The Art Of Learning
An accomplished chess player and push hand (martial arts) champion shares how the bulk of his success has been due to being a good learner. I was expecting more of a technical guide, but this book actually had many exciting stories in excellent prose that added a lot of heart to his methods, a great example of showing instead of telling.
“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.”
Many people will scoff at this but consistently getting laid on the international level is not unlike competitions that the author faced, especially when it comes to maintaining your concentration in order to perform at peak levels. Are bad nights out due to the girls not liking you or because you were off? How can you ensure that you’ll have a good night every night? The author talks primarily about chess and martial arts, but there’s a lot of anecdotes that players will be able to identify with.
For example, during his chess matches, he started getting annoyed at noises in the auditorium. Sometimes a song he heard earlier would loop in his head. He’d fail at removing them and then would end up losing the match. What he learned to do was to incorporate the noises into his head and use that to adjust his tempo.
Compare noise in a chess match to a cockblocker in a club. We get mad at them, wanting to remove them for the equation, but how about understanding the nature of the cockblocker to successfully pull you girl anyway? Maybe you could approach smaller groups, go for the kiss faster to neutralize the cockblockers effects, or inoculate your target against the potential cockblocker. Harness and adapt to what the environment is giving you to succeed in spite of the difficulties.
What I liked most about the book is how analytical the author is, examining every facet of not only his behavior but how he thinks. In other words, he thinks about how he thinks, meditates on how he meditates. It has put his game on an entirely different level, telling me I may not be reflecting on my experiences enough. This will be especially true for people who seem to repeat mistakes.
“A competitor needs to be process-oriented, always looking for stronger opponents to spur growth but it is also important to keep on winning enough to maintain confidence.”
This isn’t one of those books where some nerd reviews psychological studies—it’s a motivational tour de force written by a man who deliberately put himself through tough situations in order to become a champion. While there were some sluggish parts, particularly in the second half, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that makes me want to go out there and achieve. Work hard and learn hard—I can’t think of a better winning formula.
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