According to “Stealing Fire” authors Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal—there’s a new $4 trillion high performance revolution fueling the Navy’s SEAL Team Six and high profile executives in Silicon Valley and Wall Street to the top of their game—but no one on the mainstream level knows about it yet.
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“It’s a simple idea that our regular waking state of consciousness, what we would call 21st Century normal—tired, wired and stressed—is just not the best tool for the jobs that we are faced with and the challenges of today. And the ability to shift our states—deliberately, intentionally and productively—is one of the best ways for people to heal trauma [and] boost learning [and productivity],” Wheal tells FOX Business.
Wheal and Kotler spent four years researching how Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk as well as top Navy SEALs are using technology to reach altered states of consciousness -- or a “flow state” -- to achieve ultimate performance.
Last month, Navy Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski told reporters during a conference in Washington, D.C. that Team 6 has been testing out special headsets that stimulate the brain to help the user maintain peak performance for several hours.
“The Navy is exploring multiple cognitive enhancement technologies to improve mental and physical performance. We plan on using that in mission enhancement,” Szymanski said. “The performance piece is really critical to the life of our operators.”
The headsets from Halo Neuroscience were originally designed to help athletes improve on physical training by stimulating the part of their brain responsible for muscle movement. And it’s not just the military experimenting with brain enhancing tech—but also Wall Street, according to Kotler.
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“We’re seeing Wall Street traders zapping their brains with electros to kind of knock themselves out of normal waking consciousness before they are moving onto the trading floor,” Kotler says.
But the concept of finding your “flow state” isn’t new.
In 2013, McKinsey Quarterly published results from a ten-year global study of top executives that found that execs who achieved this altered state reported being up to 500% more productive than those who didn’t.
Mihàly Csìkszentmihàlyi, the psychologist who studied thousands of subjects for McKinsey’s “Increasing the Meaning Quotient of Work” report, said individuals who achieved the flow state were “more productive and derived greater satisfaction from their work than those who didn’t.”
“What that means is that you can go to work on Monday and [spend] Monday at a flow state and take Tuesday through Friday off, and you’re going to get as much done as your ‘steady state’ peers. Two days a week in flow, you’re going to be 1000% more productive then the competition,” Kotler adds.
Kotler and Wheal describe the altered or “flow state” as “ecstasis,” which means to “stand outside oneself” and to be “filled with inspiration.” And according to Kotler, the concept is currently fueling a $4 trillion underground market of gadgets, supplements, smart drugs and training facilities to help people get there.
“We measured everything from legal to illegal pharmaceuticals too,” Kotler adds. “And when we put it all together, the most conservative estimate that we can come up with, and we’re probably really [below the actual], is about $4 trillion a year.”
Wheal says Google (GOOGL) recently invited the duo to its campus for a six-week pilot, where they worked with various Google employees (from engineering to marketing) to help them reach their peak performance levels.
“We basically led them through a series of practices and behaviors with smart tech that led them to pay more attention to their body and brain state in service of peak performance at work, and the results were about 70% boost in productivity and focus on the task and the ability to lose yourself in the hard problems you’re trying to solve over that time period. And that was a relative minor invention to what is actually possible,” Wheal adds.
However, both the authors say that you don’t need to spend a fortune on high-priced gadgets to achieve your “flow state.”
“What we learned in this research is by sleeping more, by having a regular diet and nutrition practice. By moving consistently—by actually getting off our butts to increase neurological performance that actually gives us time back, because we are more effective in the time we do deploy versus always kind of ‘on’ and never fully recovered,” says Wheal.