Friday, April 30, 2010

The Art of Learning : Part 2

In this post you will my notes from the second part of The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin.

Part 2 : My Second Art

Investment in loss is giving yourself to the learning process. Put your ego on the side. Aim to minimize the number of times you make the same mistake, by having an eye for consistent psychological and technical themes of error.
Essential to have a liberating incremental approach that allows for times when you are not in a peak performance state.
Great ones are willing to get burned time and again as they sharpen their swords in the fire.

Have a beginner's mind and invest in losses.

Depth over Breadth

Plunge into the detailed world of the micro in order to understand what makes the macro thick. Our attention deficit culture is an obstacle to this. We are bombarded with more an more information (TV, internet, ...). There is a constant supply of stimulus -> potential to turn us into addicts, always hungering for something new and prefabricated to entertain us.
Then when nothing exciting is going on, we might get bored, distracted, separated from the moment -> so we look for new entertainment.
If caught in this rhythmes, we are like tiny current-bound surface fishes, floating along a two-dimensional world without any sense for the gorgeous abyss below. When these socially induced tendencies translate into the learning process, they have a devastating effect.

Making smaller circles : subtle internalization and refinement is much more important than the quantity of what is learned. Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential.

3 critical steps in a resilient performer's evolving relationship to chaotic situations :

  • 1. learn to be at peace with imperfection.
  • 2. learn to use that imperfection to your advantage.
  • 3. learn to create ripples in your consciousness, little jolts to spur us along, so we are constantly inspired whether or not external conditions are inspiring.

It's important to undulate between external and internal (concrete vs abstract, technical vs abstract) training. If your opponent is temporarily tied down qualitatively or energetically more than your are expending to tie him down, you have a large advantage. You have to make obstacles spur you to new creative angles. You should always come off an injury or a loss better than when you went down.

Intuition is our most valuable compass in this world. It's the bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind.
Road to mastery :

  • start with the fundamentals
  • get a solid foundation fueled by understanding the principles of your discipline
  • expand and refine your repertoire, guided by your individual predipositions while keeping in touch with what you feel abstractly to be the essential core of the art.
The result of this is a network of deeply internalized, interconnected knowledge that expands from a central, personal locus point.

Chunkin : mind's ability to assimilate large amounts of information into a cluster that is bound together by certain patterns or principles.
Carved neural pathways : process of creating chunks and the navigation between chunks.
The conscious mind can only take in and work with a certain limited amount of information in a unit of time. Making networks of chunks by practicing moves huge piles of data to the unconscious. That way your consciousness has less to deal with and can focus on details. The key is practice.

This was part 2. I left out all the personal stories which greatly exemplifies the advices. On to the last part.

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