The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance Paperback – 21 July 2008
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"We all remember the portrayal of Josh Waitzkin in Searching for Bobby Fischer. He was a very impressive child who continues to impress with The Art of Learning. Through a unique set of experiences, Waitzkin has formed an original and outstanding perspective. From chess to Tai Chi, he provides tools that allow all of us to improve ourselves every day." -- Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
"Waitzkin's in-depth look into the mental side of his success in both chess and martial arts is an inspiring and absorbing read. I strongly recommend it for anyone who lives in a world of competition, whether it's sports or business or anywhere else. It's also a great training tool for kids aspiring to reach the pinnacle of their chosen fields." -- Mark Messier, 6-time Stanley Cup Champion
"Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning is a testimonial to the timeless principle of 'do less and accomplish more.' Highly recommended for those who want to understand the power of consciousness." -- Deepak Chopra
"Absolutely brilliant immersion into the phenomenon of human mastery. Waitzkin brings laser clarity and penetrating insights into the delicate mind, body, spirit interactions fundamental to extraordinary achievement in most any area of life. This is a journey worth taking." -- Jim Loehr, Chairman and CEO, The Human Performance Institute, and coauthor, The Power of Full Engagement
"The Art of Learning succeeds on every level, combining a truly compelling auto-biography with profound philosophical and psychological insights all wrapped in a practical how-to framework. This is a must-read for anyone wishing to achieve that rare combination of success and fulfillment." -- Paul Blease, SVP, Director, Team Development & Consulting, Citigroup Smith Barney
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I didn't get a lot practical advice that I didn't already know from this, though I admit someone new to this kind of content may well benefit. BUT, if I were still operating in a competitive environment, be it in sport or work, I would find this book much more applicable. A lot revolves around conquering an adversary through conquering the self. I do find that the "art of learning" as a title is a bit of misnomer. Also, Waitzkin often gets very detailed with his chess and tai chi examples and they do not, in my opinion, translate well to the written word or to someone who has little experience with either of these practices.
It would be very easy to write a lot this book of as unspecific and non-actionable however i think that is just wrong. What you have to understand is that this is a very nuanced topic. Since the focus is on very advanced high level performance. If you are thinking about getting to the top 10% of your field this book perhaps isn't for you, however for those going beyond, it will certainly have more relevance.
Josh does talk about other rituals that you will create to get into the zone but they are not always practical and can take much longer depending on the routine you create for yourself, such as periods of medidtation, breathing, and walking around. To get yourself into peak performance state within seconds I would recommend Dennis Waitely Winning, and or Tony Robbins Personal Power.
But other than that don't let this put you off its a great entertaining read especially his story/journey, can spark some insights if you compete at competition level in any field you will be able to relate to some of the principles in your own field
I watched the movie 'In search of Bobby Fischer'and loved it too and also some of the Tim Ferriss podcasts featuring Josh and found them a great help in deconstructing the learning process.
Through Josh's personal experiences, my understanding of deliberate practice reached a whole new level. I understood what it means to carry over principles over different disciplines, as well as what it takes to get to the top of your skill.
I recommend this book to everyone! Needless to say, it was also easy and fun to read.
The story is worthy to read. Very sweet and it motivates you to get up and keep learning. Interesting content in some parts of the book. I recommend it overall.
Top international reviews
Instead, I found some teenage-level beletristic. The book are narcistic memoires about life way of one, must admit it unknown to me, Wunderking from America. The chess-master, then re-born martial arts champion.
If you expect any hints on learning, references to psychology or any science, you will waste your time with this book.
If you are looking for naive story abour self-improvement, feel free to buy "The Art of Learning".
It was recommended by another author and I assumed it would be a brilliant book. But after reading many of the disappointed reviewers, I decided not to purchase it. However, after listening to a podcast with the author, I immediately bought the book.
It's now among my favourite books.
This book is NOT a step by step science of learning. I think many of the reviewers were hoping for something like that.
It really is the ART of learning, and Josh shares this art from his life experiences (through chess and Tai Chi).
I've taken my learning to the next level thanks to Josh.
If you're the type of person who loves to explore and learn in unexpected ways, buy the book!
I find the part about the fightings somewhat long, but I like the description the learning process and how learning is described as a never ending process which requires being personally involved, being continually adapted in order to achieve optimal performance. I think this book should be a must, in these times where everywhere is everything fast and easy going with minimal time for reflection and analysis.
Concepts such as investing in loss, loosing to win, small circles, using adversity... are great tools in the learning process.
Definitely a book to come back from time to time and refresh some concepts.
The theme is depth over breadth. The learning principle is to plunge into the detailed mystery of the micro in order to understand what makes the macro tick. Our obstacle is that we live in an attention-deficit culture.
There are clear distinctions between what it takes to be decent, what it takes to be good, what it takes to be great and what it takes to be among the best.
