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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One man's "inner journey" to achieve his own optimal performance
It is important to keep in mind that the material in this book indicates what Josh Waitzkin learned about learning during what he characterizes as his "inner journey to optimal performance" at the highest levels of competition in chess. The material centers on the process to his optimal performance. Had he competed in professional baseball, he would never have played for...
Published 2 months ago by Robert Morris

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, but probably not a life changer.
I should start off by saying that I quite liked this book, but that it's probably not one I'd return to again and again.

Firstly, the good: the book is very well written; Waitzkin comes across as a likable character, and quite humble for someone who has so obviously been a high achiever in his chosen field. He does offer some good insights, in terms of being...
Published on 20 Jun 2008 by M. D. Beaney


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, but probably not a life changer., 20 Jun 2008
By 
I should start off by saying that I quite liked this book, but that it's probably not one I'd return to again and again.

Firstly, the good: the book is very well written; Waitzkin comes across as a likable character, and quite humble for someone who has so obviously been a high achiever in his chosen field. He does offer some good insights, in terms of being aware of the individual's underlying nature when learning and not trying to force onself down a path that contradicts that. Plus, the stories used to illustrate his points are largely engaging.

Where I think the book was disappointing, for me at least, was that a great deal of the observations about what makes a top performer (learning from mistakes, concentrating on gaining a deep understanding etc.) are, if not self-evident, then at least variations on things that have been written about elsewhere.

nevertheless, definitely worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One man's "inner journey" to achieve his own optimal performance, 3 Aug 2014
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
It is important to keep in mind that the material in this book indicates what Josh Waitzkin learned about learning during what he characterizes as his "inner journey to optimal performance" at the highest levels of competition in chess. The material centers on the process to his optimal performance. Had he competed in professional baseball, he would never have played for an MLB team. So, as other reviews have duly noted, this book's title is somewhat misleading.

However, although Waitzkin never became a world champion or even a grandmaster in chess, he was a better player than most of those with whom he competed. Indeed, he was a National Chess Champion at age nine and won other national titles again another seven times. He also became a master of Tai Chi Chuan and earned 21 National Championships and several World Championships. Finally, he was the subject a book and film based on it, Searching for Bobby Fischer.

In recent years, I have been grateful to Anders Ericsson and his research associates at Florida State University for all that I have learned from them about optimal performance. The key revelations correlate with what Maitzkin shares. For example, the importance of focus and commitment: "My growth became defined by [begin italics] barrierlessness [end italics]. Pure concentration didn't allow thought or false construction to impede my awareness, and I observed clear connections between different life experiences through the common mode of consciousness by which they were perceived."

Also, overcoming exhaustion during practice or competition as he did in finals against "the Buffalo" in Taiwan. Although "spent" and down 2-0 with only seconds remaining, he somehow battled back to tie. His one last move "had to be perfectly timed because if it didn't work I might just collapse." There would be a two-minute overtime. "They went to find the Buffalo. For twenty minutes I paced the area, red hot - if there was a place beyond the zone, I was there." However, his opponent could not continue so the officials declared a shared title. "Buffalo and I swayed on the first place podium together, hugging and holding each other up." Both had achieved an optimal performance.

This is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi had in mind when formulating his concept of "flow," the psychology of optimal experience. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, maximum creativity, and a total engagement with the moment. I recall countless times when Michael Jordan was in such a state and didn't miss a three-point shot, when Tiger Woods didn't miss a putt, when Wayne Gretsky knew -- before anyone else did -- where the puck would go, as did Bill Russell who knew -- before anyone else did -- where the rebound would go. Flow has often been called "being in a zone." Waitzkin discusses this in Chapter 17.

