How to reach our full potential – with Unashamedly Superhuman author Jim Steele

Growth is a natural part of human evolution, and the desire of most people is to expand in awareness as well as achievement. As a human being we grow through distress, boredom and a need to solve the issues that we are facing. You may want to take matters into your own hands and do what is needed in order to reach your highest potential. 

So how do we reach our superhuman potential?

Thanks to the following guests for participating:

Jim Steele is a business speaker, executive coach, leadership facilitator, and one of the world’s top business performance pioneers. Having gained experience at various levels of the organisational ladder, Steele understands the wide variety of challenges people face at every level in any business and has been doing so for the past two decades. He has dedicated his career to finding practical and achievable solutions to these challenges.

Drawing from cutting‐edge neuroscientific research, Steele is always seeking new solutions for the ever‐evolving challenges in today’s fast‐paced business world. He has a particular passion for combining high performance with well‐being, the basis of the Unashamedly Superhuman book.

Amy Clark, founder and executive coach at Growth Minded Leadership Group.

Andrew Marsh spends every day assisting people in finding their superpowers to excel in business.

Diana R. Patton, founder at Diana R. Patton Consulting.

Iman Gatti is a certified grief recovery specialist, transformational speaker and bestselling author.

Adam Balogh is a mystic.

Jamie Sea is an author, thought leader and a wealth expansion coach. You can follow Jamie on Instagram @prettylittleombre and @mamawhomanifests

Empowerment coach Jean-Pierre Claude.

Julianna Whitlow, a spiritual mentor, death priestess, and the CEO of A Clair Mindset.

Kunal Sawhney, CEO at Kalkine Group.

Una Doyle, a business strategist and impact coach for SMEs at CreativeFlow.TV, and the host of the She Leads Business Podcast.

Martin Sharp is a multi-award winning international consultant, fitness coach, speaker and author and founder of Sharp Fit For Life.

Moses Nalocca is also an international speaker, peak-performance coach and representative for Tony Robbins and Success Resources in Bulgaria.

Transformative coach Myra Mchale.

Executive coach and change consultant Sara Sheehan.

Rabbi Yonason Goldson, the host of the podcast Grappling with the Gray, and author of the book of the same name.

Here are some of the resources from the show:

Author Deepak Chopra discusses his book METAHUMAN, the experience of transcendence, and techniques for achieving self awareness.

Books looked at this week:

Jim Steele: Unashamedly Superhuman: Harness Your Inner Power and Achieve Your Greatest Professional and Personal Goals.

Deepak Chopra, M.D., Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential.

PS. I do not receive commission for reviewing books and talks.

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Transcription

Exploring how we can master ourselves by looking at how experts say it is possible with your host Suswati Basu.

Intro music

Welcome to season 2 episode 75 of How To Be…with me Suswati as your timid presenter, guiding you through life’s tricky topics and skills by reading through the best books out there. This is an extra long episode to mark the end of the 2022 and the beginning of 2023.

The word ‘superhuman’ tends to conjure images of Marvel comic characters zooming about in capes, battling evil. However, ordinary people have somehow managed to do extraordinary things, whether finding happiness despite suffering from a horrible disease or shooting three pointers in basketball. 

So can we have superpowers and go beyond our potential?

Here is Amy Clark, founder and executive coach at Growth Minded Leadership Group, Andrew Marsh, who spends every day assisting people in finding their superpowers to excel in business, Diana R. Patton, Founder at Diana R. Patton Consulting, Iman Gatti, who is a is a certified grief recovery specialist, transformational speaker and bestselling author, and Adam Balogh, a mystic on their views.

AMY CLARK: Our contribution to the world begins with how we view our own growth and with that clear view that is, when we unleash our full potential, we discover our growth point, the breakthrough moment, um, in understanding our purpose and recognizing how we can be even better. And in doing so, we now have the balance and the focus on what will have the greatest impact on ourselves and those account on what we do and what we can offer. And so it is important for us to make sure that we have a clear vision of what we want to become. We discover our, uh, why to growth and how it will advance we’re looking to do for ourselves. • And we also build our self awareness. We amplify things that may have been in the background for us before, so we are more skillful in how we respond and we build resilience. And then we put in place the specific intentions, those actions, those tactics that will help us achieve our goals. What do we need to do differently? And how do we set up a routine of that in ways to reflect on how we are doing? And I will say things that have stopped people from meeting their full potential is when we don’t take those steps. And when we look at it from a very singular, myopic narrow view, instead of looking at it from a visionary perspective and saying, are the actions I’m taking today helping me be more successful tomorrow?

ANDREW MARSH: Now, I’ve heard quite a few times that, uh, people sometimes talk about lack of confidence, imposter syndrome, not really sure where we’re going. But actually, at the end of the day, it is about having clear goals and clear understanding of what we want to try and to achieve each day and being consistent in the way that we approach it. But for me, there are three real core ingredients to make those goals achievable: the first one is our map. In the 1700s, all of the maps across the geography, across the world were wrong because our understanding of the world evolved over time, and that’s true of ourselves. Our minds create maps. Uh, sometimes those maps actually want us to find places where we feel crap and not grey. But what if we change that map to find places that really inspire us, that make us happy, that we do things that we want to do, that we’re trying to achieve? So let’s create a map that gives us that opportunity. The second thing is, around the support structure we put around us, it’s very easy to get lost. It’s very easy. Lack a bit of confidence in the decisions that we’re making, or if you’re not seeing the results, we lose a little patience. But that support structure, whether it’s peers, whether it’s family, whether it’s friends or colleagues, is really important. Surround yourself with people who are positive, who get you, who understand you. Let the naysayers go, and we all know who they are. And then finally, we have a personal choice as to how we play every day. I use the analogy of playing cards. I could play a two, which is a very low card. I’m feeling quite low. My tone would be low, my language would be low. Or I can play a higher card, um, like an eight to nine, a ten, a jack, where my energy is a lot higher. But that will rub off. It’ll not only rub off on me and give me an energy spur, but it will also rub off on other people. So choose the card we want to play, be consistent with the way that we want to play. Get the support structures right. Let’s think about the maps, get those maps going. Because at, uh, the end of the day, for me, we’ll either get what we want every day, or we’ll find excuses as to why we’ve never achieved them.

