The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance

September 30, 2019 - Comment

In his riveting new book, The Art of Learning, Waitzkin tells his remarkable story of personal achievement and shares the principles of learning and performance that have propelled him to the top—twice.Josh Waitzkin knows what it means to be at the top of his game. A public figure since winning his first National Chess Championship

In his riveting new book, The Art of Learning, Waitzkin tells his remarkable story of personal achievement and shares the principles of learning and performance that have propelled him to the top—twice.

Josh Waitzkin knows what it means to be at the top of his game. A public figure since winning his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine, Waitzkin was catapulted into a media whirlwind as a teenager when his father’s book Searching for Bobby Fischer was made into a major motion picture. After dominating the scholastic chess world for ten years, Waitzkin expanded his horizons, taking on the martial art Tai Chi Chuan and ultimately earning the title of World Champion. How was he able to reach the pinnacle of two disciplines that on the surface seem so different? “I’ve come to realize that what I am best at is not Tai Chi, and it is not chess,” he says. “What I am best at is the art of learning.”

With a narrative that combines heart-stopping martial arts wars and tense chess face-offs with life lessons that speak to all of us, The Art of Learning takes readers through Waitzkin’s unique journey to excellence. He explains in clear detail how a well-thought-out, principled approach to learning is what separates success from failure. Waitzkin believes that achievement, even at the championship level, is a function of a lifestyle that fuels a creative, resilient growth process. Rather than focusing on climactic wins, Waitzkin reveals the inner workings of his everyday method, from systematically triggering intuitive breakthroughs, to honing techniques into states of remarkable potency, to mastering the art of performance psychology.

Through his own example, Waitzkin explains how to embrace defeat and make mistakes work for you. Does your opponent make you angry? Waitzkin describes how to channel emotions into creative fuel. As he explains it, obstacles are not obstacles but challenges to overcome, to spur the growth process by turning weaknesses into strengths. He illustrates the exact routines that he has used in all of his competitions, whether mental or physical, so that you too can achieve your peak performance zone in any competitive or professional circumstance.

In stories ranging from his early years taking on chess hustlers as a seven year old in New York City’s Washington Square Park, to dealing with the pressures of having a film made about his life, to International Chess Championships in India, Hungary, and Brazil, to gripping battles against powerhouse fighters in Taiwan in the Push Hands World Championships, The Art of Learning encapsulates an extraordinary competitor’s life lessons in a page-turning narrative.

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Comments

Anonymous says:

Negative reviewers may have missed the point. The theories in this book are valuable and teachable. Reading through some of the low reviews, I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. Some people felt that it was too much of an autobiographical book, bragging about his accomplishments in chess and martial arts with little to do with actual techniques on learning.I’m very glad that I picked up this book, because it has truly inspired me.What people are missing is that Josh is not bragging about the level he achieved in chess. The point he was making was that, even though he…

Anonymous says:

this is an excellent memoir/philosophical book about the author’s journey from a chess … Though not quite what I was expecting (more of an advice book on approaching the learning process and pursuing self-growth), this is an excellent memoir/philosophical book about the author’s journey from a chess champion to tai chi martial arts champion, and the parallels he draws between his training of the two. Those who are fans of books such as Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” will appreciate this book written by an undeniable outlier not only in one field, but in two seemingly…

Anonymous says:

Where is the art of learning? A catchy title, but this book is mostly about how the author went through countless numbers of international tournaments outsmarting his opponents. Although the life of a 29-year-old chess master and Tai Chi champion is fascinating and can be inspirational for some people, the book rarely touches on the principles and methods of learning. If you are searching for the Art of Tai Chi and Optimal Performance, I would recommend Dan Milman’s Body Mind Mastery or Ways of Peaceful Warrior, Ken Cohen’s…

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