#588 Flow Junkies

How to Attain Superyou Mastery Sans Misery

In our last +1, we made our plans to enjoy doing the impossible together over breakfast in the not-too-distant future after following a nice little aggregation and compounding of a bunch of little +4% gains.

Today we’re going to talk about the fact that, as Steven says, we can achieve that mastery “sans the misery”!!

He walks us through the traditional models of attaining Mastery. He calls them the 3 M’s. Then he proposes his alternative and suggests we become “flow junkies” who use our love for what we do as fuel for our long-term achievements—enjoying the Present while creating an even more awesome Future!

Let’s take a quick look at the traditional paths to Mastery then we’ll have fun with a Heroic approach.

First, our 3 M’s of Mastery. Steven tells us that we have Mothers and Musicians and Marshmallows.

Mothers: This approach basically says it’s all about having a nurturing environment.

Musicians: This approach basically says that we need to be like Anders Ericsson’s violinists and log in 10,000 hours of grueling deliberate practice before we can have a shot at the greatness Peak.

Marshmallows: This approach basically says you better learn how to delay your gratification if you want to be great. Aka don’t enjoy eating that marshmallow now! Wait to enjoy two in the future.

Kotler tells us that extreme sport athletes take an alternative path to their Superhuman abilities—FLOW.

He tells us that a lot of these athletes came from broken families (sorry, Mothers), didn’t have
the “deliberate, well-structured practice” at the heart of the 10,000 hour hypothesis (sorry, Musicians) and were the kind of impulsive kids who DEFINITELY would have snatched the one marshmallow rather than wait for two (sorry, Marshmallow).

What they did have was an absolute LOVE of what they did and the feeling they got when they entered flow. So, that’s the first half of his alternative theory for superman awesomeness. Now for the second.

Kotler tells us that there are Presents and there are Futures.

Presents are the people who WANT.IT.ALL.NOW! They’re the ones who snatch the one marshmallow for immediate gratification. They tend to be impulsive and they have a tough time with long-range planning, etc.

Futures, on the other hand, are the people who are able to delay gratification. They can make long-range plans and commit to mastery but because they’re so future-oriented they tend to burn themselves out by not enjoying the process.

Enter the power of Flow to help BOTH of those orientations. Kotler tells us: “After three decades of research, Zimbardo found that the healthiest, happiest, highest performers blend the best of both worlds. The optimal time perspective combines the energy, joy, and openness of Presents, with the strength, fortitude, and long-term vision of the Futures.”

Note: Seneca said the same thing a couple thousand years ago: “How much better to pursue a straight course and eventually reach that destination where the things that are pleasant and the things that are honorable finally become, for you, the same.”

In other words, how AWESOME is it when what you MOST love to do is what is the best for you?!

Answer: Very awesome.

Kotler features an extraordinary athlete named Shane McKonkey—one of the best extreme sports athletes ever. Here’s how he brings the wisdom home: “But once the sensation seekers jump on the flow path, they don’t need to delay gratification to achieve success—gratification becomes their path to success. ‘I’m doing what I love,’ explains McKonkey. ‘And if you’re doing what you want to do all the time, then you’re happy. You’re not going to work everyday wishing you were doing something else. I get up and go to work everyday and I’m stoked. That does not suck.”


Sounds like our whole chat about dissolving the (apparent) dichotomy between “work” and “play” we recently talked about.

Recall the wisdom from writer James Michener who told us: “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”

That’s Mastery sans misery.

And that’s Today’s +1.

How can you bring some more joy to your life?

May the love for your life and all that you do be the wind beneath your wings as you rise into the next-best Superversion of You.

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