A Grand Master Chess Prodigy & World Champion Push Hands Competitor Talks About Mastery & Learning as a Skill

One of my favorite non-fiction books was written by Josh Waitskin, aka the kid that inspired Searching for Bobby FisherThe Art of Learning: An Inner Journey To Optimal Performance is passionate, philosophical, practical, and clearIf you want to know how to become better at whatever you are trying to master, then this is a must read. Waitskin focuses on how to learn and how to perfect something. Here are a few key takeaways:

·         Discipline is key.  Create a practice around learning.  Make the skill and drill part of learning a ritual.

·         Define the end goal and look at what that looks like.  Then work backwards to the beginning.  This highlights the various avenues you have and weakness you possess.

·         Identify where you are weak and invest in that.  As he puts it, invest in the loss!  When boxing, if you are always defeated by a lefty, then only fight lefties until you figure out how you can beat them.  If you can’t hit the curve, only take curveball batting practice.  Obsess before and after on the mechanics of summiting the obstacle in your way.

·         Use visualization.  Focus on the thing you are trying to learn and play it out in your head on repeat.  Visualization will better prepare you for engaging in the act in the real world.

·         Work with people better than you and with different skills then you.  You will learn new tricks and enhance olds one by teaching them.

·         Recognize your success and failure in an activity.  It is not you. Take pride in the work itself, learn from it and optimize for your given selected outcome.

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