Limitless — Book Summary and Application

Here are my key takeaways from the book Limitless by Jim Kwik. The book is about how to reach your full potential, which Kwik views as basically limitless. The author is a renowned brain expert, so this book looks at optimizing your brain and mind.

Here is a clickable table of contents to help you navigate this article.

Why did the author write this book?

What are the main ideas of the book?

Part 1: Mindset

  1. Types of Genius

  2. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

  3. The 7 Lies of Learning

Part 2: Motivation

  1. Three Lies About Motivation

  2. The Formula for Motivation

  3. Purpose

  4. Energy

  5. Small Simple Steps

  6. Flow State

Part 3: Methods

  1. Focus

  2. Study

  3. Memory

  4. Speed Reading

  5. Thinking

How have I applied the book to my life?

What is my opinion on the book?

Advice for where to start:

If you have any negative or limiting self-talk, start with Part 1: Mindset. If you struggle to take action, start with Part 2: Motivation. If you are a student who wants to learn faster for school, I suggest you jump straight to Part 3: Methods.

Why did the author write this book?

As a child, Kwik struggled with learning due to a childhood brain injury. It wasn’t until university that he finally started devoting effort to learning how to learn. After seeing drastic improvement to his learning ability, he dedicated his life to teaching others how to learn more effectively. He grew up believing he had many limitations, and he knows how crippling that feels. He hopes to help others see that they can be limitless so that they can contribute their full potential to the world. He’s been doing that for years through consulting, speaking engagements, online courses, and his Kwik Brain podcast. He wrote this book to consolidate all his teachings from his past work to create an accessible book for the mass public.

What are the main ideas of the book?

Kwik believes that there’s three keys to becoming limitless: Mindset, Motivation, and Methods.

Part 1: Mindset

He defines mindset as

The deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions we create about who we are, how the world works, what we are capable of and deserve, and what is possible.

He gives the analogy of a baby elephant that’s tied to a stake in the ground. As a baby, the elephant doesn’t have enough power to pull the stake up, so it eventually stops trying. By the time the elephant is grown up, it has more than enough power to overcome the stake, but it doesn’t try because of what it learned as a baby. People’s limiting mindsets are like that stake.

To unlimit our mindset, Kwik talks about

  1. Types of Genius

  2. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

  3. The 7 Lies of Learning

1.1 Types of Genius

In school, we learned that smart people get good grades. The problem is, people are smart in different ways, and school doesn’t measure all of the ways. Kwik mentions four types of geniuses:

  1. Dynamo Genius: They have amazing creativity and ideas. Example: Shakespeare.

  2. Blaze Genius: They have an extraordinary ability to connect with people. Example: Oprah.

  3. Tempo Genius: They have the ability to see the big picture and stay on course towards that grand vision. Example: Nelson Mandela.

  4. Steel Genius: They are great at details. Example: Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google)

Kwik recommends people to identify what type of genius they have and to evaluate their ability from that perspective rather than from the book-smart perspective.

1.2 Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Next, Kwik talks about overcoming our limiting beliefs through three steps.

Step 1: Name Your Limiting Belief. For example, you might think you’re not good company to others, that you’re not interesting. You can name it the “I’m not enjoyable to be around” belief.

Step 2: Get to the Facts. The key here is to not focus on how you felt but what actually happened. For example, you might have felt horrible speaking in a group. But what happened? Did anyone say you’re boring? Did anyone tell you go to away? Probably not.

Then ask yourself, “How much of my perceived poor performance was because my self-talk just wouldn’t leave me alone?”

Step 3: Create a New Belief. Your limiting belief probably used words like “always” or “never”. For example, “I always screw up” or “I can never do well in school.” Of course, no one always or never does anything. It’s just your emotions exaggerating things.

So create a new, accurate belief to replace the limiting one. You can realize that there were times you did decent on tests, so you can create the belief that “I don’t always get an A, but when I work hard, I increase my chances of success.

Another example: “I may not be the most charismatic person, but I’m certainly fine enough to be part of a social conversation.

1.3 The 7 Lies of Learning

When Kwik uses the word “lie”, he means Limited Ideas Entertained.

Lie 1: Intelligence is fixed.

New Belief: My intelligence can grow if I believe it can grow and then I put in the work to grow it.

Lie 2: We only use 10% of our brains.

New Belief: I am learning to use my whole brain in the best way possible.

Lie 3: Mistakes are failures.

New Belief: Mistakes are signs that you are trying something new, and they are opportunities to learn. Life isn’t about comparing yourself to anyone else, it’s about comparing yourself to who you were yesterday. There’s no such things as failure, only failure to learn.

Lie 4: Knowledge is power.

New Belief: Knowledge has to be acted on. Knowledge combined with action equals power.

Lie 5: Learning new things is very difficult.

New Belief: When you learn how to learn, the challenge of learning new things can be fun, easier, and enjoyable.

Lie 6: The criticism of other people matters.

New Belief: It’s not other people’s job to like, love, or respect me. That’s my job.

Lie 7: Genius is born.

New Belief: Genius is not born; it is made through deep practice.

Part 2: Motivation

He defines motivation as

“the purpose one has for taking action. The energy required for someone to behavior in a particular way.”

In this section, Kwik goes over

  1. The three lies about motivation

  2. The formula for motivation

  3. Purpose

  4. Energy

  5. Small Simple Steps

  6. Flow State

2.1 Three Lies About Motivation

Lie 1: Motivation is fixed.

Truth: You can increase your motivation.

Lie 2: You have to enjoy something to be motivated to do it.

Truth: You simply need to have a strong enough reason to do something, even if you don’t enjoy doing it.

Lie 3: Motivation is something I either have or don’t have.

Truth: Motivation can be created.

2.2 The Formula for Motivation

Motivation = Purpose X Energy X Small Simple Steps

We need a clear purpose to that we know why we need to act. Then we need sufficient energy to take action. Finally, small simple steps prevent you from getting paralyzed or overwhelmed while acting.

2.3 Purpose

To get clear on your purpose, articulate clearly in writing why you need to do what you need to do. Put in other words, ask yourself, “Why MUST I do this?