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Get Into Your Creative Flow

Lesson 9 of 32

The Bannister Effect

Steven Kotler

Get Into Your Creative Flow

Steven Kotler

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Lesson Info

9. The Bannister Effect


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 How To Watch Duration:01:15
2 Introduction to Workshop Duration:06:12
3 What is Creativity Duration:04:58
4 Mapping the Creative Process Duration:02:57
5 The Creative Personality Duration:10:57
8 Reframing Duration:10:36
9 The Bannister Effect Duration:07:17
10 Flow Overview Duration:05:33
11 The Science of Flow Duration:13:31
12 Your Brain on Flow Duration:22:34
13 Your Flow Profile Duration:10:22
14 Flow Triggers Duration:08:41
16 Overview of the Flow Cycle Duration:03:39
17 The Struggle Phase Duration:05:05
18 Hacking the Grind Duration:11:14
19 Hacking the Mind Duration:12:00
20 Hacking the Most Duration:07:38
22 The Release Phase Duration:03:00
23 Release Triggers Duration:17:49
24 Build a Trigger List Duration:12:38
25 The MacGyver Method Duration:08:12
26 The Flow Phase Duration:05:42
27 The High Perch Experience Duration:08:52
28 Flow's Creative Trigger Duration:07:59
29 Minimal Feedback for Flow Duration:03:54
30 The Recovery Phase Duration:10:27
31 Post-Flow Visualization Duration:04:08

Lesson Info

The Bannister Effect

The most potent example of reframing that I can give you is what's known as the Bannister Effect, and if you've ever read Rye's Superman you've heard this story. So Roger Bannister, first man to break the four minute mile, ran a three minute, 54 second and .9 second mile. People thought it was an absolute impossible. There were op-eds written by doctors in the New York Times that said the first person who runs a four minute mile, forget the ticker tape parade, they're gonna need a hearse at the finish line. (coughs) And it took forever, took forever. If you look at mile times, it dropped like a half a second a decade for 70 years leading up to that four minute mile. But something funky happened. As soon as Roger Bannister ran that four minute mile, then a month, somebody else had run another four minute mile and had broken his time. Within three months, a couple of people had done it. Then five years, a teenager had done it. What the hell is going on, right? Running a four minute mile ...

still requires running a sub four mile. The physical challenge has not changed. All that changed is the frame we built around that challenge. What used to be impossible has become possible. The Bannister Effect is what this is called. This is how researchers refer to this. It means there is extremely tight coupling between our brain and our body. And to break that down, I'm gonna just read this to you so you don't have to read it. I won't do a lot of this today. This is the only long quote, but this is Mike Gervais kind of breaking down the Bannister Effect. "If you wanna understand the Bannister Effect, "you have to understand the brain tells stories. "When most hear about an impossible feat, "our first reaction is: 'Not real, no way, not possible.' "But we have a very strong need to make meaning "out of experience and this new reality forces us "to change our story. "We move to, 'That's crazy, far out, unreal.' "Pretty soon, we accept this new reality "and shift our paradigm further, "and this engages imagination. "We start imagining the impossible as possible. "What does impossible sound like? "What does it feel like? "What does it look like?" Where am I? "And we start to see ourselves "doing the impossible, that is the secret. "There is an extremely tight link "between our visual system and our physiology. "Once we can actually see ourselves doing the impossible, "our chances of pulling it off increase significantly." This is one of the reasons athletes practice visualization so much. Inventors, same thing. They see the impossible is possible, pull themselves towards it. All right, let's answer some questions. We do have some questions. I want to throw it out to our studio audience first. Any questions on what we touched on in this first module? If you do have one just grab a microphone, yeah in the back? Get on the mic, Mike (laughs) Yeah, this is going back to the seven agreements. I was wondering, so as creative types, a lot of times we're somewhat ephemeral, you know, kind of head in the clouds I don't know what you're talking about. (crowd laughs) Do you find that in some of those agreements it helps to have partnerships, surround yourself with people, you know, grounding forces, mentors, partners, people to help you with things like having your strategy with learning how to, you know, sharpen your arrows. All of these other things, how much do feel like we rely on other people for those things? It's a great question, and I think it's got a double-sided answer. The first portion of it is, absolutely. You're gonna need a support network. It's too hard; it's too difficult. You can't go solo as a creative for too long. There will be huge periods of being solo, but you are gonna need other people. Equally important, especially with flow work, especially with the stuff we're talking about today, you have to have your discussions with your partners, with the people you love, ahead of time. Even with your bosses, if you're gonna start doing this. Things are going to change. You're going to need long periods of uninterrupted concentration. You're gonna need to stay in your creative world a lot. You're gonna be difficult to be around sometimes, right? It may be good. You may feel on top of the world, and filled with energy, right? It still may be difficult. Have discussions ahead of time. If you're gonna start increasing the amount of flow in your life, these are high energy states, they will change you. You will start acting differently. You will start living differently, and you start being more creative, you gotta let the people in your life know what's going on, cause otherwise they're going to really start your changing, you're becoming somebody different. What happened to the person I fell in love with kind of thing. That person is going to change and grow, and it's going to happen, if you start applying this stuff we're talking about today, it's gonna happen fast, and they're gonna be big shifts. Have your conversations ahead of time. You need people in your life, but you have to let them know what's going on. Otherwise, bad things are gonna happen. Anybody else? Jared wants to know specifically what strategies creatives can use to reduce that external stimulus? You mentioned how the external stimulus for creatives can be really intense. Is there anything that people can do to kind of reduce that, any tactics you can give people? Well, I mean, I, you know curtains, earplugs Earplugs. Earplugs are big. In all honesty, like if you look at my office, my office has an amazing view. I've never seen it. (crowd laughs) The curtains are always closed. Gertrude Stein used to say "I love a room with a view. "I just want to sit with my back to it." Reducing stimuli, I mean, you know, when you sleep, put something over your eyes, you know, et cetera, et cetera. You really are gonna want to reduce stimuli sometimes. Anything else Chris? Yeah, I'll wrap up on this one here. This was from Vera. She had a quote and wants to get your take on it, but she says "They say a poet needs to be hungry "meaning most artists in the past created their best work "while living, while having to earn their living "via their art on the edge of financial survival." I know you kinda started things off with that story in Cleveland, but Vera wants to know "Can you comment on that statement? "Do you believe that, that a poet needs to be "hungry to create good art?" I think, and there are massive exceptions to this case, but I think being born with a lot of money is a disadvantage for a creative. Struggle is really really really helpful along the way. I think if it's too easy, cause this is too hard. This job is too hard. You have to really want it. You have to ache for it on a daily basis, and if you can do other things, if you have other options, they're gonna, sooner or later, this is gonna be too difficult. So I think the hardest, the hardest, the person in this room who has the biggest bank account right now, you're probably in the worst shape for being a successful creative overtime. It's just the way it is, cause it's just too hard. And if there are other options available, you will sooner or later take them. So, I don't think it's a fundamental, but I do think being born on third base is a tricky way if you really wanna be successful as a creative.