DIANA R PATTON: Every single one of us has deep within us an innate desire to reach our calling. We desire to reach our deepest potential. But what stops us is resistance. When we feel ourselves choking up, getting nervous, challenged in some way, we stop ourselves. Where, in fact, it is the very thing that we need to embrace to get us to the other side. Getting quiet, meditating, praying, if you need to, helps you connect to the deepest part of who you are to reach your deepest potential. We all have it. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in all of us. And that is what helps us reach our most innate, infinite potential. 

IMAN GATTI: Everyone wants to unleash their full potential. I really do. But I think what stops us is we’re worried about what other people are going to think about us. And I think the way to mitigate that is to learn who you really are. Because if you’re your biggest supporter and you’re, the one backing you. You are going to launch yourself into the world and you will not have time, focus or energy to pay attention to what other people think about that because you will be so in tune with yourself, so aligned with yourself so compelled by your mission here that you will not have the energy or the interest to worry about what other people’s experience of you is going to be. You are going to just be so sure of yourself and what you need to do with your time.

ADAM BALOGH: Superhuman. Who and what is a superhuman? A superhuman can be actually quite ordinary. A superhuman quality could be unconditional love, forgiveness, compassion, empathy but it could encompass the ability to start travel astra travel to levitate objects, levitate oneself to remote view telepathy, connect to loved ones with loved ones beyond veil. So it’s an innate ability that these people we like to call superhumans remember. I don’t think they’re special in that they have these qualities, but they’re special in that they remember. And if you’re sceptical, ask yourself this have you ever thought of a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while? And a minute later the phone rings and the very same person you were just thinking about decides to call you? Was this coincidence or did you plug into an informational field that connects all of us and encompasses the whole world? So are we really that super? Are we really that human? That’s the question.

(Back to host)

Our first book is from Jim Steele, who is a business speaker, executive coach, leadership facilitator, and one of the world’s top business performance pioneers. Having gained experience at various levels of the organisational ladder, he understands the wide variety of challenges people face at every level in any business and has been doing so for the past two decades. He has dedicated his career to finding practical and achievable solutions to these challenges. Drawing from cutting‐edge neuroscientific research, Steele is always seeking new solutions for the ever‐evolving challenges in today’s fast‐paced business world. He has a particular passion for combining high performance with well‐being, the basis of the Unashamedly Superhuman: Harness Your Inner Power and Achieve Your Greatest Professional and Personal Goals book. He was kind enough to speak to me so here is a snippet but find the full interview on http://www.howtobe247.com or on the YouTube channel.

JIM STEELE: I tell you what I’ve certainly experienced over the last few years. I would say it’s probably the ability to bounce back, right, and to take on, um, challenges that look, I have a real simple motivation for taking on challenges and that’s to explore some tangible, practical answers to what’s possible. And I don’t mean that in a motivational sense. It is motivational, by the way, but I really mean it in a sense that the book Unashamedly Superhuman. That the sexy word is superhuman, but the most important word is unashamedly. And unashamedly being the willingness to test yourself and challenge yourself and to find out genuinely what we got built into our system. And through the last few years of exploring that and testing it with a few challenges I took on and also with the clients that I work and people that I’ve observed trying to find some processes that we can rely on when things are difficult, when things are challenging, or when we set ourselves goals that are exciting but maybe slightly out of reach. We got a draw on something. And so therefore, if I have a superpower, it’s the willingness to take on challenges with a view to trying to extrapolate some value from it over and above just achieving the goal. M really interested in the process more than anything else. When I started thinking about Unashamedly Superhuman, what I was trying to do was to demystify some cliches. And I’ve seen it and I’ve heard this. I’ve been in this sector, I suppose, for the last 25 years, working with organisations, working with teams, and trying to work out how to access the best of people’s capabilities. So let’s call that potential. But I hear these cliches: we got to tap our potential, we’ve got to change our mindset, we’ve got to become more resilient. And these are set with good intentions, but there’s no value in those statements because they’re just so vague. Right? So a question I’ve been asking people, and I’m glad you asked me it because I’ve been asking audiences this for the last three years how much of your potential you tapping? What’s the number? What’s the percentage? And you know, in the chat box come hundreds of numbers pouring in 50%, 60%, 92. I mean, quite specific answers, by the way. But what you never hear, no one ever puts in the chat box. 100%, ever. Intuitively, we all believe there’s something to be accessed, there’s something there to be had, right? No one’s sitting there going, I’m tapping everything, Jim, I got nothing left. And I don’t mean effort. They could be giving everything. We’ve kind of intuitively feel there’s something there to be had. And I guess what’s interesting there was a, uh, piece of research some years ago about the performance psychology space. And what it suggested was that the human being was pretty much fully formed by the age of 25 in terms of their ability to develop things like focus, resilience, even empathy. It was like, you’re done now, you can’t get better at those things. But there was a guy called Robert Keegan from Harvard who did a long term study, and he actually found that there were some people, a minority, to be sure, that did manage to tap into something. And I don’t mean new skills like, of course we can learn new skills, learn a new language, play an instrument. But this was more about these intrinsic psychological capabilities. Again, focused, grit, determination. But what he found was some words. But what they managed to do, they managed to do two things. So to answer your question, the two things that were consistent with people that seemed to develop and I suppose nowadays we call that a growth mindset. This is the phrase we’re familiar with after Carol Dweck’s book from Stanford on Mindset. And he said there were two things. First of all, they have an ability to, um, observe opposing views on a topic. They weren’t fixed in their mindset that this is the way it is. They seem to be able to step back and see things from different angles. And I guess how does that relate to us? Well, whether you believe you’re good at something, whether you believe you’re capable. Well, let’s suggest my results would say I’m not. So I haven’t delivered results in a certain area. So I can either form the view, well, that’s me, I’m not good at that, right. Or what he was saying, Robert Keegan, was that people kind of suspended that doubt and, well, what if there was a way to develop it and they were able to hold these opposing views? The second thing they were able to do was have flexibility in the way they defined themselves. And I mean their identity of who they saw themselves as I am. How do you finish that sentence? In other words, they were able to build their identity based on potential growth rather than past results. It’s a little bit like you leave school or you leave college or university, and we form these beliefs that we are that person. And then 20 years later, you’re an educated person and you go waving or university, and I go give it out from 20 years ago. It has nothing to do with whether you’re educated 20 years later. So forming an identity based on what you’re trying to achieve rather than what you’ve achieved in the past is a fundamental part of a growth mindset. So how do we tap potential? Well, we have to start off with developing this mindset that there’s a possibility built into our DNA and our nervous system that we can always step outside of what we’ve done. And now the next thing is, well, how do you provoke that? Right? How do you provoke neural coding new ways of thinking and doing well? You need either an exciting ambition, something that you’re moving towards, or some situational stress. And like, most of us have got plenty of that in our lives, right? But if you’ve got some stress or some ambition, at least that provokes us to think, well, what am I going to do? How can I approach this differently? What do I need to become or learn? It’s, uh, a provocation for tapping into let’s call this use this phrase potential, right? So once you set that up and you start moving towards something, you very quickly start to realise that either you’re good enough or you’re not. Now, if you’re not good enough, that’s fine. You hit the wall, then you go, what have I got to get better at? So you start to develop, and then as you start to develop, you then start to really kind of tap into again, end the way the brain operates under pressure, seeking out new ways of thinking, new behavioural patterns that we require. Now, in the book I get into some very specific hacks and techniques and strategies for that, but it all has to start with some form of need, whether that’s by design or because of our circumstances. So I think that’s a starting point for most people. And by the way, we’re coming up to January where people are setting these resolutions for the year, and this time I mean it. I’m going to get healthier, fitter, and more successful, but that’s a good start. Look, I mean, there’s not enough. It’s a place to begin having some aspiration to move towards something as a way of tapping into potential.

