🌊 Part 1:
In my early 20s, I was obsessed with understanding peak performance. Why are we sometimes capable of incredible feats of creativity, insight, and performance and other times incapable of the simplest tasks?
I felt this was a key problem to solve if we were going to reach our potential as a species.
As a recovering addict, I also wanted a way to feel better about myself and start living up to my own potential. So I began designing my life to experience the optimal state of being - also known as Flow.
This manifested in strict morning routines, dynamic days, martial arts, basketball, rock climbing, time for creativity and play, and reflective evenings of journaling and meditation.
When all the pieces came together, I felt in control and powerful. But it was rare that everything would go according to plan or that my motivation would be there when I needed it. In those moments, I felt ashamed, foolish, and hopeless.
Still, the glimpses into this better version of myself inspired attempts to incorporate Flow into
🥷 Part 2:
As I was experimenting, I was also apprenticing for a Ninjitsu master.
The relationship began after we met outside of class to go skiing. I had been skiing my whole life but he was relatively new to it. It didn’t stop him from being the one to push me to do harder things.
Over the next couple years, he continued to push me. I have never been a huge risk taker but I wanted to learn and he wanted to teach. We were always going to new dangerous heights - literally. I was sure we were going to die when we bushwhacked/free climbed up the side of Vermont’s tallest mountain, and again when he taught me how to drive stick in his brand new WRX and then had me drive up New Hampshire’s tallest mountain.
After hearing his stories of racing on the back roads of Ireland, encountering barracudas while scuba diving, training the Vermont National Guard in guerrilla combat, fighting off an armed gang when he was 17, and surviving in the wilderness, I understood it. In order to get the rush of brain chemicals you receive in a peak Flow experience, he was always seeking higher stakes.
Flow is addictive and the potential it unlocks can be good or bad. Whether or not it is healthy depends on your principles, your goals, and your ability to maintain diverse sources of Flow. It is also impossible to always be in the Flow and it is dangerous to chase it blindly.
Learning this, I shifted my focus from trying to impart the intricacies of Flow through
oK and focus on the aspects that could be universally applied. This led me to The ABCs.