189: Jim Kwik – Becoming Limitless


“If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.”
– Jim Kwik

Hey guys, welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (formerly NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

Before we get into the episode, I want to ask you a question: Have you ever wanted to become limitless? It’s an easy question, right? Why wouldn’t you want to be limitless? Imagine the kind of Creative Alchemy you could produce if you unlocked your full potential and kept growing in your abilities! Today, I’ve got a brilliant man who’s going to help you expand your mind and optimize your brain. 

I’m happy to have my friend and brain coach Jim Kwik on today’s show! This will actually be the second time in which I’ve had Jim on the show. He first appeared in Episode 26, so make sure to check that out once you’re done with this episode.

Jim is an absolutely brilliant guy, and his teachings will completely change your art and your life. Today, we’re going to cover some of the lessons from Jim’s new book, Limitless, including how to upgrade your brain, how technology can hurt your mental health, and how to shift from survival mode to thrival mode. You’re going to learn a ton of helpful tips and advice today, so let’s dive in!

Who Is Jim Kwik?

Jim Kwik is an author, founder and CEO of Kwik Learning, and host of the Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik podcast, where he gives expert weekly advice to improve yourself. He also teaches tools for speed reading and improving memory to various celebrities and actors, including Hugh Jackman, Jim Carey, and Will Smith. 

Jim has such an inspiring background. After experiencing a brain injury as a young child, Jim developed a learning disability. He fell behind in his schooling, and he wasn’t able to read for much of his childhood. That all changed when he discovered the power of the mind and how to improve it. Jim spent years researching and optimizing his brain, and from his experience optimizing himself, he now teaches expert courses on how to boost your brain and unlock your potential. 

Jim recently released his new book Limitless: Upgrade You Brain, learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life. In his book, Jim uses his 28 years of teaching as a brain coach to advise readers on how to upgrade their brain and memory. Guys, this book will completely change your life. I absolutely loved it, so make sure to pick up a copy here. You’re definitely going to want this book after you hear all of Jim’s helpful and fascinating advice on today’s episode!

Upgrading Your Brain

We kicked off our interview by discussing the purpose of Jim’s new book and his teachings. His main focus of the book is teaching tools for upgrading your brain and improving your learning abilities. Jim observed that very people focus on improving their minds:

“More people upgrade their phones than they do their brain. … [Limitless is] a guide to be able to really tap your full human potential.”
– Jim Kwik

You can use Jim’s principles of advancing your brain to improve your life and reach whatever goals you have. Upgrading your mind can move you closer to your financial goals, relationship goals, career goals, and even artistic goals! 

People often want to improve themselves, but they feel trapped because they’re unsure where to start. So how can we start improving our brains to reach our goals?

“The key [is] to get out of … metaphorical boxes. … And so there [are] three dimensions that keep us in that box. These three elements, I call them ‘the three M’s,’ and they’re the three M’s of becoming limitless.”
– Jim Kwik

Here are the three areas that we need to work on in order to break out of our confinement and become limitless. 

#1. Mindset: To become limitless, you need to upgrade your mindset and the beliefs that you have about yourself and what you’re capable of. 

“You could have a negative belief saying, ‘I’m not capable of achieving any more in terms of my income or more where I’m progressing right now.’ … Maybe it might not be a capability issue, but your mindset is, ‘I don’t feel like I deserve it.’ Or maybe you think it’s not even possible. … I always tell people, ‘If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.'”
– Jim Kwik

We need to stop limiting our mindsets. If we tell ourselves that we’re incapable of something or that we’re not good enough, our beliefs are going to make that become a reality. We need to get out of our own way and start believing in our ability to do whatever it is that we want to accomplish. 

#2. Motivation: You can have positive beliefs about yourself and your potential, but if you don’t have the motivation to take action, you’ll always be hindered. 

“If you’re not motivated, you’re not getting out of that box. … [In the book,] I give a three-part formula for how to access sustainable motivation and drive for the rest of your life.”
– Jim Kwik

Motivation isn’t about getting psyched up about something only to then return to your default state. How many times have you been excited to do a project, but you slowly lost your motivation and never completed the project? We need to develop long-lasting motivation that persists in order to become limitless.

