The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler is a fascinating book full of both hyperbole and possibility. I do not think it lives up to the title however I feel that it opened my mind to some wonderful ideas that are already being implemented in CrossFit and can be refined further with better knowledge of the flow state.
According to the author Flow exists as a very real state of consciousness where time slows down (time dilation) our brainwaves change from beta to theta and we release hormones like dopamine. It is a state where we accelerate our performance in a non-linear manner and make tremendous gains. It is where creativity emerges and where people become, in the author’s words, superhuman.
Apparently, the phenomenon has been studied in office workers to jazz musicians but is most highly developed in extreme sports enthusiasts. He claims that their physical accomplishments and rapid development are attributed to Flow and but for this state their accomplishments would not have come to pass.
The most intriguing part of the book is the idea of flow triggering and flow hacking. Can we summon this flow state at will? That is the important question and his best solution seems to be jumping off buildings but does concede that there are some less extreme ways to enter the state.
The things you need to create a flow state are focus, instant feedback, risk and community. I was not shocked to find that these are things that we have in CrossFit. It is yet another example of an extreme situation that pushes people into a flow state where they make tremendous gains in short amounts of time.