Bravery – How to play with fire

playing with fire

An English language idiom is:

“don’t play with fire, you might get burned”

Let’s flip that today, inspired by this quote from Steven Kotler:

“As children, we are taught not to play with fire, not how to play with fire.”

I saw this quote out of the blue the other day and it so struck me at that moment I wrote it down so as to come back to it and research the source.

I had not heard of Steven Kotler but then realised that I had his latest book on my Christmas list. I’ve asked family members to simply buy me a book of that list. It will add to the ridiculously high stack of books I have in front of me to read, I plan to spend much of the holiday season reading them!

That new book is called: Stealing Fire – How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

This book: “documents an underground revolution in peak performance that is rapidly going mainstream, fueling a trillion dollar economy and forcing us to rethink how we lead more satisfying, productive and meaningful lives.”

In an interview on his book page, Steven reflects on the seminal 2001 book by Jim Collins, “Good to Great” and the concept of “level 5 leaders”, noting that Collins recognised that what made a level 5 leader was a “black box”, we truly had no idea about that.

Steven calls himself a “flow junky” and is all about performance, creativity and looking into how humans can best access the ability to access flow for high performance as well as creative problem-solving.

Going back to the original quote:

“As children, we are taught not to play with fire, not how to play with fire.”

This is from his 2013 book “The Rise of Superman”, self-described as: “decodes the science of flow, an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” and “explores the upper limits of individual possibility”.

I too am passionate about exploring individual possibility. In fact, my personal purpose statement is “Making Potential Possible”, I love to bring curiosity and deep listening to others and help them see what potential is inside them, then to unlock that with and for them.

This does involve stretching beyond our perceived limits and limiting beliefs and if you search this site for terms like flow, belief, presence and more you’ll read innumerable references that talk about and around potential and performance.

To consciously play with fire, we do need to be taught tools to play with fire without getting burned, yet it starts out with one attribute that we all have, yet somehow often need support along the way in accessing and unlocking it.

That attribute is, I’m told, the core offering that distinguishes me from other people doing what I do.


So, are you ready to explore where you are brave, where you can bravely stretch and even learn to play with fire rather than avoid the fire? If you are, I’m curious to learn more.

Also published on Medium.

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