“Stealing Fire is a beautifully written, must-read for anyone interested in living up to their full potential. Kotler and Wheal have produced a user-manual for your hacking your brain to drive high performance.”
Founder of the X Prize, co-chairman of Singularity University, New York Times bestselling author
“Stealing Fire cracks the secret code of peak performance so that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results.”
Cdr. Mark Divine (USN Ret.)
New York Times best selling author, founder SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind
“Meticulously researched and innovatively conceptualized, Stealing Fire is not just a bible for the second psychedelic revolution (drugs not required), but a manual to getting more: out of your body, your mind, and your happiness.”
New York Times best-selling author of The Game and The Truth
"Stealing Fire is a fantastic book about the future of humanity and everything that we can become. Based on incredible stories and cutting edge data, it reveals how our brain and body can be optimized to its greatest potential."
MD., Director of research Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine and author How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain.
“The North Star we've been waiting for -- finally a distillation of the upper reaches of the human experience unveiled! I am so excited for this book to reach the world!”
Artist, futurist, host of National Geographic’s Brain Games
"Stealing Fire lays out exactly how to hack the brain—it’s an inflection point in our understanding of the human condition. Kotler and Wheal have taken a major bite out of the unknown. If you’re at all interested in knowing how your mind works, this is imperative reading!”
Founding executive director of Singularity University and bestselling author of Exponential Organizations.
Today, the biggest revolution you’ve never heard of is hiding in plain sight, and Stealing Fire blows the lid off the whole thing.
Over the past decade, Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk, Special Operators like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, and maverick scientists like Sasha Shulgin and Amy Cuddy have turned everything we thought we knew about high performance upside down.
Instead of grit, better habits, or 10,000 hours, these trailblazers have found a surprising short cut. They’re harnessing rare and controversial states of consciousness to solve critical challenges and outperform the competition.
New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler and high performance expert Jamie Wheal spent four years investigating the leading edges of this revolution— from the home of SEAL Team Six to the Googleplex, the Burning Man festival, Richard Branson’s Necker Island, Red Bull’s training center, Nike’s innovation team, and the United Nations’ Headquarters.
And what they learned was stunning: In their own ways, with differing languages, techniques, and applications, every one of these groups has been quietly seeking the same thing: the boost in information and inspiration that nonordinary states of consciousness provide.
Today, this revolution is spreading to the mainstream, fueling a trillion dollar underground economy and forcing us to rethink how we can all lead richer, more productive, more satisfying lives.
Driven by four accelerating forces— psychology, neurobiology, technology and pharmacology—we are gaining access to and insights about some of the most contested and misunderstood terrain in history.
Stealing Fire is a provocative examination of what’s actually possible; a guidebook for anyone who wants to radically upgrade their life.
See the authors in:
Introducing: The Authors of Stealing Fire
Who is Stealing Fire for?
Anyone––Actually No, NOT ANYONE
If you are prone to magical thinking, fundamentalism (of any stripe) fuzzy logic, general vagueness of purpose, or addictive or manic tendencies, like to follow leaders, don’t watch your parking meters and a host of other obvious caveats, this book may NOT be for you. In fact, it could rattle your cage, upset your apple cart, and even make your life worse. That doesn’t mean it won’t be waiting for you after you’ve battened down some of the aforementioned loose boards in your platform--but for now, check out 10% Happier, it just might be a better fit. Seriously.
Leaders & Entrepreneurs
Understanding and skillfully creating high-performing states of collective consciousness are essential skills for leaders of any stripe. We share ground-breaking research from the top business schools in the world, case studies of some of the best known entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on the planet, and the neuroscience of accelerated innovation, collaboration and creativity.
In his seminal business book Good to Great Jim Collins called that kind of super influential leadership “a black box” and suggested that shy of a cataclysmic life event (like cancer, an accident, bankruptcy or divorce) there was just no predicting how a leader could get to the top of their game. This book takes the lid off that black box and shows you exactly how to harness that expanded capacity for yourself and your team. No more trust falls, ropes courses or Successories posters, we promise.
Fire Stealers--crazy ones, misfits, rebels and trouble-makers--this book is about you and your crew. Complete with a forgotten origin story dating back to the mists of prehistory, filled with wild-ass anecdotes ranging from the CIA and DARPA, to Burning Man and Biohackers, if you already know what you’re part of, this is your manifesto, your tribal history, and your user manual, all in one.
