Whether you are an executive at a Fortune 100 company or an entrepreneur just starting your business, your core questions likely center around growth potential: for yourself as an individual and for the organization to which you are accountable. At the very heart of that question lies a question about your purpose and how ultimately to achieve your desired success. Our ability to hold a strong sense of confidence and enjoyment in what we do in the world, not just at work, directly correlates with our ability to feel fully in "flow" with our identity and our core purpose is in life.
A Non-Traditional Route to Success
I've recently been recommending a book that dives into the concept of how people have accessed and live in this state of flow.
Stealing Fire, authored by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal, two experts in peak performance, specializing in the neuroscience and application of Flow states, sets itself apart from traditional business books primarily because Stealing Fire wasn't written as a business book. It sets out to explain a culture of innovation and creativity that is not content with the status quo, but whose participants live on the edge, at the forefront, of their desired professions.
The book portrays the different approaches highly successful thought leaders in business, professional athletics, the military, science and spirituality use to identify who they are at their truest core, thereby allowing themselves to be fully authentic, expressive and successful in what they do in the world. Kotler and Wheal refer to this state of feeling connected to ourselves and to those with whom we interact as "ecstasis." They coined this term to mean "a moment of stepping beyond oneself".
The professions discussed in Stealing Fire run the gamut. There are the Navy Seals, whose unique ability to think as a unit, allows them to flow seamlessly, anticipating and knowing the move of each team member, even in silence, especially in silence. The Silicon Valley executive or developer who so deeply embraces her or his vision and purpose that it is the guiding force through each and every decision. The "maverick scientist" who, through experimentation, has discovered methods of using brainwave augmentation to achieve his or her own place of ecstasis.
The authors take the reader through an imaginative and well-articulated process of how to create from a powerful place of vision and flow. Bucking the norms of business how-to manuals, Stealing Fire points to non-traditional methods of achieving this state, just one of which is how a meditation practice of even 20 minutes a day can transform our brainwaves and allow us to achieve the productivity we desire and an ability to step beyond ourselves.
Achieving Flow Requires an Open Mind
Because of its non-traditional approach to professional success, Stealing Fire has received some criticism for not providing a more precise roadmap or to-do list for its readers. Some have attempted to pigeonhole the book to promote one method of achieving ecstasis over another.
But this type of limited thinking is exactly what hinders a person's potential for the life and success portrayed in the book. There is no single preferred method to discover one's place of ecstasis, nor do the authors promote one over the other. The "how-to" program of Stealing Fire includes the modalities of meditation, yoga, team building, prolonged individual and group exercise to achieve ecstasis. The authors trace the search for this feeling back to the Ancient Greeks, pointing out that throughout history, those who called out such universal truths were often persecuted for going against the dogma of culture, religion, science and art. As Stealing Fire goes against traditional business convention, the authors themselves have faced occasional backlash from uncomfortable readers.
For entrepreneurs who need to stay grounded and accountable, while relying on bold vision to achieve their goals, Stealing Fire offers an eye and mind opening experience. For the seasoned business executive who has successfully created his or her corporation, organization or division, this book provides inspiration for bringing alternative ways of engagement to their teams.
If you have a strong desire to identify and fulfill your life's purpose, or are exploring the question with a coach or friend, you will relish Stealing Fire's insights on how to achieve ecstasis. This is a book to be read by dreamers and visionaries who are willing to take an unconventional journey that is well worth the trip.