“Books are where they keep the secrets:” Steven Kotler on Unmistakable Creative

Srini Rao recently re-posted his conversation with Steven Kotler, and there were enough reminders in there that I went back through and took some notes to keep my brain on task; maybe it will help you, as well.

Read a lot, and read everything. Read a variety of opinions, sure, but also read about subjects you don't think you're interested in. Just read. Be curious.
Books are where they keep the secrets. Before we had the internet, anyone who knew about things wrote books about it. A lot of people are still writing books.
Know your values. If you're not sure where to start, try "work hard" and "don't lie."
Be fascinated. Kotler says he was fascinated with people turning science fiction into science fact, and the parallel within the art world.
Be ferocious. Sure, you can be playful and have a good time, but be ferocious toward your goal.
Find your thing. You wake up in the morning, says Kotler, and you have to do this thing. Everything else is hogwash.
There are three fail points for creatives. The first is during the first few years, when you're just not making much money and the poverty is too much for you. The second is about 10 years in when you get a chance to play with the big boys, but you're not so well-known that you get to do your own thing — you have to play within their boxes. A third fail point is when creatives forget that their job is to please editors, not themselves. Your book has to be acceptable to the editor, not yourself.
Creative desperation will lead to a high-flow life. When you need to eat, you'll find your groove.
Flow triggers. In the presentation above, you'll see Kotler had, for his book The Rise of Superman, identified 17 flow triggers. For Stealing Fire, he and co-author Jamie Wheal identified several more. None of the flow triggers is particularly difficult. Among common flow triggers:
      — Flow follows focus, so get focused on your task.
      — Intentional practice.
      — Passion and purpose.
      — Risk (doesn't have to be physical).
      — Novelty and unpredictability.
      — Clear goals; understand the next steps.
      — Be able to shut out the rest of the world for a period of focused work.
      — Stretch your comfort level by four percent.
Tools. Don't be afraid to use some tools. They mention a few.
      — Meditation
      — Exercise
      — Focus@Will
      — Electronic music

Other posts about Kotler:

Lessons in exponential growth from Bold by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Crazy, coffee and conundrums: Lessons from Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
As the brain spins: It takes incremental growth to build toward monumental growth
Kotler on Joe Rogan's podcast

JRE #873 - Steven Kotler from JoeRogan on Vimeo.