Reviews for Rise of Superman : Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance

Kirkus Reviews 2014 February #1
Every kind of human performance—a record-breaking athletic feat, a major scientific breakthrough, a stunning jazz solo—is made possible by tapping into an elusive and extraordinary state of consciousness called "flow." In action and adventure sports, in particular, athletes can be described as "flow junkies." These men and women surf waves as tall as skyscrapers, climb sheer rock faces without equipment and parachute onto remote mountainsides for the thrill of skiing where no one has been before. All these pursuits are as dangerous as they are electrifying, and all of these athletes say that they rely on the "flow state" to succeed—even that, incredibly, the flow state itself may be the ultimate goal. Flow Genome Project co-founder Kotler (A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life, 2010, etc.) argues that flow is more than just the key to death-defying performance; it's also the secret to everyday happiness and fulfillment—and that mastering the state of flow is within reach for anyone. However, top action and adventure athletes may be the singular connoisseurs of the flow state: They have acknowledged the powerful effects of flow for years, and cultivating a flow state is a significant piece of their training. Kotler spent more than a decade interviewing and reporting on these athletes, analyzing their behaviors and motivations, as well as investigating how cutting-edge technologies enable a neurological breakdown of the flow state. The author describes a state where the fear of death disappears, blurring the line between possible and impossible. If a mastery of flow can be accomplished without an environment of extreme physical risk, a paradigm shift of enormous consequence may occur—even, as one high-performance athlete suggests, "the next stage in human evolution." A thrill ride of a book, empowering in its implications of what any individual can achieve. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.