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Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work
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Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,711 Ratings  ·  293 Reviews

CNBC and Strategy + Business Best Business Book of 2017

"Steven and Jamie have done a wonderful job of balancing the promises, perils, and how-to prescriptions of engineering peak states such as 'flow.'" Tim Ferriss, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek

It’s the biggest revolution you’ve never heard of, and it’s hiding in plain si
ebook, 304 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Dey Street Books
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Thomas I had to force my way through - usually ten pages per sitting. I don't think it was worth it. You could do just as well reading Psychology Today…moreI had to force my way through - usually ten pages per sitting. I don't think it was worth it. You could do just as well reading Psychology Today articles.(less)

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Bernie Gourley
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in optimal mental performance and altered states of consciousness.
“Altered states of consciousness” conjures visions of rogue scientists hitting hallucinogens and then sealing themselves up in sensory deprivation tanks until they either have a breakthrough or a breakdown. This book may touch on such activities, but it’s about something else--something broader and in some sense, and yet narrower in another. What it’s about are the states of consciousness in which the part of the mind that is critical, cautioning, and always creating worst case scenarios fades i ...more
Sherrie Pilkington
***I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway***

This book doesn't really say anything. It gives a lot of anecdotes about people trying to reach ecstasis through drugs, religion, music, jumping out of planes, etc...but doesn't really tie it all together into a cohesive argument. Also, it desperately needs fact checking. For example, the authors claim that more copies of 50 Shades of Grey were sold than all 7 Harry Potter books combined. A quick Google search shows that to be false. It makes me quest
Frank Carnevale
Entertaining read, but lacks practical tips.

Maybe I came into this book with improper expectations. I kept waiting for practical steps on how to reap the benefits of ecstasis. Aside from some suggestions on how to schedule consciousness altering practices into one's life, the book lacked practical tips. I'm already convinced that a flow state is beneficial to me. I didn't need 98% of the book to convince me of that. If you need some convincing, this book is for you. If you need a practical roadm
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm a psychologist, and I was hoping this book would build on my knowledge of how to leverage empirically based principles of behavior science to enhance performance and well-being. Although I found the "altered state" information interesting (and aligned with work I'm familiar with about group dynamics and bonding), the main point of the book seemed to be: Do some drugs.

Now I'm not a puritan who casts judgment on the use of controlled substances, BUT I do think this advice is completely impract
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
People have known for a long time that there are a whole lot of ways to experience consciousness outside the every day way we experience it. Every society sorts these ways that are either acceptable or “beyond the pale” as it’s described in Stealing Fire. Up until recently, Western culture has been quite wary of anything that changes our experience of the world too drastically. Lately though, maybe since the 1950’s, this has started to shift, and in the last few years in particular, altered stat ...more
Charles Franklin
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST INTRIGUING BOOKS THAT I HAVE READ THIS YEAR! "Stealing Fire" is an exploration of man's journey through altered states of consciousness. The authors, Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler explore thins topic from a variety of perspectives that you wouldn't expect-mind gyms, exterme sports, neurotheology, Navy SEALS, mind control as well as the stuff that you would expect, mind-altering substances. The book isn't a straightforward and boring academic book, though, it's a story-dri ...more
Emma Sea
Aug 03, 2018 marked it as dnf
Shelves: pn-library
this book was highly recommended to me but my concentration continually skidded away like it was Teflon-coated. dnf at p. 109
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book on recommendation from podcast, and it sounded interesting - but from the cover and initial impressions, I thought it'd be another sort of self-help "using flow state or mindfulness to be a better worker bee." While I want to be good at my job, it wasn't my main interest, but when reading it anyway, this book presented so much more! Sure, it talks about efficiency and flow states, but it explores cultural backgrounds, different paradigms and approaches - from psychedelic ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
This is about altered mental states and how they improve life. It seems a little too much like a commercial for their web site and their classes. It doesn't tell you how to make any of this help in your regular, everyday suburban life. Like you can go to Burning Man, or climb mountains on the weekend with your extra time and money and then come back on Monday and everything will just be magically improved. It wasn't bad, but I didn't get out of this what I was hoping for.
Edgar Correa
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Excepcional!!! Estados alterados de memória, a virada, a zona, flow.... Na vida, nos esportes, nos negócios etc..

