The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence

The Art of Learning

Authors: Josh Waitzkin,

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Becoming a World Champion in two extreme disciplines — chess and Tai Chi — made Josh Waitzkin realize that it isn’t chess or Tai Chi that he is good at. Rather, it is the art of learning. In this book, he uses his own life to explain how emotions can be used to fuel your creativity, how your weaknesses can be made into strengths, and many more life-changing lessons.

Video Review of The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence by Josh Waitzkin,

Quotes & Tips from the Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence

The importance of a 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. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.

Push Yourself

Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.

Bounce back stronger

There are times when the body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, internal side of my game. 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. You should always come off an injury or a loss better than when you went down.

Then there are those elite performers who use emotion, observing their moment and then channeling everything into a deeper focus that generates a uniquely flavored creativity. This is an interesting, resilient approach based on flexibility and subtle introspective awareness. Instead of being bullied by or denying their unconscious, these players let their internal movements flavor their fires.

Mindset

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 immediate trophies and glory.

Mastery

It is rarely a mysterious technique that drives us to the top, but rather a profound mastery of what may well be a basic skill set.

Dedicated Practice

The secret is that everything is always on the line. The more present we are at practice, the more present we will be in competition, in the boardroom, at the exam, the operating table, the big stage. If we have any hope of attaining excellence, let alone of showing what we’ve got under pressure, we have to be prepared by a lifestyle of reinforcement. Presence must be like breathing.

Dedication

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. If your goal is to be mediocre, then you have a considerable margin for error. You can get depressed when fired and mope around waiting for someone to call with a new job offer. If you hurt your toe, you can take six weeks watching television and eating potato chips.

Learning from Mistakes

Great ones are willing to get burned time and again as they sharpen their swords in the fire.

Take Risks

If I want to be the best, I have to take risks others would avoid, always optimizing the learning potential of the moment and turning adversity to my advantage.

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