Josh Waitzkin became a public figure since winning his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine, and then he was catapulted into a media whirlwind as a teenager when his father’s book Searching for Bobby Fischer was made into a major motion picture.
The Art of Learning is not about the story of a prodigy, but about how to pursue excellence through a love for the process of learning (or also called deliberate practice).
To walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather or we can make sandals.
Approaches to learning
The author of The Art of Learning thinks that anybody can become tremendously successful at what they do as long as they approach the learning process.
The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity.
In my experience, successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle, and ultimately discover that the lessons learned from the pursuit of excellence mean much more than the inmediate trophies and glory. In the long run, painful losses may prove much more valuable than wins—those who are armed with a healthy attitude and are able to draw wisdom from every experience, ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ are the ones who make it down the road. They are also the ones who are happier along the way.
Of course the real challenge is to stay in range of this long-term perspective when you are under fire and hurting in the middle of the war. This, maybe our biggest hurdle, is at the core of the art of learning.
When aiming for the top, your path requires an engaged, searching mind. You have to make obstacles spur you to creative new angles in the learning process. Let setbacks deepen your resolve.
In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded, present, cool under fire is much of what separates the best from the mediocre.
As we get better and better at releasing tension and coming back with a full tank of gas in our everyday activities, both physical and mental, we will gain confidence in our abilities to move back and forth between concentration, adrenaline flow, physical exertion (any kind of stress), and relaxation.
For one thing, now that your conscious mind is free to take little breaks, you’ll be delighted by the surges of creativity that will emerge out of your unconscious. You’ll become more attuned to your intuition and will slowly become more and more true to yourself stylistically.
The unconscious mind is a powerful tool, and learning how to relax under pressure is a key first step to tapping its potential.
The point to this system of creating your own trigger is that a physiological connection is formed between the routine and the activity it precedes.