#3. Methods: You could have all the motivation in the world and have a limitless mindset, but if you don’t develop the right methods, you’ll still be limited. Don’t stay locked in old methods when it comes to achieving your goals. For example, if you’re using old methods in negotiation or management, your results will be limited because you haven’t adapted to the most effective methods. Jim observed that this is especially common when it comes to reading and learning:

“You could have the greatest mindset and motivation, but you learn [and] you’re reading the way you read when you were seven years old, or you’re repeating things over and over again using road memory. Those are very old methods.”
– Jim Kwik

If you’re locked in outdated learning methods, you’ll always be limited when it comes to developing your mind and improving yourself. Thankfully, Jim’s book gives exceptional insights into how to improve your reading and learning abilities. 

Having all three Ms mindset, motivation, and methods is the key to breaking out of your limitations and accomplishing whatever you want! 

How Technology Can Hurt Your Mental Health

A crucial part of realizing our full potential is addressing and improving our mental health. Jim and I discussed how a major detriment to our mental health is technology. Technology can be a major tool for growth, but it can also greatly hinder our emotional and mental health. 

“Technology is a tool for us to use. But if the technology is using us, then who becomes a tool? And it’s accelerating what I call these ‘horsemen’ that [are] really attacking our mental health.”
– Jim Kwik

In our interview, Jim outlined the four major threats to our mental health that result from our society’s increased use of technology. 

#1. Digital Deluge Information Overload: Do you ever obsessively ingest the news or information online to the point in which it’s negatively affecting your mood? Right now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the news and all of the information that we take in. 

“That information [overload] is called information anxiety. And so talk about mental health, higher blood pressure, compression of leisure time, more sleeplessness because people can’t sleep because there’s so much. We’re drowning in information.”
– Jim Kwik

We can fight the digital deluge by becoming better learners so that we’re not so overwhelmed by all of the information that we take in, and we can also unplug ourselves from the excess news and information that we receive from our phones and other devices. 

#2. Digital Distraction: Technology keeps us constantly distracted because of the instant gratification that we receive when we scroll through social media and other sites.

“It’s giving us this dopamine short term high that is training our distraction muscles. And it’s going along the learning and motivation centers of our nervous system. And it’s making us addicted to our devices.”
– Jim Kwik

Have you ever found yourself hooked on your phone and spending hours of your time just scrolling and staring at memes? When using the internet, the dopamine we release makes it incredibly easy to get distracted and become unmotivated. It can come to the point in which we’re so distracted by our devices that we have difficulty living in the moment because we’re so attached to our phones.

#3. Digital Dementia: Digital dementia deals with the fact that we’re becoming so dependent on our devices that we’re no longer developing certain parts of our brains. 

“We don’t have to exercise our brain[s] in meaningful ways anymore. Meaning that your devices keep all the information for you. Think about your calendars, your to-do’s, and it’s doing simple math for us.”
– Jim Kwik

Do you remember when you had to memorize phone numbers or know how to read a map to get to a destination? Our memory and internal navigation systems are decreasing because of our dependence on technology. It’s even hurting our critical thinking skills. You need to make a conscious effort to develop your memory and thinking abilities by not being too reliant on technology.

#4. Digital Depression. Depression is incredibly common in our society, and one of the factors contributing to depression is everyone comparing themselves to others on social media. 

“We live in a comparison culture where you could be scrolling through and not feel good about yourself because you’re looking at this … incredibly curated [and] filtered highlight reel of other people’s lives. And I think one of the biggest fears we have in our life is that we’re not enough.”
– Jim Kwik

Have you ever found yourself comparing your social life or career success to your social media friends’ lives? People usually only post great moments on social media, so it’s easy to compare your life to others and feel inadequate. Overcoming comparison culture is such an essential part of our internal wellbeing. Jim suggests that we train our minds to celebrate others on social media rather than comparing ourselves to them. 

Technology has enabled us to do many great things, but it’s important to keep our consumption and reliance on technology in check. 

Shifting from Survival Mode to Thrival Mode

An essential part of becoming limitless is bringing out the best version of ourselves. We need to shift into a mode in which we’re thriving, but right now, it’s easy to stay in an unhelpful survival mode, especially during COVID-19. Jim observed that shifting out of our survival state is essential for realizing our full potential: 

“I believe the quest we’re all on is to be able to realize [and] to be able to reveal our fullest potential. But when we’re in a survival mode fight or flight mode that part of our brain, the amygdala, feels like it’s being under attack. … You think about if you’re just fighting to be able to survive all, the chronic stress actually shrinks your brain, and it shuts down big parts of your brain, and again, puts you in a fight or flight or freeze place, but not one for thriving.”
– Jim Kwik

Your survival mode is detrimental to your improvement, so how can we shift away from survival mode and start thriving? 