(Back to host)

We tend to save that label superhuman for those rare few, those individuals who have achieved something miraculous. However, being ‘Superhuman’ can be achieved through self‐actualisation, Steele says, which means the realisation of our full potential. Which is why Steele challenges himself to do the IRONMAN® triathlete despite having two six‐inch titanium rods screwed either side of his spine to facilitate a double disc fusion and three subsequent knee surgeries. So how did he achieve this feat?

Before anything, Steele says the reason why we have superhero origin stories  in the first place is because they inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths, and using them for good purpose. So the aim of the book is to combine high performance and well‐being as a function of the skillful management and mobilisation of our energy. Furthermore, we all have an in‐built set of resources that, when harnessed and deployed, can immediately elevate our performance to a superhuman level. Superhuman isn’t just something you have to work at, it’s also something you already are. It’s in‐built, and here’s how we’re going to prove it.

He begins with a breath-holding exercise not advised for those who are pregnant or have pulmonary conditions. Sit comfortably or lie down. First, take in 30 full, deep breaths. Fully in then let go. No gap between exhale and inhale. Feeling light-headed is normal. After the 30th breath, you breathe out and STOP. Then wait calmly until you feel the need to breathe back in. When you do feel the urge to breathe back in, take one full recovery breath (stop the stopwatch) hold your breath for the count of 15, and enjoy! Do this three times and you’ll notice your capacity to hold your breath will keep increasing.

So what is potential? Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics to the social sciences, to indicate things that are in a state where they are able to change in ways ranging from the simple release of energy by objects to the realisation of abilities in people. If you put yourself into a new situation, new gene codes and new neural structures are formed. 

To survive and thrive in a VUCA world, a term first coined in 1987 by leadership gurus Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, we need Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility – the counterweight to Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Developing these four capabilities is essential if we are to survive in a VUCA world, which we faced during the pandemic.

Steele refers to the fact that many faced Elisabeth Kubler Ross well-known stages of grief during this period of time, and in order to go through change, we first need to accept the situation. The author believes that performance = potential minus interference. Hence, first of all we have to agree that we do at least have some potential available to tap into. Then we need to figure out what are all the interferences that are currently getting in the way? This can be anything from inflation to lack of motivation depending on what you are working on. Look at each piece of interference and decide where it resides – if you can’t accept it, affect it; but if you can’t affect it, accept it.

Having accepted the challenge in front of you, you’re then in a position to free up your thinking and direct your focus on the next desired state that you want to manifest. You will have prioritised your thinking and started to carve out a vision of the future that energises you and lifts your spirits.

Activate is step three. The goal also provides the drive required to keep us moving forward whilst we’re endeavouring to adjust our behavioural habits and disciplines. This additional motivation helps us to Persist, step four, and bed‐in the new behaviours. Finally, step five, Tune in & Tune up helps us to keep our focus on both our progress and our continued self‐development. You have to tune in and work out what’s working for you as well as what isn’t. Celebrate your daily and weekly successes and establish the areas for ongoing improvement.

The reframe “Accept the Adventure” does more than just provoke an upbeat mood as we contemplate the way forward. It also activates a specific part of the brain called the ventral striatum. That’s the technical term, or we could also call it the seeking system. This system is urging us to explore the boundaries of what we know. It’s the new and the desire to learn, and we can think about stimulating and activating this part of the brain. For example, when the seeking system is activated, it releases dopamine into our body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel more alive. That, in turn, immediately influences everything you see in connection to your goal and it informs where to focus your attention.

Consider this equation: Knowledge + Skills + Process × Mindset = Performance. When we are driving change and striving to adapt to new conditions or environments, there is likely to be a demand on us to develop some new capabilities. This simple formula provides a useful checklist to review our current position compared to our desired outcome. In spite of the critical importance of developing the required knowledge, skills, and processes, the thing that determines whether we have access to our ability in the heat of the moment is our mindset. 

Psychologists call it 7+ or –2, meaning our conscious mind can only manage seven areas of focus at any one time before steam comes out of our ears. This can be increased to nine if we’re in a particularly resourceful state or reduced to five if you’re already a little stressed going in. This phase is where the work really begins. 

According to a 2016 study, of the 41 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions, by the end of the year only 9 percent feel they are successful in keeping them. It would seem that just setting the goal with positive intentions isn’t enough to get the job done. Persistence is required.