While parts of this story may already live on your nightstand or bookshelf, we’re willing to bet that some parts will surprise, shock and delight you--this whole thing is way bigger than you thought. (and there’s plenty of hat tips and Easter Eggs stashed throughout to keep you on your toes :)
You know who you are. You’ve hung on to that surfboard or skateboard or ukelele long after they started collecting dust in the garage, just on the off chance you’ll get back to the Zone someday. You crank your favorite college soundtrack up to 11 when no one’s home, and maybe even down a beer (or three) while you’re at it. You couldn’t stand the writing in Fifty Shades of Gray (but read it anyway). You got tired of “just sitting there” meditation, but now you’re putting butter in your coffee and ice cubes in your bath.
Those fleeting moments you’ve spent outside yourself, connected to something bigger, are the North Stars of your life. Without them, you’d probably shrivel up and die, but you’ve always had a hard time explaining their appeal, and justifying them to everyone around you. You’ve refused to just “grow up” “get real” or “be serious.” Your guilty isolation is over. This book gives you permission and validation for what you’ve known in your bones all along.
The Confused Relations of Closet Ecstatics
Have a spouse, child, parent, coworker or partner who’s always insisted on marching to the beat of their own drum? Have you felt frustrated, challenged, or concerned by their seeming insistence on stepping out, blasting off, or searching within? Stealing Fire will give you the crash course education that you’ve been dying for, presenting blue-chip research from the top institutions in the world, clear frameworks to help you understand your own cognitive biases and prevailing cultural blindspots, an appreciation of the hidden logic in your loved one’s experimentation, the comfort of knowing how big and pervasive this movement is, and the calm and conviction that this time, with the right information and language, you might finally be able to have a real conversation with the person you care about so much. This book gives both of you the tools to have a more informed conversation with many more, safer and better options to choose from. (and who knows, you might even be persuaded to join them on their adventures)
Aging Baby Boomers (and their millennial offspring)
Did you get tired of waiting for the Age of Aquarius to arrive? Did you trade in your love beads and Birks for skinny jeans and hipster sneakers? Did watching that final episode of Mad Men make you all weepy with nostalgia (and trigger an irrepressible craving for a frosty bottle of Coca Cola?) Don’t worry! We’ve got your Ginsberg, Leary, Garcia and Kesey, (and MKULTRA and COINTELPRO) and we’ll raise you Silicon Valley biohackers, Oprah webcasts, Burning Man anarchists, fMRI research, and a handy guide on how to avoid cults and gurus (a little late for some, we know).
That revolution you started way back when didn’t fail, it just went underground for a few years, but the roots and shoots are thriving now, and mutating into some fascinating new variations as well. So if you’d like to rekindle those youthful flames, and put them in a bigger context, or “turn on” your twenty something kids to the bigger story you’re both a part of, look no further. As one of your generation’s finest, Paul Simon sang, “this is the story of how we begin to remember.”
Your Exclusive ‘Stealing Fire Bonus Bundle' Worth Over $197
With this bonus bundle learn the secret to lighting your own fire and living a life of flow—long after you finish reading the book. Discover how to calculate your own Altered States Economy to see how much you contribute to this revolution and create your own Hedonic Calendar to live by.
This Stealing Fire Bonus Bundle does not have a price because these courses and tools are not available anywhere else. The lessons within, however, are invaluable. And you will get instant access to them when you order your copy of this book today.
"The Victors Write the Scripts" Excerpt
In this ‘indie support only bonus’ learn how horseback riding is actually more dangerous than Ecstasy, how Franciscan Priests outlawing mushrooms led to native alcholism and eventually a mescaline fueled cultural revival, and why Apache shamans repressed rather than embraced the spread of peyote--no matter who's in charge, "state sanctioned states of consciousness" tend to rule the day, and knowing that dynamic is a key to understanding our contemporary revolution.
"Joan of Arc to the Nine Volt Spark” Excerpt
Where in you'll learn of the utterly strange and little known true story of the seventeenth century illiterate peasant girl Joan d'Arc, how temporal lobe epilepsy prompted her to see visions, hear angels and lead the French to an improbable victory in the Hundred Year's War, how neuroscientist Wilder Penfield cracked the code on Joan's mystical visions, and how DIYers today are replicating some of those experiences with little more than a Duracell battery and some electrodes. The formerly mystical has become simply technical.
Your Personalized Altered States Economy Calculator
So, if there's $4 trillion dollars getting spent every year by us all seeking to get out of our own heads, how much do you spend yourself? This calculator walks you through all of the obvious places you're sinking time and money into courting altered states, but also prompts you to consider some of the less obvious too. By the time you're done tallying it up, you'll have a solid working estimate to how much of your life energy you're spending in this domain--giving you some sobering perspective on Return on Investment, and some better options to reallocate your portfolio towards.