Class Description

Do you want to learn more about flow? Take the Free Flow Profile to find out if you are a Deep Thinker, Crowd Pleaser, Hard Charger, or Flow Goer.

If creativity is already core to your life, then this program is perfect for you. This could mean you’re a copywriter at an ad agency, a scientist hunting a breakthrough, a coder designing software, an entrepreneur dreaming up your next start-up, a writer aching to finish that novel or a landscape painter trapped in the life of an accountant — all that matters is that generating novel ideas (and putting those ideas out in the world in some form or another) is core to your life and purpose.

Why Does “Flow for Creatives” even matter?

  • You keep losing the battle to be innovative in the rush to be productive.

  • You have writer’s block or coder’s block or painter’s block and the thing you used to love most in your life has become a source of pain and frustration.

  • You have trouble managing your emotions and fear keeps getting in the way of your good ideas.

  • You have trouble sustaining momentum on projects and tend to quit early rather than to finish what you started.

  • You have no idea how to gain access to groundbreaking insights and ideas when you need them most.

  • You don’t actually believe creativity is trainable.

  • You’re numbing yourself with substances and placating yourself with distractions as a way to ignore the fact that you’re not living up to your creative potential.

  • You get lost in the fixing to get ready phase, and never get down to business.

  • You keep bashing into creative walls but never breaking thru.

  • Your emotions keeping getting in the way of your desired outcomes. Fear of failure keeps you from committing to projects; perfectionism keeps you from making your work public.

Flow For Creatives can help.

It’s like an inspiration turbo-boost training program. It’s practical, experiential and experimental. You learn a new idea about Flow and Creativity, apply it to whatever problem you’re trying to solve, see what happens, then make it your own.

And, did you know…

  • When in Flow, your creative problem-solving abilities can spike by over 400 percent.

  • Research done at Harvard shows that the heightened creativity produced by Flow can outlast the state by a day, sometimes two—suggesting that Flow actually trains the brain to think more creatively over the long haul.

  • Creatives are more prone to depression than most people, but an understanding of the process can protect against this liability.

  • Creativity tops the list of 21st-century skills—meaning those skills that are essential for thriving in the modern world—yet 75 percent of people think they’re not living up to their creative potential.

  • The baseline brainwave state produced by Flow is also the ready condition for “Ah-ha” insight, meaning being in the zone makes you primed for breakthrough insight.

  • Fear blocks creativity, while Flow resets the nervous system, calming us down so we can avoid burnout and gain access to much-needed insight.

  • Unless you know how to train the brain properly, most people tap into their deepest creative potential at age 5.

  • Frustration is actually a built-in component of the creative process—it’s a sign that you’re moving in the right direction not a sign that you’re going about it all wrong.

Life is better than ever and we are feeling worse than evener. We are neurotic, stressed, unmotivated and it’s literally killing us. This class is for anyone that is serious about staying in their highest performing state.

*Warning: this instructor occasionally uses strong language. Viewer discretion advised*


Jeremy Richardson

I've watched and participated in many webinars and online classes, and this was by far one of the best. The depth and breadth of information that Steven covers in this class is not only really important, but he structures it in a way that is engaging and most importantly: PRACTICAL. I'm coming out of this with a clear list of ways to improve my ability to get into Flow while accomplishing all of my creative endeavors. I highly recommend this to anyone who would like to do the same!


This is amazing. Steven is hitting so many pain point for me about reframing my fear. He is also an amazing presenter. Thank you, Steven! I am excited, I am excited, I am excited!

Isaac Freed

Utterly mind blowing. Wow. A few hours listening to Steven Kotler felt more like a few days. He has done his research, and offers so much practical application advice that I will review this material several times. Well worth it, and highly recommended. Thank you, Creative Live!