Human being’s ability to plan and to implement plans and the adaptive nature of our brain and nervous system, means we are able to modify our behaviours, our thoughts, our emotions, and ultimately, our actions so that we continually build out technologies that allow us to adapt faster and faster and faster. We have elements of our wiring that are designed to do that, but more importantly, and specifically relevant when focusing on persistence, is something known as the dopamine system. It’s a powerful driver and force for us.

Dopamine is a chemical that’s released in the brain. It’s best known as the reward chemical. It’s released anytime we achieve anything important to us including a much more powerful role when pursuing goals, particularly when the desire is to adapt more in order to endure less. You’ll also be familiar with another equally powerful brain chemical: adrenaline or noradrenaline as it’s known. Adrenaline is associated with the effort process. However,  it turns out there’s a circuit in the brain that is counting off and measuring how much adrenaline is present. And when you exert for long enough and there’s no dopamine, it triggers a quitting reflex. Adrenaline is responsible for giving us an additional boost or a second wind.

Fortunately, we have the capacity as humans to self‐dose dopamine. The reward system is entirely internal and it’s our ability to focus on wins throughout the day that create the necessary momentum. This performance hack is called self‐rewarding. The idea is to reward the effort process. Rewarding yourself at every milestone, it registers as a partial win. It’s like a “feel good” dopamine drip feed. 

Mother Nature installed another reward mechanism. This one releases the feel‐good chemicals serotonin and oxytocin which generate a sense of peace and calm in the here and now. They’re literally heart‐warming because they trigger neural circuits that link the gut and brain and create a sense of warmth in the torso. As a result, gratitude also keeps the adrenaline at bay by buffering the quit reflex. 

Steele recommends a series of simple tune‐up performance hacks to help us to quickly de‐stress. Essentially we experience two types of stress: acute and chronic. Acute is short term and intense, while chronic is less intense but long lasting. There are two types of strategies or tools for dealing with stress. The first type are those that push the stress level down before it really kicks in. Here, we prevent the quit reflex from cutting in and draining our energy. 

We’ve looked at two self‐rewarding hacks; thin‐slicing recognition when we’re on the path and adopting gratitude practices. The second type of strategies are those that reduce the stress response after it’s already been activated. Here, we can prevent the build‐up of the stress hormone cortisol and the disempowering feelings that can come with it.

One is to create more of the right kind of stress, this includes apparently short, intentional bursts of acute stress can be really effective for reducing chronic stress. For example, a short, intense workout. . .just 10 or 15 minutes. Second is mindful reframing. An interesting study done at the University of Wisconsin found that individuals who experienced a high level of stress throughout their life, but viewed stress as a trigger for growth and development, had dramatically lower rates of illness than individuals who experienced less stress, but viewed it as a bad thing! 

The third is the physiological sigh. We can do it to cancel the stress response after it’s already been activated. It buys us a moment of control before we respond. The best time to test it is right after you feel a surge of stress. It’s a simple breathing practice that triggers the calming reflex. This has to do with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs and bloodstream. If you want to calm down quickly, you want to trigger the activation of a specific set of neurons in the brainstem that are actually responsible for sighing.

We don’t realise it, but subconsciously throughout the day, and during sleep, we do something where we inhale twice, and then we do a long exhale. You take a big deep inhale through your nose, and then at the top, you’re going to inhale again, and then you exhale through your mouth. It immediately balances the ratio of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the lungs and bloodstream properly, and it triggers activation of the sigh neurons, which have a direct and fast route to what we’re calling the calming circuit. If repeated several times, you will naturally restore a level of calm.

Many of the world’s greatest sportspeople are trained to use the Win Learn Change model to process failure literally in the moment. That is where they reflect on a situation where they didn’t achieve the result they wanted, they missed the penalty or dropped the ball but instead of interpreting the outcome as a loss, a mistake or a failure, they rapidly shift into “learning” mode. They extract the critical information that affected their performance, process it, and then move on. Hence if the word lose is removed from the equation and replaced by learn, our brain doesn’t get the signal to release cortisol, the stress hormone. Steele recommends keeping a journal thinking about this a few times a week.

Focusing, even briefly, on the wins releases dopamine. Not just the successful results that you may have achieved (Outcome), but also the wins along the way (Path). Over time, the brain builds stronger and stronger associations to the behaviours, mindsets, and results that you recognise, making them more desirable and easier to repeat. 

Steele has three steps in helping to adopt a stress‐enhancing mindset. 

Step 1: Acknowledge that you’re stressed. See it and own it.

Step 2: Welcome it. Here, you’re using it as an opportunity to reconnect to what it is that you care about.

Step 3: Utilise the stress response to achieve the thing that you care about instead of spending your time, money, effort, and energy trying to get rid of the stress.

The many advantages of flow include an uplift in motivation and productivity, learning and memory, creativity and innovation, grit and persistence, empathy, and collaboration and cooperation. Thanks to modern neuroscience, we now understand flow states are induced via interactions between five different neurotransmitters:

Dopamine – shows up when you want something. Focus and motivation.

Norepinephrine – along with dopamine, tightens your focus.

Endorphins – block pain, allowing you to work longer.

Anandamide – prompts lateral mental connections. Encourages insights.

Serotonin – the “feel good” chemical.

When you enter into flow, dopamine floods the brain. It increases attention, information flow, and pattern recognition. It acts as a skill booster. It has what’s known as a long arc, meaning the boost is long‐lasting and slow to diminish. Norepinephrine (aka adrenaline) speeds up the heart rate, muscle tension, and respiration. It triggers a glucose response so we have more energy, increasing attention, neural efficiency, and emotional control. 

Endorphins are next. The word endorphin derives from the word endogenous, meaning “naturally internal to the body.” Endorphins relieve pain and induce pleasure. Anandamide stems from the Sanskrit word for bliss. It is an endogenous cannabinoid and feels similar to the psychoactive effect found in marijuana. Anandemide is released in exercise‐induced flow states, elevates mood, relieves pain, dilates blood vessels, and aids respiration. It has also been proven to amplify lateral thinking. At the end of the flow state, serotonin fills the brain, producing an afterglow effect. It occurs after the flow state has been and gone. In a nutshell, these five chemicals make up the brain science of flow states. The golden rule is: flow follows focus.