The Hedonic Calendar Tool
Once you learn to hack altered states of consciousness, the question ceases to be "isn't there more?" and rapidly becomes "How much is too much?" So that's where the Hedonic Calendar comes in--a personalized worksheet to help you identify and schedule all of your practices, from downward dogs and meditation, to ultramarathons and trips to the Amazon--here's a genius way to make the absolute most out of ecstasis without putting it in the ditch.
Step One: Order the Book Here
Step Two: Enter Your Email to Redeem Your Bonuses
The Frequently Asked Questions of Flow
(not really, it’s just extra stuff we want to tell you)
What the hell is ecstasis? Is that even legal?
We struggled for a long time before settling on a term that encompassed the territory we were discussing without being weighed down by excess cultural baggage. And ecstasis, which is the original Greek antecedent of words like “ecstatic” and “ecstasy” is, quite literally, a moment of stepping beyond oneself. So if you can get beyond the club drug references, it’s actually a pretty precise term for those moments beyond everyday waking awareness. We’ve narrowed it down further, to those states that share a neurobiological signature so there’s no fudging the details, but you can rest assured the ground we’re covering is bona fide (see, don’t you already feel smarter?). And there’s over fifteen thousand words of endnotes for you to peruse if you’re fired up.
When you say “altered” or “nonordinary” states of consciousness––what exactly are you talking about?
Glad you asked! Super specifically, those states that take us out of our everyday waking frame of mind to include what Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Stan Grof said were “characterized by dramatic perceptual changes, intense and often unusual emotions, profound alterations in the thought processes and behavior, [brought about] by a variety of psychosomatic manifestations, rang[ing] from profound terror to ecstatic rapture...There exist many different forms of NOSC; they can be induced by a variety of different techniques or occur spontaneously, in the middle of everyday life.” And for a no nonsense shortlist: meditation and contemplative states, athletically or creatively induced flow states (feeling “in the Zone”), smart tech induced states (like EEG, biofeedback, etc.) sexually induced states, group flow or communitas, and psychedelic compounds.
Is this book dangerous?
Only, as Terrance McKenna once cautioned, “if you fear death by astonishment.” Actually, hard to say for certain. We’ve been so close to it for so long, we’ve kinda lost perspective. But we will say this: it’s the craziest tale we’ve ever heard, and that’s a big part of what prompted us to push so hard to get it down in one place. It’s a veritable BBQ of sacred cows with an understated hint of rabble rousing, but it’s also an incredibly sober look at what’s possible for us as individuals and collectives, what’s at stake, and what to do about it. If someone felt that Catcher in the Rye had to be burned, though, we’d put this one on the kindling short list.
You say you wrote a “revolution?” well, you know...
We know, it sounds a little dramatic taken out of context, but we would (and do) make a fairly considered case that recent developments in how people are shifting their states of mind and basing their lives around those insights is pretty remarkable, and worthy of further attention. After all, we’re spending four trillion dollars a year to get out of our heads, something has got to be going on here!
And if you want to get all geeky intellectual-historian about it, we’d advance the case that just as the European Enlightenment of the eighteenth century (focusing on rational individualism) paved the way for democracy, civil rights, and scientific advancements, the Stealing Fire revolution today (focusing on post-rational collectivism) is letting us organize and mobilize in ways we’ve never been able to before. What happens next, is entirely up to us, but unlike in the past, the keys to the kingdom are now in everyone’s hands, and that’s gonna make it much harder to keep this thing on lock...
What about my swag/bonus/extra stuff?
What about it? You didn’t buy the book just to get the bennies, did you? Actually, we’re stoked to share those extras and even more excited for you to enjoy them--any questions you have about where to find ‘em, how to use ’em can be directly addressed at firstname.lastname@example.org And since we just brilliantly segued to talk about sharing and excitement, go back up and check out the cool extra bonus stuff if you get copies of this masterpiece into the hands of people around you. Who, You might ask? Well, skeptical partners/spouses, judgey parents or relatives, crypto-Puritanical coworkers or business partners, curious and experimental college kids--anyone whose life you think would be expanded and improved by wrapping their heads around this content.
I’m fired up!!! How do I join in, help out, follow up...
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs,” wrote civil rights activist Howard Thurman, “ask yourself what makes you come alive and go and do that, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” Our goal is to create an open source operating system (OS) for next-level consciousness and community. We believe it’s fast, stable and addresses many bugs and errors of prior apps. But don’t take our word for it, try these ideas out, adopt, adapt, modify and create (and report back, it’s how we all learn faster.) Email us at email@example.com to learn more.