How to start from scratch and become a master in a new field
School teaches us about the importance of credentials, certifications, but later in life we never actually use most of the things we learned – not to mention that some of those things don’t remain true over the years.
So how do we start from scratch in a completely new field?
How do we focus, get into a state of flow and practice in a chaotic, noisy environment?
How do we keep an open mind and how do we unlearn things?
And, above all, how do we reach mastery in a short time? Especially if we want to dominate in the fast-paced digital economy we live in!
This is what Josh Waitzkin’s book, “The Art of Learning“, is about.
You might have already heard about Josh thanks to the movie (and book) “Searching for Bobby Fischer“, that was based on his life. Josh has dominated the world of chess since childhood: eight-time National Chess Champion, title first earned when he was only 9 years old. He’s also a martial arts champion, with several National and World Championship titles in Tai Chi Chuan and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (black belt under World Champion Marcelo Garcia).
Where’s the connection between chess and martial arts? My point exactly. Josh has perfected his learning strategies and applied them in completely different fields. And wrote a book describing exactly how he did it.
Besides his work to revolutionize education (he founded a non-profit dedicated to individualized approach to learning), Josh is spending his days coaching some of the world’s top performers, from athletes to hedgefund managers. And he’s one of those people who are completely off the grid with social media?
I’ve first heard about Josh Waitzkin only a few years ago, through Tim Ferriss – Josh was one of Tim’s first podcast guests, and most of the top world experts featured in “Tools of Titans” recommended his book.
So here it is: The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, by Josh Waitzkin – your manual for learning and mastering any new field you want to. It uses Josh Waitzkin’s life experience as a frame, and how he applied strategies of learning chess to mastering martial arts.
I’d recommend it especially if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to learn and master a new field and don’t have the luxury of time – well, who does?. 🙂
Read it together with these books (they’re all recommended by Josh as well):
- The 4-Hour Chef, by Tim Ferriss. It might sound odd recommending a cooking book, but this the next best resource on the subject of learning. Cooking is just a pretext for the underlying theme of the book: accelerated learning. If you want to learn how to master a new skill in a time frame most would consider mission impossible, this one’s a must-read.
- Mastery, by Robert Greene. By studying the best people in a field and dissecting their behaviors, Robert Greene takes us through all the steps needed towards mastery (from apprenticeship all the way to innovating your field).
- The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. A book about the three key elements for mastering any skill: deliberate practice (it’s not enough to work for 10,000 hours in a field, as Gladwell argues in Outliers), ignition and master coaching.
- Listen to the second episode of the Tim Feriss Show, when he had Josh Waitzkin as a guest.
- Listen to Shane Parrish’s conversation with Barbara Oakley about how to learn. This is a new episode from The Knowledge Project (FarnamStreet Blog’s podcast), where Barbara speaks about how to overcome procrastination, the teaching techniques that led to high ADD rates, why to incorporate active breaks, why it’s not enough to reread something, and also debunking the myth of preferential learning styles (there is no such thing).
- The Art of Learning Project
So tell me: what new field you’d love to start from scratch in and dominate, but you’re afraid it’s too late or you don’t have the necessary time?