Stephen Kotler, who is a multi‐award–winning author and heads up a group of neuroscientists and performance psychologists at the Flow Research Collective, has helped identify 10 core characteristics of this state. The research his group has done suggests that the first six of these characteristics constitute flow, whereas the last four (intense concentration, immediate feedback, clear goals, and the challenge/skills ratio) are characteristics of the state. 

– Action and Awareness Merge: It’s where actions feel automatic and require little or no additional resources.

– Selflessness: The inner critic is silenced.

– Timelessness: We are plunged into an eternal present, a deep now.

– Effortlessness: Our sense of struggle and strife vanishes. 

– Paradox of Control: We have a powerful sense of control over the situation. 

– Intrinsic Motivation: We do it because the activity itself is so incredibly enthralling that it is its own reward.

– Intense Concentration: Complete absorption in the present moment.

– Clear Goals: Small important goals.

– Immediate Feedback: We can always course‐correct mid‐flight.

– Challenge/Skills Balance: We have to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. But not too far outside.

Shifting from a negative to a positive mindset can be challenging, but is important. By using priming questions, we may be able to change this. As you write down your answers to these three simple questions, take a moment to visualise the situation you’re focusing on and think about how that will apply to your day. The first question is: “What am I going to let go of today?”  Next consider the question: ”What am I grateful for today?” Finally, ask yourself: ”What am I definitely going to accomplish today?” 

How do you get into flow when life sucks and the work is hard, really hard? Well step 1 starts with the struggle phase, so make a list of the hacks that help you deal with a struggle and pin it to a place you can see. Next is the release phase where we attempt to pass the problem through our conscious mind to our subconscious mind, which can be done by making a statement of intention and using the priming questions mentioned before. Steps 3 and 4 are the flow and recovery phase.

The first thing to learn about recovery is to protect your schedule. Recovery is a skill, and it requires persistence. You could read 20–30 pages of a book that sits outside your core subject. Most people find fiction to be better than nonfiction. The de‐compression effect will add a lot more cognitive flow to your life. Another good flow practice is to use the power of visualisation. 

Motivation is the force that compels us to take action. So, what is it that truly motivates you? According to the flow theory, flow experience occurs when skills are neither overmatched nor underutilised to meet a given challenge. The balance of challenge and skill is delicate. The goal should be significant. It should be inspirational and aggressive yet realistic. If it’s too in reach it doesn’t recruit enough of the autonomic nervous system to make pursuit likely. If it’s too lofty and too intangible, the dopamine doesn’t kick in either. More than anything, we need total commitment. So just pick one or two objectives that are going to fire you up from the inside out over the next six to 12 months. 

Passion has been declared everything from the secret to success in business to the foundation of a meaningful life. And if that word doesn’t excite you, then how about what adventure are you seeking? Steele introduces goal-stacking which is first of all figuring out why you want to achieve this goal, next make your goals specific and measurable, and then you need a daily focus goal to achieve it. However, distractions fracture our attention, dissipating the focus needed to stay in the zone. We need to get seriously protective of our attention!

You’ve probably heard of the circadian rhythm, the ebb and flow of energy over a 24‐hour period. Well, the ultradian rhythm is similar just over a shorter period of time. This biological phenomenon helps explain why certain periods of the day are more productive than others. Typically, the human brain works best by focusing on a task in 90‐minute intervals followed by 20‐minute periods of rest. Pushing past this 90‐minute mark can result in decreased focus. That’s why focus sprinting is so effective. It takes advantage of your brain’s natural rhythms to capitalise on the times you are at your peak performance. 

Research done in the 1990s on Tibetan Buddhists found that long‐term meditation produces brain waves in the gamma range, which allows for increased focus. In another study, researchers noticed increased grey matter density in the hippocampus, a structure associated with storing memories and emotional control, and they found a decrease in grey matter in the amygdala, a structure associated with stress, fear, and anxiety, including our fight‐or‐flight response. This 15‐minute‐a‐day habit, increases both composure and resilience. Steele believes mindfulness leads to observation, objectivity, and openness. So focus attention on the breath, attention wanders from the breath, acknowledge current focus of attention and then redirect focus of attention to the breath.

There are plenty of habit stacking tips but here is a performance hack Steele suggests. The system involves setting out to perform up to five new habits a day, across the course of 21 days. The idea is you write down five things that you would like to do every day for 21 days. However, the expectation is that you’ll only complete three or four of them each day. So, built into this is a permission to fail, but it’s not failure because it turns out that this approach to forming habits is based not so much on the specific habits that you’re trying to form, but the habit of performing habits. 

Then we need to recover in a world class way. Recovery can be broken down into two types: active recovery and micro recovery. Active recovery is any activity that is restorative and rejuvenating. Those activities that are designed to put gas back in the tank. Micro recovery includes techniques that rapidly enable us to reset and decompress. There were two techniques in particular. One of them is a simple breathing technique called the 4‐7‐8 technique (also known as “relaxing breath”). Breathe in through the nose for the count of four, hold for seven and exhale through the mouth for a count of eight. Repeat that pattern for a minute or two. It turns out when we inhale, it stimulates the stress response and when we exhale it triggers a resting state. 

The second micro recovery technique involves looking at the wall opposite you and find a point straight ahead and a little above eye level. While keeping your focus on that point, start to become aware of the things in the room in your peripheral vision. Notice what is off to the left and right. Don’t take your eyes off the point ahead but also start to notice what’s above you and on the floor. Your focus will soften as you extend your awareness to everything around you, from nine o’clock to three o’clock without moving your eyes. After a few seconds you will be paying attention to the details that you can see at the margins of your awareness, perhaps expanding past 180 degrees. Your breathing will automatically slow and your muscles will relax naturally.

Sleep hygiene is vital. So, make sure your room is cool and totally dark. Not eating less than two hours before bed and doing some early evening exercise will all help. Nothing new there. Makes sense and is easy to do. Not so easy, but worth a mention, is no caffeine after 3 in the afternoon, no alcohol after 7 p.m., and chopping out the phone scrolling at least 30 minutes before lights out. Good sleepers also recommend closing all open “cognitive loops” or clearing your mind before lights out using a short to-do list. Even 20 minute naps can be beneficial. Leonardo da Vinci apparently took 15 minute naps every 4 hours.

