Do you want to master the art of impossible?

There are two types of impossible situations. With a capital I, one is impossible. Think of landing on the moon or running a four-minute mile as examples of “impossible” feats that shatter assumptions and expectations.

Then there’s the impossibility of using a lowercase i. On a personal scale, this sort of impossible still exists beyond your wildest thoughts. It’s the stuff you believe you’ll never be able to do. It could be anything from starting a business to pursuing a musical career to simply doing what you enjoy for a living.

Fortunately, neither of these “impossibilities” is true. There is a scientifically proven strategy for doing the seemingly impossible. Motivation, learning, creativity, and flow are the four skills that make up this skill set. The book The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler is focused about deciphering and applying that formula.

There’s no denying it: your path to the impossible will be lengthy and arduous. You’ll need gasoline to keep going on a lengthy travel, just like you would on any other. You need physical fuel, such as food and sleep, but you also need psychological fuel, or drive.

Motivation, or drive, pushes us to take action. But what is it that motivates us in the first place? It’s all about living in a world with limited resources from an evolutionary standpoint. Evolution’s approach of motivating us to either battle one other for resources or utilize creativity to create additional resources is called drive.

However, there is more to drive than just one thing. Fear, curiosity, and passion are some of the motivators. All of these provide psychological fuel, which you can use to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

The essential takeaway is that intrinsic motivators push us to achieve the seemingly impossible. Extrinsic and intrinsic psychological drivers are the two types of psychological drivers. Money, fame, food, and sex are examples of extrinsic drivers. They exist outside of ourselves, and we pursue them in order to win the evolutionary survival game. Intrinsic drivers, on the other hand, are those that exist within us. Curiosity, passion, meaning, and purpose are psychological and emotional notions.

Extrinsic drivers only inspire us to a certain level, according to psychological study. Once we have enough money to pay for food, clothing, and shelter, they get weaker. The internal motivators take control when we’ve addressed these basic necessities.

Curiosity, passion, purpose, autonomy, and mastery are the five most potent intrinsic motivators. You can stack them so that they feed off one another, allowing you to do the seemingly impossible.

Let’s begin with curiosity, the initial intrinsic drive in the stack. Making a list is a good place to start. Make a list of 25 things that pique your interest. What would you like to read a book about or listen to a lecture about? Make your statement as specific as possible. Don’t merely jot down football or food, for example. Rather, jot down the particular mechanics and moves required to play left tackle, or the possibility of grasshoppers becoming a key human food source.

Now that you’ve made a list of topics you’re interested in, it’s time to look for overlap among the items on it. This will assist you in identifying your passions, which will serve as your next intrinsic incentive. When you pursue your interests, your brain rewards you with modest amounts of dopamine, a feel-good hormone. Dopamine is a vital component of drive; it gets you excited, engaged, and more likely to keep doing what you’re doing. However, satisfying your curiosity only provides a modest amount of dopamine, which is insufficient to allow you to achieve the impossible in the long run.

What you need is passion, which boosts dopamine levels significantly. Looking for intersections among your interests can help you discover your passions. Let’s say one of your fascinations is the football position of left tackle. Another possibility is to use grasshoppers as a long-term food source. Combining these two interests, your passion may be to discover a way to use grasshoppers as a source of energy for athletes.

You’re increasing your engagement and identifying interests when you mix topics on your curiosity list like this. More dopamine is released as you begin to explore and act on your passions.

The main takeaway is to choose a niche that engages all of your intrinsic motivators. You can start exploring your passions after you’ve recognized them by reading articles, listening to podcasts, or viewing videos on the subject. This will help to pique your interest and allow you to delve further into them every day. This is significant because it allows your brain to digest the data. Then it’s time to turn them into something useful. That desire to do things that are important not only to you, but also to others.

The bit about “other people” is more essential than you might think. That’s because the brain is biologically neurochemically wired to care for and connect with others. You fulfill that fundamental drive when you have a purpose, and your brain rewards you for it. Reactivity diminishes in some brain regions, such as the amygdala, while increasing in others, such as the right insular cortex. As a result, you’ll be more resilient to stress, as well as more motivated and productive.

So, how do you discover your calling? Get your pen and paper out and make a new list. This time, make a list of 15 major issues that you are concerned about, such as world hunger, poverty, or climate change. Then look for locations where one or more of these concerns interact with your hobbies. Any intersection has the ability to serve multiple purposes.

Finally, there are two more intrinsic motivators to consider: autonomy and mastery. Autonomy simply refers to the ability to follow your goals without interference. Try setting aside at least 15% of your day for yourself to grow it. This will help you become more motivated.

Finally, there’s mastery, or the desire to improve at what you do. To use this motivation, you must enter a state of mind known as flow by psychologists. But hold on a second. You’ll need to add a couple more tools to your toolkit before you can attain flow.

You’ve uncovered your hobbies and figured out what you want to do with your life. Now, how do you summon the courage to follow through on them regularly over time? The key is to set explicit objectives. Gary Latham and Edwin Locke, psychologists, conducted a study in the late 1960s that demonstrated the impact of goals. There were two groups of lumberjacks in there. One group was given the task of gathering as much wood as they could. The other group was given precise quotas to meet. There were no financial incentives offered to either group. What’s the end result? The quota-holding lumberjacks harvested significantly more wood than the non-quota-holding group.

Those findings were eventually corroborated by dozens more investigations in a variety of industries. Goals are clearly our roadmap if inherent drivers power our quest for the impossible. The main point here is to break down the seemingly unattainable into manageable chunks.

Big goals, according to Latham, result in the greatest boosts in motivation and production. These are referred to as HHGs (high, hard goals). They are the most important steps on your path to reaching your goal. Getting a nutrition degree or starting a business, for example, could be your HHG.

It can take years to reach HHGs. As a result, you’ll need smaller daily goals along the route. These are what we’ll call clear goals; they help you get closer to your HHGs. Dopamine will be released when you achieve your clear objectives. Even so, never-ending perseverance can be difficult. That’s where grit comes in, the determination to persevere through years of toil. Some people are born with a tougher exterior than others. If that isn’t you, don’t worry. It’s a skill that you can hone.

Working around your natural energy levels is one approach to create grit. Willpower is a key component of grit, and it deteriorates over time. So plan your most challenging daily task for first thing in the morning, when your energy levels are at their highest. Then, in order of decreasing importance, continue with your chores.

Your brain rewards your perseverance with dopamine as you fulfill goals. Grit will become more accessible — and the seemingly impossible will become more achievable. Intrinsic motivators, ambitions, and fortitude will inspire you to achieve the seemingly unattainable. Motivation, on the other hand, is far from the conclusion of the story. Until the next post, take care.

Check out my related post: How to make better decisions at work?

Interesting reads:


  1. Charlee: “Our Dada says one time they had an electrician come out to install a whole house fan in the attic. The electrician’s business cards said ‘Specializing in the Impossible’.”
    Chaplin: “Unfortunately the layout of the attic and the beams was such that he was not able to install a fan.”
    Charlee: “So we guess that guy needs new business cards.”


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