When aiming for the top, your path requires an engaged, searching mind. Make obstacles spur you to creative new angles in the learning process. Let setbacks deepen your resolve. Make adversity a tremendous source of creative inspiration
"I was also gradually internalising a marvellous methodology of learning - the play between knowledge, intuition, and creativity. From both educational and technical perspectives, i learned from the foundation up."
"there will be nothing learned from any challenge in which we don't try our hardest. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities."
"Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously."
"I believe that one of the most critical factors in the transition to becoming a conscious high performer is the degree to which your relationship to your pursuit stays in harmony with your unique disposition. There will inevitably be times when we need to try new ideas, release our current knowledge to take in new information - but it is critical to integrate this new information in a manner that does not violate who we are. By taking away our natural voice, we leave ourselves without a center of gravity to balance us as we navigate the countless obstacles along our way."
"Vibrant, creative idealism needs to be tempered by a practical, technical awareness."
"The Tao Te Ching's wisdom centers on releasing obstructions to our natural insight, seeing false constructs for what they are and leaving them behind."
"Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential."
"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."
"Once we learn how to use adversity to our advantage, we can manufacture the helpful growth opportunity without actual danger of injury."
"In my opinion, intuition is our most valuable compass in this world. It is the bridge between the unconscious and the conscious mind, and it is hugely important to keep in touch with what makes us tick."
"the road to mastery - start with fundamentals, get a solid foundation fuelled by understanding the principles of your discipline, then you expand and refine your repertoire, guided by your individual predispositions, while keeping in touch, however abstractly, with what you feel to be the essential core of the art. What results is a network of deeply internalised, interconnected knowledge that expands from a central, personal locus point. The question os intuition relates to how that network is navigated and used as fuel for creative insight."
"The key to this process is understanding that the conscious mind, for all its magnificence, can only take in and work with a certain limited amount of information in a unit of time"
"When two highly trained minds square off, in any field, the players are in a fight to enter each other's heads."
"In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded, present cool under fire is much of what separates the best from the mediocre."
"In the absence of continual external reinforcement, we must be our own monitor, and quality of presence is often the best gauge."
"The secret is that everything is always on the line."
"The physiologists at LGE had discovered that in virtually every discipline, one of the most telling features of a dominant performer is the routine use of recovery periods. Players who are able to relax in brief moments of inactivity are almost always the ones who end up coming through when the game is on the line."
"The unconscious mind is a powerful tool, and learning how to relax under pressure is a key first step to tapping into its potential."
"I believe an appreciation for simplicity, the everyday - the ability to dive deeply into the banal and discover life's hidden richness - is where success, let alone happiness, emerges."
"I believe that at the highest levels, performers and artists must be true to themselves. There can be no denial, no repression of the personality, or else the creation will be false - the performer will be alienated from his or her intuitive voice."
"If you think about the high-end learning principles that i have discussed in this book, they all spring out of the deep, creative plunge into an initially small pool of information. In the early chapters, I described the importance of a chess player laying a solid foundation by studying positions of reduced complexity (endgame before opening). Then we apply the internalised principles to increasingly complex scenarios. In Making Smaller Circles we take a single technique or idea and practice it until we feel its essence. Then we gradually condense the movements while maintaining their power, until we are left with an extremely potent and nearly invisible arsenal. In Slowing Down Time, we again focus on a select group of techniques and internalise them until the mind perceives them in tremendous detail. After training in this manner, we can see more frames in an equal amount of time, so things feel slowed down. In the Illusion of the Mystical, we use our cultivation of the last two principles (Making smaller circles and slowing down time) to control the intention of the opponent - and again, we do this by zooming in on very small details to which others are completely oblivious."
"Imagine that you are building a pyramid of knowledge. Every level is constructed of technical information and principles that explain that information and condense it into chunks (as i explained in the chapter Slowing Down Time). Once you have internalized enough information to complete one level of the pyramid, you move on to the next."
"There is a connection between that discovery and what you know - or else you wouldn't have discovered it - and you can find that connection if you try. The next step is to figure out the technical components of your creation. Figure out what makes the "magic tick."
Qualquer atividade que faça ou habilidade que desenvolva, o caminho é dominar a técnica e os princípios básicos e fundamentos de forma a tê-los automatizados, assim pode-se adotar um estilo que seja coerente com a sua personalidade. Tudo é uma forma de expressão, e diversos obstáculos nos mostram que precisamos liberar o caminho (bloqueios internos e externos) para nos expressarmos melhor.
Estamos assim num nível. Em certos momentos de inspiração, agimos acima do nosso nível. Josh mostra que pensar e analisar esses momentos (ele filmava treinos e competições e assistia, partes chave em camera lenta) nos permite compreender o que foi de fato a inspiração, e como elevar minha habilidade de forma a este ser o meu novo patamar. Como compreender e crescer com esse "insight", e não deixar que seja apenas a sorte do momento.