What you’re eating can have an impact on your physiology of course. Dr Alia Crum, mentioned earlier, conducted a milkshake test at the Yale Center for Clinical and Translational Research. Volunteers believed the drink was either a high fat 620 calorie drink, or a low-fat diet shake. In reality it was the same shake at 300 calories. When measuring the body’s response, they were looking at the hormone ghrelin. Medical experts call this the hunger hormone. It causes us to seek out food. People who thought they were drinking the high-fat shake had lower levels of the hormone. When you see the positive results of your nutritional choices, remind yourself that you’re on the right path. 

Steele talks about Wim Hof, commonly known as the Iceman. He swam under ice for 217 feet (66 metres), he ran a barefoot half‐marathon above the Arctic Circle only wearing shorts, he climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro in just boots and shorts, and he holds 22 Guinness world records for endurance. So how can we be more like him? The first Radbound University study in 2011 showed that by using his method of breathing, Wim was able to voluntarily influence his autonomic nervous system, one of the exercises was the 30 breath challenge. The volunteers who did the breathwork and had E-Coli injected experienced none of the symptoms. Wim’s ability to adapt his mind and body enables him to remain calm and composed, and thereby self‐regulate his stress response. The result is he has access to his brain’s cognitive functions rather than losing control and tipping him into a fight‐or‐flight response.

Wim Hof’s power‐breathing technique has, in fact, been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and is otherwise known as Tummo breathing or Pranayama. Tummo consists of a combination of breathing and visualisation techniques used to enter a deep state of meditation that is used to increase a person’s “inner heat.”

Claims for the health benefits of cold‐water immersion date back centuries. According to Hippocrates, water therapy allayed lassitude. The claim is that gradual exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of something called brown adipose tissue, resulting in fat loss, reduced inflammation, balanced hormone levels, and improved sleep quality as well as the production of endorphins, the feel‐good chemicals that naturally elevate our mood. Perhaps best of all, it provides a healthy, sustained increase in dopamine, and not just in the moment; it’s been shown to stay in our system for hours afterwards.

During the process of adaptation start warm, inject a little cold, then back to warm. 

Days 1 to 5: Cold for 10 seconds

Days 6 to 10: Cold for 20 seconds

Days 11 to 15: Cold for 30 seconds

Days 16 to 20: Cold for 45 seconds

Days 21 to 25: Cold for one minute

Days 26 to 30: Cold for between one and two minutes

No one knows what the future holds, but it’s definitely an adventure as Steele says.

Before our next book, here are Jamie Sea, who is an author, thought leader and a wealth expansion coach, empowerment coach Jean-Pierre Claude, Julianna Whitlow a Spiritual Mentor, Death Priestess, and the CEO of A Clair Mindset, Kunal Sawhney, CEO at Kalkine Group, and Una Doyle, a business strategist and impact coach for SMEs at CreativeFlow.TV, and the host of the She Leads Business Podcast on their views.

JAMIE SEA: If you’re desiring to step into your full potential, here is how to begin the process. First, we must become wildly aware of self. There can be no change that happens without observing your personal patterns. Print out a time chart and observe your thoughts and behaviours for every moment of the day. This will actually allow for you to understand what you’re observing and how to start shifting into what expands me and what depletes me. So wake up every morning and instead of looking at your phone first thing. Observe your thoughts, write down on your time chart and see how this observation will allow for you to shift and to change. Change is possible. It is happening every moment of the day. And if you become wildly aware of self, you will start to see where your full potential lies.

JEAN-PIERRE CLAUDE: Our full potential lies in being true to who we are and what we want out of life. If you align with what you love and are passionate about, then you bring all of you into what you’re doing. And this is where your heart and mind are in agreement. Bringing all of who you are into what you do puts you in that place where your ideas and inspiration are unparalleled. And reaching your full potential isn’t about whether others feel that you have lined up to their expectations. Caring about whether others see you as being successful can actually trip you up. It’s really about how you feel about the things that you have done and accomplished. And you simply will not feel that you have reached your full potential if the journey isn’t fulfilling to you. In short, pour your energy into what you feel passionate about and let the miracle unfold.

JULIANNA WHITLOW: I want to just take a moment and talk to you today about living our superhuman life, being at our highest potential, and what’s holding us back from doing so. What told us from a young age that we could be anything that we want to be, that the sky’s the limit. And at the same time, we are put into moulds to fit what our loved ones think we should be and how society wants us to act. If we dare break out of those moulds, we are made to feel, possibly misunderstood, that we won’t be accepted, and even a fear of failing. But once we get to break out of these moulds, it’s when we get to truly see ourselves for who we really are, that we get to see our fullest potential, that we get to tap into our superhuman powers, that we get to understand eternal power, unconditional love. So, allowing ourselves to break out of these moulds is what allows us to transform into our highest timeline and our highest potential.

KUNAL SAWHNEY: If you look at how the human race has collectively progressed, especially the peaceful growth after the two world wars, there’s much to believe in. Our capabilities, believe in yourself are essential to unleashing your true potential. I remember reading the making of the science fiction film Jurassic Park, which was seemingly an impossible task at the time, when filmmaking technology was not as advanced as it is today. But Steven Spielberg believed in what could be achieved by unlocking our, uh, potential. This is just one example and why I cited it. Because today’s youth connects well and with such, uh, precedents. We, uh, have had single individuals from, uh, Martin Luther King, Jr. To Mahatma, uh, • Gandhi, who single handedly led civil rights movements in their respective countries. One individual alone can do unbelievable and seemingly impossible things. And the only prerequisite is self belief. A woman can be the Vice President of the world’s biggest economy. A person from a non majority race can be the Prime Minister of the UK. And people from humble backgrounds and little inherited wealth can occupy the top positions among the richest people on the planet. It is the unrelenting and uncompromising belief that makes every such thing possible.

