The secret to performance. There is no magic pill.

Words: James Shaw


When we read Stealing Fire our minds were that people are getting the wrong end of the stick with flow and like the human optimisation and hacking culture, getting increasingly lost in the obsessive drive for finding flow and optimising.

What Chris and I understood by the conversation was that flow states happen when you are doing what you are really in to be that reading a book or climbing a rock or on a snowboard etc. The acid and Burning Man combo is luxury partying and misses the process of achieving flow which is ‘daily’ (regular) practice of your pursuit that over time you become more attuned with it and develop the skills to be in a position where the you can operate at the higher levels of your ability without conscious thought because the mind and body take over.

Chris asked him what his practices were and whilst he has done pretty much all if not more than he talks about, the way he and his wife and family live is pretty ordinary, they love the outdoors and action sports and you can tell he likes to push himself.

That was the most insightful comment as to what to do. He has tried it all but comes back to the ordinary mountains, music, marriage (and mushrooms -if you want).

We have heard the “die as often as you can” quote a few times from other sources, and I can only like it to my experiences in climbing that when I think I am ready for the next level I experience this sensation that I am out of my depth and return back to training with a different perspective to before in order to develop the necessary skills to progress.

The take away I left with has been to have the discipline to work towards whatever goals I have every day and not go for the fireworks on a daily basis, they happen when everything is just right. All the psychedelics in the world can take the mind and perhaps body to extreme places but this is not the way to move forward however fun they appear to be at the time.

At the time I was wanting him to say, you take this and from that point on you are optimised for a life of flow and in actual fact it is something much less glamorous and exciting. There is no magic pill to ‘becoming’. Do the practice daily and you will experience at times everything coming together, and the more you practice the luckier you get.