Como pessoas e equipes como os SEALS, esportistas, CEOS etc... estão atingindo estado alterados de consciência para atingir o sucesso.

Karsten Speckmann
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One needs an Open Mind for Flow and Inspiration...

A fascinating, yet controversial read.
This book may inspire or offend you. If you are more on the conservative or deeply spiritual side, parts of this most interesting book you might not like. I personally also wouldn't opt for doing the riskier things.
However, the collection of studies around "flow" or heightened mental states is fascinating. Group flow and meditation practice has been done for millennia, so there most probably is something to
Three and a half stars, really. This title deals with the benefits of attaining a 'flow' mentality, which the authors claim has long-lasting physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Science has already shown that many activities discussed within provide positive effects for us, such as meditation, prayer, and the liberating "rush" of performing extreme sports. Any act which unleashes an epiphanic episode provides us with a distinct and ultimately useful view of ourselves, and by extension of ...more
Alin Pinta
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An exuberant and vital study on the neurochemistry of 'flow' and 'altered states of consciousness' that brings a modern ontological perspective on what many of us still consider shamanistic mysticism.
Alecsandra Litu
It seems like this year the typical book that falls in my hands is the one that takes your beliefs and ideas about the world, laughs at them with that "Disney witch" laughter and then smashes them with a hammer into thousands of pieces. This is one of them.

As most of my friends know, until recently I was your basic "boarding school" type of girl: no drugs, no drinking, no smoking, no coffee… (Yes, I used to do other stupid stuff, just not those ones).

So this book puts things in a whole new per
Mar 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book talks about the latest trend in using 'alternative state of mind' to make ourselves more creative, train harder or just for fun. Basically getting high, and mainly through psychedelic drugs. He explained that all the Silicon Valley elites and Davos 0.01%-ters are doing it.

The author invoked Csikszentmihalyi's 'flow' states of high performing athletes and artists which feels timeless and blissful, and is also a high-performance state. Similarly, Buddhist monks can enter similar state o
Olena Pravylo
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Книга є каталогічним оповіданням про наявні досвіди і можливості для змінених станів свідомості - від екстатичних релігійний переживань до психоделічних трипів і корпоративних командних проектів. Виклики та загрози змінених станів, як то секти нового взірця чи загибель спортсменів-екстрималів, не зупиняють людей від пошуку "кайфу" розчиненої самості, позачасовості, легкості, насиченості. Автори пропонують багато відсилок на різноманітні книги, фільми, дослідження у різних галузях людського і тва ...more
Lukasz Nalepa
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-work
Wow... I can't remember previous book that made me think so much. Very, very intriguing lecture. Personally for me, the best part was beginning of the book, where most of the ideas and assumptions were introduced. I was moved to the level of really pittying the fact, that I'm not i.e. working for Google, living in California and Rave culture with a Burning Man festival is just something I can read about in such books :)

But seriously, It got me really consider meditation, mindfulness and impact t
Jonathan Lu
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book by the founders of the flow genome project on a topic that has consumed my mind for the last 2 years. This book presented greater background, context, and summaries of research (70+ pages of footnotes! this book is incredibly well researched) for me, a wannabe human performance junkie. I've dabbled heavily in meditation, lucid dreaming, and technological stimulation through tDCS, tACS, and gamma wavelength stimulation... I'm starting now to try a few nootropics, but have never h ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recently-read
“Some revolutions begin with a gunshot, others with a party."
Brad B
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Stealing Fire opens with a story from ancient Greece, so surely that proves what an important book it is. The anecdote is about the mysterious, psychoactive beverage kykeon and its use during the time of Socrates. While the authors acknowledge the probable presence of the mind-altering substance ergot, they also claim “uncovering the ingredients of kykeon has become a Holy Grail kind of quest.” These guys should really learn about Wikipedia, or any of the many web sites that describe the ingredi ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an interesting and quick read about how states of selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness, and richness (STER) can be achieved through various means and activities. As one may expect, many of these states are either unachievable due to the absence of skill or illegal due to federal and state drug laws. If you have any interest in the boundless nature of the human consciousness, I would recommend picking this up, but don't expect to get much in the way of advice.
Wojtek Erbetowski
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
As author brings Maslow's hammer: when the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. I think that the author felt under this trap as well, seeing key role of extasy in too many domains.
On the other hand, I've got a variety of interesting stories to share, thanks to the book (especially on Burning Man).
Overall - 2 stars, as I don't really know if it will influence my life in any way.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The sociocultural importance of this book far outweighs the depth or technical accuracy of its commentary. You can find much more extensive and precise descriptions of each of the fields it covers, but what this book brings together is a holistic portrayal of a movement spanning many communities and activities. I feel this is an extremely important milestone on the path to gaining widespread acceptance of non-ordinary states of consciousness.
Karel Baloun
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Flow, ecstasis, altered states.. those are very important psychological and physiological topics, since we are all deeply interested in optimizing and maximizing human potential and achievement. With the access that fame has provided Kotler, to the best and strangest as he teaches creativity and achievement workshops, and many of who are present in this book via interviews (and maximally built up for effective name dropping) he could have done something much more amazing on this important topic. ...more
Kai Fawn
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I REALLY wanted to give this book a more positive review. But, as others have noted, it has some very basic issues... and one very significant character flaw for me as a female reader (oooo, foreshadowing).

