Ignite your “fire in the gut” and unleash your potential
I just finished watching best-selling author and flow expert Steven Kotler’s incredible video “The Habit of Ferocity.” Wow! It really fired me up. The “ferocity” Kotler discusses is what frogmen have been calling fire in the gut for decades. Kotler is right! You need to ask yourself what really fires you up? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Are you utilizing this in your daily work? If not, you’re missing out on a potential source of ideas and inspiration – your fire in the gut! Fire in the gut is often described as having passion, determination and a powerful sense of ambition. I believe it’s a state when everything inside of you is striving hard to achieve a specific goal. I say that because having a fire in your gut is more than just passion. Passion comes and goes and can die out, while a genuine fire in the gut never burns out. No matter how you define it, it’s an essential requirement for achieving peak performance and flow. And flow is where it happens!
That “extra gear”
Most people only ever experience flow in brief, uncontrollable flashes. But when you learn how to ignite your fire in the gut, you’re laying the foundations for accessing and remaining in flow, more frequently and consistently than ever before. You are unleashing your potential. We tend to say that individuals who achieve peak performance are highly skilled, but peak performance has more to do with states of consciousness than skill sets, according to Steven Kotler. Have you noticed how elite performers seem to access an “extra gear” when things are hardest? They rise seemingly effortlessly to challenges to achieve peak performance. It’s automatic. They don’t need to stop and think. Do you wonder how they do it? Do you wonder how you can do it?
Passion and perseverance are not enough
We are hardwired for survival and mediocrity, i.e., to avoid the worst, not to seek the best outcome. Evolutionary psychology tells us our ancestors lived in environments with relatively scarce resources that allowed for survival and successful reproduction, but not much else. Consequently, we’re wired to think that not losing what resources you’ve got is far more important than trying to acquire new additional resources. But this is no longer the case today, so we must strive to change our default settings and change our motivators. “Passion and perseverance are not enough. We need more. We need to get our “asses licked” (figuratively speaking) on a regular basis, and life will give us numerous “ass-kickings, according to Kotler. “The trick is to turn them into challenges! We must make risk-taking, grit, motivation and flow automatic,” Kotler says. It’s not easy though. Our well-meaning brains sabotage us because they’ve been conditioned to shield us from pain, failure and discomfort. But in today’s world, failure and discomfort are necessary for us to survive and thrive.
What got you here won’t get you there
Why do we need these ass-kickings, you might be asking? We need them to grow, according to Kotler. And that’s because what got you here won’t get you there. “Personal growth and development will get you to the starting line, but your fire in the gut is what gets you to the finish line,” Kotler stresses. But how do you find your ferocity (fire in the gut and ignite it)? First of all, you must want to. That single most important step is fully committing to the process. One way is to learn how to “attack” your own life, compete with yourself and win! Kotler says you can do this by turning curiosity into passion. List your passions and find intersections between them. Most likely you’ll find several different passions. Another way is to understand that the age of “one-act-lives” is over. “You must re-invent yourself over and over. It’s all about peak performance and altered states” according to Kotler. I mentioned an “extra gear” earlier, and you’ll need that extra gear to ignite your fire. There are no shortcuts, but controlling your time offers you a great start!
Gain autonomy over your time
Studies have shown that 87% of employees are actively disengaged at work. They have no passion for what they are doing. And what’s worse, they seem to slog along with little or no curiosity about how they can change this. Curiosity leads to passion and passion leads to purpose. Ask yourself “what do I think is impossible for me?” and go after it! Kotler advocates gaining autonomy over your time, setting your own schedule, controlling your sleep and using your biorhythms to your best advantage to be more productive. Set aside 15% to 20% of your time to “chase mastery” and focus on identifying “flow triggers.” Flow follows focus. Spending one hour a day to focus on your passion will lead to amazing things.
You sink to the level of your training
Exercise trains your state of mind and silences your “nagging inner critic.” Learn to be your best when you’re at your worst. Practice when you’re exhausted. Practice when you don’t want to. Practice when you’re hungry. Practice when your body screams “no more.” There’s an old SEAL saying (“borrowed” from the Greek poet and soldier, Archilochus): “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to your level of training.” Consequently, you must practice as realistically and as hard as possible. Charge straight at your fears and tackle them head-on. This requires a great deal of dedication, drive and determination. It’s not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It’s because we do not dare that they are difficult!
You can do it
Not only must you think it will happen, you must give it everything you have to make it happen! Only you can do this – no one can do this for you. There’s no “one size fits all” way to ignite your fire in the gut. What works for one person may not work for another. Just keep trying until you find what works for you! You can do it. And once you’ve ignited your fire in the gut, never stop fueling it. It will continue to motivate you to grow and push your boundaries – instead of hanging out in your comfort zone. Be sure to check out Steven Kotler’s “The Habit of Ferocity.” As Nelson Mandela said: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”