Systematize Success #2 - The Art of Learning

Learning how to learn from someone who mastered both chess and martial arts at an international competitive level

Hi Friends,

Happy Wednesday!

The Art of Learning

I recently finished The Art of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin.

It is a beautiful book: a captivating story, deep teachings, and overall something quite pleasant to read. I advise you to read it if you can find the time. It is not too long.

The key practical principles I noted and wanted to share with you are:

  1. Focus on the process of learning, not on the visible outcomes and/or goals you might have set for yourself (or worse: that others have set for yourself)

  2. Taking breaks, either minutes or months, is fundamental to internalising knowledge and skills. Plateauing is fine: the assimilation happens in the background. I think we have all experienced this already one way or another.

  3. “Investment in Loss”, as Josh calls it: when you are stuck at a certain level, you often need to step back to the very basics - even if it feels like a setback - and relearn the foundations from the perspective of your current expertise/mastery.
    This is definitely something I find especially true with sports and muscle memory: to reach the next level, you usually need to put performance aside for some time, analyse the form of your movement very slowly and carefully, and rebuild your practice on top of those tiny - but critical - incremental changes.

  4. Navigating your own knowledge when you start mastering your field - if at all possible to master anything. Intuition has a big role to play, especially when lightning-fast decisions are needed, such as in sport.
    For more intellectual fields, I would definitely argue that most of the hard knowledge should be outsourced to permanent storage (books, academic papers, blog posts, your own note-taking system, etc.).
    If you are interested in reaching the next level in terms of knowledge structuring, I share my personal system to avoid information overload - while still (over)consuming knowledge - in the first section of my online course, Success Fundamentals.

Find my full reading notes there: https://valentin.vincendon.com/book-summaries/the-art-of-learning

Thanks for reading and keep learning,

V