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Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work Paperback – May 8, 2018
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“A mind-blowing tour along the path from sex and drugs to R&D.” (Financial Times)
“Stealing Fire is a beautifully written, must-read for anyone interested in living up to their full potential. Kotler and Wheal have produced a user-manual for your hacking your brain to drive high performance.” (Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize, co-chairman of Singularity University, bestselling author)
“Stealing Fire cracks the secret code of peak performance so that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results.” (Cdr. Mark Divine (USN Ret.), New York Times best selling author, founder SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind)
“Meticulously researched and innovatively conceptualized, Stealing Fire is not just a bible for the second psychedelic revolution (drugs not required), but a manual to getting more: out of your body, your mind, and your happiness.” (Neil Strauss, New York Times best-selling author of The Game)
“An electrifying, fast-paced journey into the deep potential of the human brain.” (David Eagleman, Stanford University neuroscientist, bestselling author, presenter of PBS's The Brain)
“Our linear lives and brains need to be thrown a curve on occasion and this is a masterpiece literary curveball.” (Chip Conley, bestselling author of Peak and Emotional Equations and former Head of Strategy for AirBnB)
“Captures the unspoken essence of what men and women on the frontier of human experience, think and do to excel in creativity and performance.” (Michael Gervais, High Performance Psychologist to Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks)
“Stealing Fire lays out exactly how to hack the brain...Kotler and Wheal have taken a major bite out of the unknown. If you’re at all interested in knowing how your mind works, this is imperative reading!” (Salim Ismail, founding executive director of Singularity University and bestselling author of Exponential Organizations)
“Stealing Fire is a fantastic book about the future of humanity and everything that we can become. Based on incredible stories and cutting edge data, it reveals how our brain and body can be optimized to its greatest potential.” (Andrew Newberg, MD., director of research Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine and author of How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain)
From the Inside Flap
It's the biggest revolution you've never heard of, and it's hiding in plain sight. Over the past decade, Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk, special operators like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, and maverick scientists like Sasha Shulgin and Amy Cuddy have turned everything we thought we knew about high performance upside down. Instead of grit, better habits, or 10,000 hours, these trailblazers have found a surprising shortcut. They're harnessing rare and controversial states of consciousness to solve critical challenges and outperform the competition.
New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler and high-performance expert Jamie Wheal spent four years investigating the leading edges of this revolution--from the home of SEAL Team Six to the Googleplex, the Burning Man festival, Richard Branson's Necker Island, Red Bull's training center, Nike's innovation team, and the United Nations headquarters. And what they learned was stunning: In their own ways, with differing languages, techniques, and applications, every one of these groups has been quietly seeking the same thing: the boost in information and inspiration that altered states provide.
Today, this revolution is spreading to the mainstream, fueling a trillion-dollar underground economy and forcing us to rethink how we can all lead richer, more productive, more satisfying lives. Driven by four accelerating forces--psychology, neurobiology, technology, and pharmacology--we are gaining access to and insights about some of the most contested and misunderstood terrain in history. Stealing Fire is a provocative examination of what's actually possible; a guidebook for anyone who wants to radically upgrade their life.--David Eagleman, Stanford University neuroscientist, bestselling author, presenter of PBS's The Brain
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This book is shallow and the only interesting "facts" introduced are, in fact, not facts. I happen to be a member of one of the small "flow-hacking" groups detailed in this book and, while he describes our facilities accurately enough, the claims he makes about language learning rates etc are entirely false.
Don't read this. It's the book equivalent of a "peep" candy. Seems like it would be sweet, but then it dissolves without having given you an ounce of nutrition.
This book was written in order to foster TED Talk invites, podcast interviews, and social media buzz. It's purely sensational and offers you, literally, nothing.
"Hey Pyros and Stealing Fire fans!
Since launching Stealing Fire last February, we’ve gotten hundreds of questions on the “how-to” fine-tuned, step-by-step guidelines to the topics we wrote about in the book.
Many of you have written in asking...
So now that I’m all fired up about this revolution in altered states, where in the hell is the How To Manual???
Well, we’ve written the manual and been testing it for the last five years. We just couldn’t put it in the book.
And we’ve turned it into our newest digital training–Flow Performance: The Secrets of Stealing Fire."
What follows is a pitch to sign up for their expensive training. This isn't a book it's an ad you pay for.