Não eleve sua voz, melhore seu argumento. Josh exemplifica muito bem essa ideia ao não reclamar das situações como ombro machucado ou juízes corruptos, apenas pensando no que fazer. Em geral, ser melhor, subir o nível do jogo. O obstáculo é o caminho.
Nesse sentido, aprender a fluir com os obstáculos tanto externos como internos - o terremoto, chutes do adversário, fumaça, falatório e etc, e a música interna, o fato de estar com saudades de casa e etc. Não negar as emoções (isso serve em algumas condições, mas nos topo as situações extremas te empurram para além disso) e sim fluir com elas, usá-las como combustível, aprender a jogar com elas, cada uma.
Uma característica fundamental de qualquer atleta de alta performance é a capacidade de relaxar. Dominar a relação entre tensão e relaxamento. Muscular, mental, em diversos níveis. É isso que separa os bons dos medíocres.
Dominar a técnica completamente, absorvê-la de forma a que não mais precise passar pela mente racional, deixando esta liberada para focar em outras coisas.
Os jogos mentais beiram a hipnose. Trabalhar estados alterados, fora da zona consciente, como momentos de piscar o olho, movimentos mínimos de ceder a uma pressão para cadenciar o oponente, controlá-lo, de forma que ele se sinta confiante (se essa for a estratégia). A batalha ocorre em diversos níveis. Quem controla o tom da luta vence. Quem entra na cabeça do outro vence.
A visualização é citada algumas vezes. Não em detalhes, mas claramente com fortes resultados. Para a cura do braço quebrado em tempo menor e sem atrofiar, visualizando vitórias e etc. Mais uma ponte com o inconsciente.
Várias pontes são feitas e usadas. A aceitação da bússola interna, de jogar a sua maneira, de investigar cada falha e compreender o que isso significa em termos de técnica, estratégia, psicologia, do oponente e etc.
Aprender com os erros é um ensinamento evidente no livro. A capacidade de analisar os erros em detalhe, perceber a falha no pensamento (por ter começado com o xadrez, um jogo mental e lento, que tem essa análise já na cultura do jogo). Essa estratégia se mostra útil na vida, a clareza de objetivos, intensificados pela profundidade do foco, pelos poucos objetivos e obsessões de cada vez, que permitem ter uma meta e estudar e aprender com cada obstáculo, levando o tempo necessário, absorvendo tudo organicamente. Cada vez mais consciente, especialmente pelo hábito de analisar, entender o que fazia intuitivamente (outro reforço à ponte entre consciente e inconsciente).
Como trabalhar pontos fracos, ou simplesmente no extremo, fora da zona de conforto, fomenta o crescimento. Especialmente com esse mindset.
Como o momento de vida e os objetivos, as dificuldades se mesclam, os obstáculos fluem e também suas resoluções.
Estar presente, atento, e relaxar. A importância de retiros (mesmo que no meio de um período onde outros treinam intensamente) para voltar renovado, com o tanque cheio e novas ideias - usar o subconsciente para trabalhar em questões enquanto a mente consciente foca em outras.
A mentalidade do processo e não do resultado, mas sem desmerecer a importância do resultado. O importante é aprender e crescer, saber que o esforço é mais importante, mas se permitir o sofrimento quando fracassa, e depois levantar de novo, pois sua identidade não foi ferida, vc é mais e não se sente ameaçado pela derrota (ela não faz de vc um perdedor).
A observação constante. O mundo dá dicas, como no exemplo da moça indo atravessar a rua, está desatenta e um ciclista esbarra nela (com grande esforço e evitando uma colisão muito pior). Ela ao invés de perceber o sinal, continua com os headphones e se vira pra xingar o ciclista. Nisso, um taxi a atropela. Estar num estado de consciência que te permita perceber esses sinais e reagir a tempo, voltar ao seu centro.
Aprender é um processo, e cada um deve seguir o seu caminho.
For myself, I did not think that it had anything new to say about the art of learning, and it took a lot of reading for me to realise this. My feminine side got bored by the competitiveness, the violence and the self absorption.
Lot of excellent concepts and approaches to learning are covered. These parts of the book are very interesting, and form the core of his teaching. He explains in detail what it takes to be an expert in a field. I'm still finding it hard to believe that with practice one can perceive time slowly! I'm now able to relate these concepts with the exceptional talents of many experts. And the book tells that these are not mystical and come with practice. The approach he suggests is very general and flexible enough to adopt to any field.
The last few chapters of the book were too detailed about the martial arts steps involved, position of arms, legs etc which I don't think were necessary. I skimmed through a few lines since they were too technical. I could still get the gist of it.
Overall it's a very inspirational book and a very useful guide. I recommend this to anyone trying to get better in any field.
Shows how he broke down learning process, and turned it up a notch. He did this in two different fields, one mental, one physical.
Yet... he managed to excel and dominate both extremes.