I think where we go from survival to thrival, I feel like it’s the point in our life where we get to where we realize the big lesson in life is that we are 100% responsible for our life. I believe that’s where the switch happens, where we go from being a thermometer to a thermostat.”
– Jim Kwik

Guys, Jim’s thermometer to thermostat analogy is so great. A thermometer reacts to the environment and merely relays the temperature, while the thermostat gauges the environment and then sets the temperature. Rather than just reacting to your environment, you can control the temperature of your life. Once you take responsibility for your life, then you can shift from survival to thrival mode. 

“[If] we take responsibility for how we’re going to live today moving forward, then we have that choice. We have true freedom and permission to be able to thrive. … I think a lot of it has to do with believing in [yourself.] … Know yourself, trust, [and] love yourself.”
– Jim Kwik

Jim used the analogy of a bird standing on a branch. The bird doesn’t put its confidence in the branch itself but in its ability to fly if the branch fails to sustain it. You need to have confidence in yourself and faith in yourself so that you’re not living in fear. Have confidence that you are in control of your life, and you can maintain control regardless of your environment. You have the freedom to choose to be in control every day of your life despite how you’ve lived or what you’ve experienced up until this point. 

Another crucial step that we can take to step away from our survival state and step into our thrival state is to practice gratitude.

“If you want to get out of survival mode [practice] gratitude. If you want to start thriving, appreciate what you already have because what you appreciate … grows [and] it gets better. … If you want to feel truly wealthy, which means also you’re thriving, it means you’re not just surviving. If you want to feel truly wealthy, make a list and count all the things you have in your life. … I think gratitude is the antidote to fear.”
– Jim Kwik

Are you truly appreciative of everything that you have? Gratitude is such a vital part of stepping into thrival mode. Today, I want you to make a list of all of the things that you’re grateful for. I guarantee that once you focus on everything that you appreciate, you’ll be able to shift out of your survival mode and begin thriving. 

Become a Creative Alchemist with Jim Kwik 

I had such an amazing time talking with Jim Kwik on today’s episode. His teachings for becoming limitless and optimizing your brain are essential for bringing out the Creative Alchemist in you. 

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens of which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their own creative processes but to anyone who wants to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves — Jim Kwik is one of those people.

I’ve found that 80% of creating is alchemizing the thoughts, emotions and other inner blocks that keep you from putting the pen to the paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes.

Your art is going to be at its best when you’re at your best, so do yourself a favor and start implementing Jim’s strategies today! Also, make sure to check out the full episode here and check out my first episode with Jim, Episode 26

If you want to learn more strategies to become limitless, pick up Jim’s new book Limitless and check out his courses on Kwik Learning

Thank you so much for checking out today’s episode! If you learned as much as I did, make sure to share it on Instagram! Tag Jim, @jimkwik, and me,  @nickonken, and share how this episode expanded your mind! Also, make sure to leave me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts so that I can share this with more Creative Alchemists like you!

Remember, you are truly limitless. You are capable of doing amazing things when you stop engaging in limiting beliefs and start optimizing your brilliant mind! 

Until next time

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


“If you’re not motivated, you’re not getting out of that box.”
– Jim Kwik

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • What are the three M’s of becoming limitless [3:10]
  • How chronic stress affects the brain [7:55]
  • How mental health is the most important piece of survival [8:50]
  • How to describe a survival mental construct [18:00]
  • Why more attention needs to be paid to post-traumatic growth [19:00]
  • How people use trauma for personal growth [19:05]
  • How to practice self-love [21:25]
  • Why kindness is so important [21:35]
  • How to create more self-awareness [22:25]
  • How to define self-awareness [23:05]
  • The function of the reticular activating system [25:50]
  • What does it mean to go from survive to thrive [30:30]
  • Who is Stan Lee’s favorite superhero [32:15]
  • How to thrive [34:05]
  • What tools does Jim use to survive his internal constructs [38:10]
  • What activity helps give Jim perspective [41:55]
  • How education has helped with Jim’s survival [44:55]

The Four Horsemen of Mental Heath

  1. Digital deluge
  2. Digital distraction
  3. Digital dementia
  4. Digital depression

The Five Methodical Superpowers

  1. Focus
  2. Study
  3. Memory
  4. Speed Reading
  5. Critical Thinking

Links Mentioned

Connect with Jim Kwik on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Jim Kwik Website

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