these items “are literally the ingredients of impossible. They are the requisite knowledge base.”

The only challenge?

“Developing this base requires learning,” Steven writes. “A ton of learning.”

2: The technical term for this type of knowledge is “lifelong learning.”

“Lifelong learning keeps the brain sharp, both preventing cognitive decline and training up memory,” Steven writes. “It also boosts confidence, communication skills, and career opportunities. These improvements are the reasons psychologists consider lifelong learning foundational to satisfaction and well-being.”

3: This type of learning also is an essential trigger to accessing the “flow state” or “being in the zone.”

A critical component of being in flow is staying in the “challenge-skills sweet spot.” When we practice, we want the task at hand to exceed our skill set just slightly. We want to bend but not break.

“We need to be constantly stretching ourselves to the edge of our abilities,” he writes. “This means we are constantly learning and improving and, as a result, constantly increasing the size of the next challenge.”

We must constantly acquire more skills and knowledge to take on these more considerable challenges.

“Lifelong learning is how we can keep pace with the moving target that is the challenge-skills sweet spot,” Steven notes. “It’s the bedrock foundation of a high-flow lifestyle.”

More tomorrow.


Reflection: What is an area of my life where I committed to stretching myself to the edge of my abilities? What is my plan to continue to learn, stretch, and grow?

Action: Discuss with a friend or colleague.

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