- what if I told you there are famous people pushing the limits of the mind
- these people take drugs
- these people go to Burning Man
- these people have surprising connections
- sometimes these people wear "bio hacking" devices that you don't have enough money to buy
Many of the things they talk about are not on the market or not easily accessible to most of us (flow dojo, illicit drugs, TMS, virtual reality). Some of the methods they mention felt commercial, and it’s no coincidence that some names mentioned in the book are involved in the for-profit Flow Genome project the authors have founded. So in some ways, this book is a 300 page commercial for Flow Genome. But it’s a fun commercial so I can forgive. I was concerned about the factual nature of some of their anecdotes and evidence. They included a caveat in the back of the book which most people will not read. But readers should know that many facts in the book are controversial. Not all experts agree. Most notable is the controversy over fMRI which much of the neuroscience in this book is based upon.
I’m having a hard time choosing one snippet from the book because I highlighted hundreds – the book was that interesting. So I’ll include one that attempts to summarize what the book is about.
“…harnessing altered states toward practical ends would have seemed crazy. But we now know they can heal trauma, amplify creativity and accelerate personal development.”
What did I learn? The best part of Stealing Fire was the constant pings of dopamine my brain received every time I learned a new and interesting fact. I can’t pick a favorite chapter because the book was filled with revelations that I found valuable.
Who would like this book? Anybody who is interested in neuroscience, popular culture or altered states of consciousness. Or anybody who wants a fun read through nonfiction because Kotler & Wheal are an enjoyable read
Top international reviews
West of Jesus follows the authors quest to try and discover what it would take to achieve a flow state as he had once achieved whilst surfing. It was at a more personal and accessible level and was an enjoyable read. The rise of superman explored the theme but focused on extreme sportsman who routinely enter flow states through performing at the edge of human ability and although this was interesting it started to depart from what most people would do to achieve a flow state and this current book seems to have gone down a rabbit hole of enquiry useless to most folk.
Well researched, lots of detail but totally useless to me and I was not hooked at all and had to plough through it to get to the end.
I am a huge fan of Steve Kotler. His book “The rise of superman” is a must read for anyone interested in flow, productivity, performance and human resource management. It was the first time I heard about the pursuit of companies to achieve group flow.
Conscious processing can only handle about 12033 bits of information at once. However, unconscious processing (= flow) can handle billions of bits at once. The result is 200 percent boost in creativity, a 490 percent boost in learning, a 500 percent boost in productivity.
Consciousness goes straight to the bottom line. Which is why 44 percent of all U.S. companies are offering mindfulness training to employees. Saving $2,000 per employee in health-care costs, and gaining $3,000 per employee in productivity. Yoga is now more popular than football. There is an exponential growth in the neurotech industry.
Yep, looking to create group genius or a hive mind. Where groups of people synchronise their heart rates and brain waves and drive them into group flow. Merging selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and richness. Looking for the elusive “hive-switch”.
The deep now (without time in the picture, we have all the time in the world), where our inner voice is quiet and where our amygdala shuts down (no fight or flight). Processing rich, deep data. An integrated, whole-system experience. The body, the gut, the senses, the immune system, the lymphatic system and the brain in complete sync.
It is amazing what Navy SEALS, Google, Red Bull are doing. Setting up flow-dojos. Applying techniques from psychology, neurobiology, pharmacology and technology. Combining IOT, AI, VR, sports technology and LSD.
You are what you think
Your body and mind are one
How we move our body affect our brain and mind
Transformational leaders not only regulated their own nervous systems better than most; they also regulated other people’s.
The stomach and intestines complete this network, containing more than 500 million nerve cells, 100 million neutrons, 30 different neurotransmitters, and 90 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin.
The neurobiology of emotion shows that our nonverbal cues—our tics, twitches, and tone—reveal much more about our inner experience than words typically do. Our biometrics gives us more accurate insight than our own self-reporting.
Remember the movie “The Mansourian Candidate”? It has been done with an audience by researchers using bio- feedback.
A collection of the world’s biggest brands—Apple, Coca-Cola, American Express, Nike, Samsung, Sony, and Ford put up $7 million to fund a study into the neuroscience of buying behaviour.
Soon VR systems are going to track everything from eye gaze to vocal tone to neurochemistry, hormones, brainwaves, and cardiac coherence. If a smartphone is a surveillance device we voluntarily carry in our pocket, then VR will be a total surveillance state we voluntarily enter.
Mental arms race
As I said in my review of “The science of selling”, I am expecting and predicting an arms race between mindfulness and manipulation.