Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space and into the hearts and minds of millions across the globe. His message – our message – was simple: Push boundaries. Behind the scenes, a team of people worked for more than seven years to execute the feat. We hired scientists from NASA and worked with the best trainers and equipment manufacturers to reach our unparalleled goal. One of our most critical tasks was working one-on-one with Felix to overcome the psychological strain of being confined in a pressure suit, within a small capsule so that he could push forward and do the unthinkable, captivating and motivating the world to dream beyond what they deem possible.
My focus, the Red Bull High Performance Program, sits at the intersection of sports and science and is comprised of a robust team of experts from physiologists to psychologists who focus on developing elite sports performance models. We have long been working with world-class athletes, musicians, explorers, military members, spiritual leaders and others to boost performance through unconventional training.
By studying best-in-class practices, we aim to push performances beyond the expected. We call this “hacking talent.” When we sent athletes to South America’s unforgiving Patagonia mountains for two brutal, limit-testing weeks with retired U.S. Navy Seals, we brought along spiritual advisor Jimmy Barts to utilize ancient and proven tenets in guiding the athletes as they pushed through their own limits.
We took athletes from the disciplines of wakeboarding, skiing and surfing and had them train alongside masters who mix circus arts with street entertainment. This completely different and unexpected adventure tapped into their emotional sides, and required a new type of performance from them. Suddenly, their next competitions seemed far easier than those few days they spent out of their comfort zones.
Ancient Samurai warriors found that beyond the physical sword-fighting practice, equally as effective was focusing inward through meditation and soul-seeking. We apply this thinking to our athletes and musicians and artists. We recently challenged our female surfers to survive in extreme environments. In holding their breath underwater for long periods, under careful watch, we guided them to be comfortable and even embrace the solitary environment as they traveled to new depths.
We have now embarked on a new journey dubbed “hacking creativity.” We brought together a team of scientists to collaborate with creative masters of their own crafts from artists and engineers to poets and magicians. Together, they are studying what creativity is, what it means, if it can be learned, and how it can be applied. Our goal is to use the findings in improving creative athletic performance, and passing along a framework to share to anyone and everyone who could benefit. Using state-of-the-art technology data analytics, we plan to merge the conversations from the masters into platforms that enable people around the world to contribute their own insights – creating a global framework to study creativity and share insights and findings for varied applications.
The approach of our Red Bull High Performance Program, with proven results, is to understand deeply and use passionately techniques from varied disciplines that lift a performance from great to superior, thus shattering the limits of human potential. We study how the best in the world perform and we share those techniques to move the needle. We aim to have an open forum where everyone can participate and together we can impact goals in a highly transferable way. The simplest lesson we’ve learned: Once you’re comfortable, change it – step up and out of your comfort zone to gain results.