UNA DOYLE: How can we unleash our full potential and what, uh, usually stops us? Well, what I have seen time and time again and what I personally experienced is that when people look at the impact that they want to create, that they want to make for the world, as opposed to thinking about what they want for themselves, then they are far, far more likely to go after that and to unleash their full potential in looking to impact on other people. Now, I’m not talking here about being a martyr • and just giving and giving and giving and over giving, which a lot of women do particularly. But looking at the impact that they want to make in terms of what usually stops us from doing this is mindset. Mindset and procrastination. And a lot of procrastination is due to mindset. So it’s people being so concerned about what will people think? I heard that a lot growing up. People can have money issues, people don’t value their gifts. They don’t understand how to be in flow and how to harness their natural strengths and personality and use the strategies and ways of working that really suit them. So I think, uh, those kinds of things, trying to copy other people instead of actually really being themselves, I think these are the things that usually stop people unleashing their full potential. Because when we look to make a bigger impact on other people, well, that is when we will get the reward for doing that. When you set things up in the right way and we guess the wonderful, wonderful, warm, fuzzy feeling of helping other people. And that really is the best way for us to unleash our full potential.

(Back to host)

Our next book is Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential by leading spiritual advocate Deepak Chopra, who studied medicine in India before moving to the US where he focuses on meditation. Here he is 

DEEPAK CHOPRA: A heightened state of awareness is an expanded state of awareness where we go beyond the conditioning of our mind and access insight, intuition, creativity, choice, and a vision of possibilities. But most importantly, we harness the power of intention and attention to create whatever we want to create our personal reality and ultimately even influence our collective reality.

Dr Chopra begins by saying our reality is a simulation. What we experience through our senses isn’t technically a concrete reality but a sophisticated simulation. What we see for example is a collection of particles, which emit electromagnetic waves known as photons. Your retina, the layer of tissue at the back of your eye, registers the presence of these photons. It then captures impressions of them and sends this to your visual cortex, the part of your brain that processes visual information. Only when your visual cortex interprets the signals detected by your retina do you see the object.

Then how do we know what object we are seeing? Because your sensory perception interfaces with the mental framework you’ve been building up since birth. This framework conditions you to sort sensory experiences into categories, dividing the natural world up into “plants,” “trees,” and “flowers.” It’s this framework that sorts billions of shades into categories like “red,” “blue,” and “yellow.” This goes for all of our other senses as well. In this way, everything we experience is mind-made – mediated and shaped by our mental processes.

Similarly we exist in a complex matrix of human-made mental models. No belief system is actually realistic. Our mind-made reality isn’t just made up of all the data that gets filtered by our senses. It’s also constructed from all the ideas and impressions that we filter through a complex matrix of beliefs. This matrix helps us to organise and understand the world we live in. Furthermore, it shapes our understanding of the past, our experience of the present, and our attitudes to the future. Different groups of people have different matrices of beliefs and ideas, and so construct completely different realities. 

These mental frameworks might help us understand and organise our world, but in truth, they’re also extremely limiting. Nevertheless, to reach our full potential, we need to start unravelling the threads of our mind-made reality and expose the true reality that lies beyond. Meta is Greek for “beyond.” Meta Reality exists beyond the mind-made reality that most of us inhabit. It is reality without limits or constraints – a wellspring of infinite possibilities. 

But how do you access meta reality? Strip your consciousness of all the mind-made models that inhibit it. You’re left with pure awareness – awareness produces all reality, and when reality is freed from illusion and artifice, only awareness remains. Meta Reality is pure awareness beyond the bounds and limitations of everyday perception. The experience of meta reality is, therefore, an experience of infinite possibilities and potential. And apparently metahumans already exist.

Dr Chopra lists the incredible feats of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who  intuitively created harmony out of infinite variations of musical notes, composing a staggering 50 symphonies. And physicist Richard Feynman, who glimpsed the infinite vastness of the universe and distilled it into tangible scientific principles. In other words, they all accessed the infinite possibilities of meta reality to become metahuman. As a result, they accomplished feats outside the bounds of mind-made reality. They may seem like outliers, but needn’t be.

The first step on your journey is to ground your body and mind in the present, letting constructs of the past and future fall away; the best way to achieve this is by practising mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of waking meditation. When you practise mindfulness, you bring pure, unmediated awareness to your experience of your body and your thoughts. Rather than trying to impose meaning on any of your thoughts, you simply register them, letting them flow through you.

First, tune into your perceived reality at the very source of perception: the five senses. Relax into the present moment, and open yourself up to the flow of things happening around you by returning to the basics, like light, warmth, and smell. Observe these experiences, and as you relax into them, allow your  observations to grow effortlessly deeper and richer.

Then, start to expand your perceived reality. The perceived reality most of us experience is the merest fraction of the sensory experiences that surround us. Hold your hands over your ears, or turn off the lights in your house at night and try to move from room to room. Note what you’re able to experience now that you’ve deepened your engagement with your perceived reality.

Then, when you lift your hands or turn on your lights, sensory experience floods back in. Notice how your perceived reality expands when it does, and how much more perception is possible when you remove your self-imposed limits. The author says learn to strip away your mental conditioning and you will meet your true self. It’s necessary to reverse these processes of reification, the tendency to reduce an immaterial idea to its concrete representation.

First, realise that at the moment you’re born, you enter into a world that has been interpreted for you. You inherit the structures and systems generated by thousands of years of meaning-making – humans coming up with explanations and ways of thinking that help them make sense of their world. 

Try and return to your true self by giving yourself the challenge of having one original thought. A thought that doesn’t echo a thought from a book or a movie. A thought that doesn’t grow from memory. A thought that comes from deep inside the true self. It’s very unlikely that you’ll instantly be able to produce an original thought. Nevertheless, this exercise will open your eyes to the mental conditioning that narrows your consciousness. 

Dr Chopra believes that everyone has the potential to unlock creativity in the realms of William Shakespeare and artist Vincent Van Gogh. Profound creativity occurs when an individual perceives that which lies beyond the conventions of everyday reality. 

