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Flashcards in Art of Learning Deck (32)
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When a Mistake Was Made

Ask yourself what my ide a was and then helped me discover how I could have approached the decision-making process differentl y. ”


The key to pursuing excellence is to

embrace an organic, long-term learning pro cess, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.


In the long run, painful losses may prove much more valuable than wins-those who are armed with a healthy attitude and are able to draw wisdom from every experience, "good" or "bad", are the ones who make it down the road.

They are also the ones who are happier along the way. Of course the real challenge is to stay in range of this long-term perspective when y ou are under fire and hurting in the middle of the war. This, maybe our biggest hurdle, is at the core of the art of learning


My whole career, m y father and I searched out opponents who were a little stronger than me,

so even as I dominated the scholastic circuit, losing was part of my regular experience. I believe this was important for maintaining a healthy perspective on the game.”


Prepare for the Worst Situation, not the Average

A few times a week, while studying che ss in my bedroom, I blasted music. Sometimes it wa s music I liked, sometimes music I didn't like”

“During t his period of time, in my early teens, I frequente d chess shops near my home and played speed chess in clouds of smoke, which I have always hated.”

“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously.”


Example of Questioning Your mistakes

Did he fall into a downward spiral and make a bunch of mistakes in a row? Was he overconfident? Impatient? Did he get psyched out b y a trash talker? Was he tired? Danny will have an idea about his psychological slip, and taking on that issue will be a short-term goal in the continuing process-introspective thinking of this nature can be a very healthy coping mechanism. Through these dialogues, every loss is an opportunity for growth. He will become increasingly astute psychologically and sensitive to bad habits.”


Don't Avoid Discomfort

Be at peace with it. Always look for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable- When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it.


My Instinct is to Seek Out Challenges

Not Avoid Them


When Breaking Yourself Down to Build Yourself up Better

Learners in this phase are inevitably vulnerable. It is important to have perspective on this and allow yourself protected periods for cultiv ation.

it is essential to have a liberating Incremental approach that allows for times when you are not in a peak performance state.


Those Who have their eye on greatness are willing

to get burned time and again as th ey sharpen their swords in the fire.


Making Smaller Circles

players ten d to get attached to fancy techniques and fail to recognize that subtle internalization and refinement is much more important than the quantity of wha t is learned.”

“The fact is that when there is intense competition, those who succeed have slightly more honed skills than the rest. 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 s et. Depth beats breadth any day of the week, because it opens a channel for the intangible, unconscious, creative components of our hidden potential.”


First, we have to learn to be at peace

with imperfection, I mentioned the image of a blade of grass bending to hurricane-force winds in contrast to a brittle twig snapping under pressure.
Next, in our performance training, we learn to use that imperfection to our advantage-for example thinking to the beat of the music or using a shaking world as a catalyst for insight. The third step of this process, as it pertains to performance psychology, is to learn to create ripples in our consciousness, little jolts to spur us along, so we are constantly inspired whether or not external conditions are inspiring.


One thing I have learned as a competitor is that t here 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

If your goal is to be mediocre, then you have a considerable margin for error. Almost without exception, I am back on the mats the next day, figuring out how to use my new situation to heighten elements of my game. If I want t o be the best, I have to take risks others would a void, always optimizing the learning potential of the moment and turning adversity to my advantage.


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 pro cess. Let setbacks deepen your resolve. You should always come off an injury or a loss better than w hen you went down. Another angle on this issue is the unfortunate correlation for some between consistency and monotony. It is all too easy to get caught up in the routines of our lives and to lose creativity in the learning process. Even people who are completely devoted to cultivating a certain discipline often fall into a mental rut, a disengage d lifestyle that implies excellence can be obtained by going through the motions. We lose presence.


