Have you ever dreamed of doing the impossible? Maybe it was a goal you doubted you could achieve or a dream that felt out of reach. Maybe it was a change you wished to see in the world, but doubted would come to pass. Maybe you wrote off these thoughts as a far-fetched fantasy, thinking to yourself, this is impossible.

But what if I told you that you could do the impossible? In The Art of Impossible, eight-time bestselling author Steven Kotler argues just that. Even more astonishing, he reveals exactly how to do it. The two-time Pulitzer nominee describes his latest book as the first scientifically-backed “how to” manual for accomplishing your dreams, no matter how big. 

Over 20 years, Kotler has studied elite athletes, artists, CEOs, scientists, and more to reveal their secrets to success and what allowed them to accomplish feats never been done before. He combines this research with neuroscience to provide a roadmap for not just reaching your greatest potential, but growing past it again and again. 

Grab your copy of The Art of Impossible today!

You don’t have to be a CEO to learn something from Kotler’s work. This book is for anyone seeking to reach their peak performance, from parents to creatives, to the average person just trying to do their best in whatever htey do. It’s interesting to think how our lives could change if our dreams could be made possible, and they can be, you need only learn how. So, Planet Home sat down (on Zoom) with Steven Kotler to discuss The Art of Impossible

What does it take to do the impossible?

The book breaks down the different ingredients required to help you reach your peak performance. This suite of skills includes motivation, learning, grit, creativity, innovation, and flow. 

“Motivation is what gets you into the game. Learning and accelerated learning skills allow you to continue to play, so does grit,” Kotler said, “Creativity and innovation skills are how you steer, and “flow” is how you turbo-boost all of that to incredible heights.”

Whether you’re a pro athlete trying to break records or a student adjusting to online learning due to COVID-19, skills like motivation, learning, and creativity are helpful tools for anyone. When you’re reaching for a goal or facing a challenge, these tools need to be sharp.

Motivation, passion, and purpose

There are a number of global challenges before us that feel impossible to overcome, like environmental issues, world hunger, and, most pressingly as of this moment, a pandemic. With such daunting tasks at hand, it can be easy to lose motivation or not have it to begin with. But getting motivated, according to Steven Kotler, begins with getting curious. 

“It all starts with curiosity. Curiosity is the foundational internal motivator,” he said. “If you’re looking for passion, as many people are, passion is nothing more than the intersection of multiple curiosities.”

The more you immerse yourself in your curiosities, you start to cultivate a passion, which then becomes your purpose. For example, I myself have always been curious about is the ocean. I spent much of my time by the ocean whilst growing up on an island, and I wanted to know everything about the secrets that lay beneath its surface. 

My curiosity about the ocean intersected with a curiosity about how we could solve the issues that face it, like pollution, coral bleaching, and endangered marine wildlife. This turned into a passion for doing my part in protecting our oceans. Even though these challenges aren’t something I can solve alone, my passion connected me with a community of people here at Planet Home who have a shared sense of purpose.

Steven Kotler speaking at Planet Home 2019

Grit: Staying the course

So, how do we go about solving such large scale challenges that face not only our oceans, but our planet? When the end goal is so far out of reach 

It’s all about training long term resilience. 

“The thing about training grit is, it’s not enough just to push hard,” Kotler said, “You have to push hard enough days in a row that your brain notices that, ‘Hey, whenever I encounter this level of resistance, I actually have something left in the tank. I can push harder.’”

Think about exercise as an example. Say you want to run a marathon one day. You wouldn’t train by running 20 miles your first day. Maybe you’d start at 1 mile, push yourself to 5 miles, then to 10 miles, and so forth. Every step along the way, you’re training your brain and your body to recognize that you can keep pushing yourself further and further.

The power of perspective 

Skills like creativity, innovation, empathy and emotional intelligence are also important keys for success, according to Kotler. Each of these tap into one major ingredient common in impossible-doers, which is the power of embracing multiple perspectives.

“Empathy allows us, among other things, the ability to see things from multiple perspectives, which is phenomenal for creativity,” Kotler said, “It’s phenomenal for emotional intelligence as well.”

Looking at a problem from multiple perspectives creates a systems-thinking approach that is at the heart of The Art of Impossible.  Kotler explained systems-thinking through an example of his own passion for animals. He realized that if he wanted to better advocate for endangered animals, he needed to know more about their environments and how ecosystems function as a whole.

“That systems-thinking, which I have brought into peak performance with me, really helped me a lot because peak performance itself is a giant sort of system that produces behavior,” he said.

So when it comes to doing right by the planet, we have to take a systems approach that solves challenges from a variety of angles. Whether you’re ocean lover doing beach clean ups, an engineer inventing new technologies, an artist spreading the message, you have an important role to play. The hope for a better future for our planet is more than a wish, it’s a goal made possible if we work together. Even though we might not solve all the planet’s challenges tomorrow, there will be wins big and small along the way that are enough to keep us going.

As Steven Kotler put it, “Motivation comes from little win after little win after little win. You’ve just got to start.”

What impossible thing will you conquer, one little win at a time? 

Pick up your copy The Art of Impossible today.