Here’s an exercise to get you started on this journey: Consider a small object – a button, or keys for example. Reflect on the fact that these are all ideas that have taken a physical shape. Now consider a larger object, like the Statue of Liberty. It, too, is an idea that has taken a physical shape. Consider yourself in the mirror and understand that you are also infinite creativity in a physical shape. Soon, you will stop associating creativity with a form and start tapping into creativity itself, at its source: meta reality.

So to sum up:

Steele says in Unashamedly Superhuman that we know we have the ability to become better. So accept our adventure with cognitive reframing. Direct our seeking system to open our eyes to new possibilities. Activate the new and improved to take us to the next level. Persist by suppressing the quit reflex. Tune in and tune up to carve out new skills. Then remember flow follows focus, causing us to feel and perform at our very best. One, two, three minds shift us from negative to positive to flow states. Cycle to flow gives us the process to push through our comfort zones. Under the radar creates limitless motivation. Staying in the now develops composure and laser‐like focus. Finally, habit stacking gives us total control over our winning behaviours. Active recovery helps us to reset and keeps us in the game for longer. Iceman cometh re-strengthens our nervous system and builds unstoppable endurance. 

Dr Chopra says in Metahuman that our day-to-day reality is inauthentic, compromised by the limiting mental and social frameworks that humans have imposed upon it. Our true reality is meta reality, which exists outside of all of the many interpretations that we human beings add to it. When we start to understand the limitations and illusions of perceived reality, we open a path to meta reality. By shedding the constrictions of mind-made reality and activating the infinite potential of our own consciousness, we are able to access our own infinite, metahuman potential. So free your mind from the construct of “clock time”.

I had great pleasure in reading these books, but I definitely am picking and choosing what works for me. Not everyone is into the concept of ‘meta’, but we can still be creative, and while ice walks may not be for me, maybe a cold shower will do the trick from time to time. Please join in on the conversation by following @howtobe247 on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast, which can be found via http://www.howtobe247.com. 

Please do leave a review if you found this helpful and you want to be featured! Thanks to NEO 10Y, a recording artist and spiritual revolutionary, for your lovely comments saying the podcast is “Incredibly insightful!” and that it is “visionary”.

Before we go, here are Martin Sharp, who is a multi-award winning international consultant, fitness coach, speaker and author and founder of Sharp Fit For Life, Moses Nalocca who is also an international speaker, peak-performance coach and representative for Tony Robbins and Success Resources in Bulgaria, transformative coach Myra Mchale, executive coach and change consultant Sara Sheehan, and Rabbi Yonason Goldson, the host of the podcast Grappling with the Gray, and author of the book by the same name on their views. See you in two week’s time!

MARTIN SHARP: One of the greatest keys to unlocking your true potential is to really understand what are, uh, your values, what are the things that you really get out of bed for? Those two or three really core things that you will do every single day, no matter how much stress no matter how much stress, no matter how much pressure you are put under, that will keep driving you forward. And once you understand the real root of those actual values, then you can start to think about what would happen if you didn’t live those values, what would happen if you didn’t achieve those goals you’re looking to do and reach that potential. Because then you understand the impact that will have on your life, on your family, on your well being, on your self esteem, on those all those things that really make you who you are. Because those are the three key things that are deep rooted inside you, make you do what you do. And yet the other side of that is once you understand them, they’re also the greatest lever that once you use them, actually propel you forwards. Because automatically you have that thing in your mind. Keep going when things get tough, to keep going when things get great. And just make sure you achieve what you need to achieve. 

MOSES NALOCCA: How to unleash your true full potential. Okay, number one, you need to have total full awareness. Know where you are and know where you want to go. Understand and identify what is the obstacle. What is stopping you? So normally what is stopping us is the fear of being judged, the fear of being, of disappointing somebody else. That matters for us. And the fastest way to unleash your potential is, number one, have awareness. Number two, watch out how you see yourself. Because the way you see yourself determines how you will perform. So if you see yourself as a champion, if you see yourself as a leader, if you see yourself as an entrepreneur, then you will perform in that way. Then you step into that reality. Once you are aware of where you are and who you are, now you can get into the real action.

MYRA MCHALE: Within each of us lives the power to be superhuman, to create a different reality for ourselves. But we can’t create that reality from our thoughts. If our thoughts are negative, we have to think better than we feel. We have to reprogram our minds to think better than how we feel. And the mind is usually just a record of the past. So things have gone a certain way for you in the past. Unless you change the thinking that created that past, then you’re just going to keep on recreating the same reality. My advice to you is watch the narrative that you tell yourself. Watch the story of yourself. Say to yourself every time you have a negative thought. I notice that I’m having the thought that always think greater than how you feel. If you modify your behaviours and get your behaviours to match your intentions, then I promise you, your. Reality will change, and you’ll step into your superpowers.

SARA SHEEHAN: In terms of how we can be superhuman and unleash our full potential, it really involves a couple of things. It involves getting some great habits in your life and trying to be better by a little bit each and every day. And those improvements are like compounding interest. They help you grow exponentially. I would also add that being willing to sharpen the saw and continue to learn new things will always pay dividends when you want to reach your full potential. When I think about people that are stuck and have not reached their fullest potential, I think they are stuck based on fear, anxiety, and unwillingness to step out of their comfort zone.

RABBI YONASON GOLDSON: I have a four step formula for success: passion, perseverance, patience and prayer. First, identify what you love and what you’re good at. That’s your passion. That’s where you have to put all your effort. Start developing yourself, and then you have to persevere. Keep at it, because the more you do it, the better you’ll get. And the better you get, the more effectively you’ll be able to accomplish what you’re setting out to do. Then comes patience. There’s no way to beat that 10,000 hours rule. You simply have to keep deep at it overnight. Success can sometimes take 510 or 20 years, but if you persevere, you will get there. And that’s where prayer comes in. You have to recognise you’re part of something greater than yourself. You have a purpose for which you were created. When you focus on your passion, you persevere, you have the patience, and you look towards that higher purpose. That’s how you develop your superpower. That’s how you change the world for the best.

Published by suswatibasu

Suswati Basu is a writer, journalist, producer and feminist activist residing in London. She has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the F-Word blogs, and has worked for various media outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 and for ITV News/ITN. She currently works as a senior intelligence expert.

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