First, there is little in terms of practical applicability. Yes, hedonic calendar in the last chapter, I hear you. There is also a final page directing us to the Stealing Fire book's website for additional tools. These tools are all offered as "bonuses" to a package purchase of the book, so l
Margaret Lozano
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the book. Was it a bit vague? Yes. But it was also fascinating material, peppered with lots of cool anecdotes. As someone who has never taken psychedelics, I'll definitely admit I do love reading about them. Or hearing people talk about them.

One small thing: what's the deal with Burning Man? Seriously!? Clearly, given the hyperbolic language people use to describe it, in obviously missing out on something huge. Does anyone feel like it lives up to the hype?

I really hope that p
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
The book is a wide-ranging overview of many up-to-the-moment researches, field studies, and personal experiences about "Flow" consciousness. Included is some interesting history in the "quantified self" movement. The book's a very good summary of some of the newest topics in consciousness by the founders of the Flow Genome Project, who aspire to study and reproduce the personal conditions for an individual's flow. The book also introduces the reader to the newer packaging of the idea of "embodie ...more
Cristiana Lupu
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
They say some books come to you when you most need them. I think it’s the same with this book. It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. It does deal with a very interesting subject - alternate states of consciousness or extasis. Basically, it deals with the origins and implications of one of the greatest drivers in today’s society, other than the drive for food, water and sex - namely the need to get out of our minds. Whether we do it through gaming, reading, watching visual art, u ...more
Phil Thoden
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Informative read about tapping into the state of mind known as Ekstasis and harnessing the ‘brain flow’ opportunities therein. I think everyone experiences this 'in the zone' place, though in varying degrees of frequency and depth. The authors provide an informed articulation of this powerful experience and share many practical examples of its manifestation. Not as scientific as other brain books, perhaps, but very accessible and definitely enlightening.
Agnė Svetnickaitė
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio
This books briefly goes through story of how people try to alter their minds and go deeper into the state of ecstasy and how does it help to achieve more in life.
The topic itself isn't my favorite one, but I was expecting more explanations from neurology side or some good advice how to focus without drugs. However, focus on drugs is really heavy here with some short additions that yoga or meditation can help as well.

Not my cup of tea or, saying in the language of the book, not my pill of extasy.
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Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and co-founder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include the non-fiction works "The Rise of Superman," "Abundance," "A Small Furry Prayer" "West of Jesus," and the novel "The Angle Quickest for Flight." His work has been translated into more than 30 languages. His articles have appeared in ...more
More about Steven Kotler

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“Tell me what you value and I might believe you,” management guru Peter Drucker once said, “but show me your calendar and your bank statement, and I’ll show you what you really value.” So” 3 likes
“The second is trickier: the person who knows what to do next is the leader. We’re entirely nonhierarchical in that way. But in a combat environment, when split seconds make all the difference, there’s no time for second-guessing. When someone steps up to become the new leader, everyone, immediately, automatically, moves with him. It’s the only way we win.” 1 likes
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