With practice I am making

networks of chunks and paving more and more neural pathways, which effectively takes huge piles of data and throws it over to my high-speed processor-the unconscious. Now my conscious mind, focusing on less, see ms to rev up its shutter speed from, say, four frames per second to 300 or 400 frames per second. Th e key is to understand that my trained mind is not necessarily working much faster than an untrained mind-it is simply working more effectively,“ly, which means that my conscious mind has less to deal with.


armed with an understanding of how intuition operates, we can train ourselves to have remarkably potent perceptual and physical abilities in our disciplines of focus

The key, o f course, is practice.”


Grandmasters know how to make the subtlest cracks decisive. The only thing to do was become immune t o the pain, embrace it, until I could work through hours of mind-numbing complexities as if I“were taking a lovely walk in the park.

The vise, after a ll, was only in my head. I spent years working on this issue, learning how to maintain the tension-becoming at peace with mounting pressure. Then, as a martial artist, I turned this training to my advantage, making my opponents explode from mental combustion because of my higher threshold for discomfort.


In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded , present, cool under fire is much of what separat es the best

from the mediocre. In competition, the dynamic is often painfully transparent.”


we must be our own monitor, and quality of presence is often the best gauge.

We cannot expect to touch excellence if "going through the motions is the norm of our lives.
On the other hand, if deep, fluid presence becomes second nature, then life, art, learning take on a richness that will continually surprise and delight. Those who excel ar e those who maximize each moment's creative potent ial-for these masters of living, presence to the d ay-to-day learning process is akin to that purity

of focus others dream of achieving in rare climactic moments when everything is on the line.

The secret is that everything is always on the line. The more present we are at practice, the more p resent we will be in competition, in the boardroom, at the exam, the operating table, the big stage.


Presence must be like breathing.”

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.


as I became more attuned to the qualitative fluctuations of my thought process es, I found that if a think of mine went over four teen minutes, it would often become repetitive and imprecise. After noticing this pattern, I learned to monitor the efficiency of my thinking.

If it started to falter, I would release everything for a moment, recover, and then come back with a fresh slate. Now when faced with difficult chess positions, I could think for thirty or forty minutes at a very high level, because my concentration was fueled by little breathers.


If you are interested In really improving as a per former

I would suggest incorporating the rhythm of stress and recovery into all aspects of your life.


my entire approach to learning is based on-breaking down the artificial barriers between our diverse life experiences so all moments become enriched by a sense of interconnected-ness.

As we get better and better at releasing tension and coming back with a full tank of gas in our everyday activities, both physical and mental, we will gain confidence in our abilities to move back and forth between concentration, adrenaline flow, physical exertion (any kind of stress), and relaxation, I can't tell you how liberating it is to know t hat relaxation is just a blink away from full awareness.


Interval work is a critical building block to beco ming a consistent long-term performer.

If you spend a few months practicing stress and recovery in y our everyday life, you'll lay the physiological foundation for becoming a resilient, dependable pressure player.


The ideal for any performer is flexibility.

If you have optimal conditions, then it is always great to take your time and go through an extended routine“If things are less organized, then be prepared with a flexible state of mind and a condensed routine.


I believe that this type of condensing practice c an do wonders to raise our quality of life.

Once a simple inhalation can trigger a state of tremendous alertness, our moment-to-moment awareness becomes blissful, like that of someone half-blind who puts on glasses for the first time.


To walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather

or we can make sandals


Identify and Build up Your Weaknesses

Once I started training with Frank again, I quickly realized that the reason I got angry when he wen t after my neck was that I was scared, I didn't know how to handle it and thought I would get hurt.

He was playing outside of the rules so a natural defense mechanism of mine was anger and righteous indignation. Just like with Boris. So, first things first-I had to learn to deal with neck attacks.


Once that adjustment was made, I was free to learn. If someone got into my head, they were doing me a favor, exposing a weakness.

They were giving me a valuable oppor tunity to expand my threshold for turbulence. Dirty players were my best teachers.


studying positions of reduced complexity

Endgame before opening

Then we apply the internalized principles to increasingly complex scenarios.