These are among the subjects that Waitzkin discusses that were of greatest interest to me:

o Manhattan as an environment within which competition is most likely to thrive
o The significance of Bruce Pandolfini during Waitzkin's "inner journey"
o How and why Waitzkin had to lose and understand losing before he could win in competition
o The best and worst of the competition at the National Chess Championship
o What Waitzkin learned about himself during competition
o What the chess and Tai Chi Chuan mindsets share in common
o Their most significance differences
o How to and why "make smaller circles"
o Using pain and adversity to one's advantage
o How to and why "slow down time"
o How to and why build one's "trigger"
o What "winning" and "losing" really mean in terms of personal growth
o Why self-discovery is an endless process, not an ultimate destination

I want to repeat what I suggested earlier: This really isn't a book about THE art of learning; rather, it offers what Waitzkin learned about learning. And in terms of optimal performance, that is a relative determination. Paradoxically, it also involves a hierarchy. In essence, the challenge is to become the best you can be while doing whatever it is that you do. Jordan didn't make all his shots, Woods didn't sink all his putts, Gretsky didn't always get to the puck first, and Russell didn't haul down every rebound. You get my point. It seems to me that Josh Waitzkin has come remarkably close to being the best Josh Waitzkin he could be, as did each of the others just mentioned again. Oscar Wilde once observed, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." I agree.

Here are his concluding remarks: "The ideas I've shared in these pages have worked for me and it's my hope that they suggest a structure and direction. But there is no such thing as a fixed recipe for victory or happiness. If my approach feels right, take it, hone it, give it your own flavor. Leave my numbers behind. In the end, mastery involves the discovering the most resonant information and integrating it so deeply and fully it disappears and allows us to fly free."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read!!! Was not what I expected!, 21 Mar 2010
By 
Ekowi (London, England) - See all my reviews
This my first review ever on Amazon after probably almost a decade as a customer and dozens of books. I saw this recommended to be read by beginners to financial trading. I couldnt see the connection but it appeared to be an interesting book and I had a 16 hour return flight coming up.

I'm not going to wax lyrical about the content because other reviews have done that already. Suffice to say that if there is a discipline, job, or art that you are really keen to excel in and are truly drawn to - you will begin to see a clear road to achieving your goal and start to be much more aware of your innate powerful abilities. And be wonderfully entertained while your subconscious is being reprogrammed!

I plan to re-read it several times.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learning theory told through master level experience in chess and tai chi, 1 Sep 2009
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Author Josh Waitzkin has mastered two complex, esoteric disciplines: chess and tai chi, a martial art. He won national chess titles as a youth, and national and world championships in "push hands," or partner tai chi. In this book he presents his theories about learning and high level performance, using as a case study his own rise to excellence in highly competitive sports. Even without the theoretical speculation his story is engaging - but his theories make the book useful to anyone trying to learn a new skill. getAbstract recommends it to those who wish to raise their level of performance, find out about mind-body connections or enjoy a good story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think about how you learn, 16 July 2013
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Others have criticised this book as being more of a biography than a book which tells you how to learn. Although the book is presented in the narrative of the authors life, I think anyone who has attempted to learn a particular game or skill can very much relate to what the author is saying, its very easy to draw parallels between what is described in the book and your attempts to get good at something.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for anyone, 27 Jun 2012
Brilliant book in the way of mental training intertwined with Waitzkin's exceptional life story. Echoing others, I can see why anyone who "competes" in anything, or anyone at all, would gain anything from reading it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy read but not that enlightening, 25 Sep 2008
A Kid's Review
Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning is an easy book to read. Waitzkin writes with a fluent style and fills his pages with anecdotes. What the book lacks however is true insight into the learning process. There are no real concrete actions a reader can take to become a better learner, it all just remains fuzzy and vague and never truly coalesces into a coherent vision.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 6 July 2014
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Excellent story and a good tips to learn new skills
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENCE, 2 July 2014
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An excellent book on the subject of excellence and peak performance, viewed through the prism of Waitzkin's own experiences and achievements.

Josh Waitzkin achieved fame when his father's book "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was made into a film.

In addition to his chess achievements, Josh went on to become a highly proficient martial arts expert. This is a guy who has walked his talk - par excellence. What can I say except "RESPECT!"

This book here under review also features his interesting take on the chess training methods of Mark Dvoretsky. It is the first time in print I have seen these methods intelligently questioned. ( Dvoretsky was at one stage a guest of the Waitzkins in New York).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into elite level thinking, 16 May 2014
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This review is from: The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence (Kindle Edition)
whilst delving into complex topics the book never feels cumbersome or like dredging through a work book.

the snappy pacing and climaxes help make this instructional book a pleasure to read
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