Place: Geneva, Switzerland (I wrote half of this on the train to Chambery, France)
I thought I was finished school. I had finished 'textbook' learning and in classroom teaching. This is because I took on a different approach to learning- one described clearly through the 'Art of Learning' by Josh Waitzkin.
The vast majority of 'motivated' people, young and old, make terrible mistakes in their approach to learning. They fall frustrated by the wayside while those on the road to success keep steady on their paths. The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long term learning process and not to live in a shell of static safe mediocrity.- Pg. 29, Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning
Josh Waitzkin knows what it means to be at the top of his game with winning his first National Chess Championship at the age of nine, then earning the World Championship for the martial art Tai Chi Chuan.
How was he able to reach excellence in 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."
First, what is the difference that allows some to fit into that narrow window to the top? And second, what is the point? This is the essence of the book- to understand how to succeed in pursuing excellence in whatever field you choose- even if these fields or disciplines are vastly different.
Ever since I was 16, I created my own learning- learning from the people I met and outside the classroom. While most people saw that I was frivolously going from one place to another and not ready to stay put, they only saw that I traveled EVERYWHERE.
In reality, long term travel has nothing to do with demographics- age, ideology, income and everything to do with personal outlook. Long term travel isn't about being a college student- it's about being a student in daily life. Long-term travel isn't an act of rebellion against society- it's an act of common sense within society.- Tim Ferriss, Author of the Tools of Titans
What does it take to be a student in daily life?
It is one that starts always with a 'beginner's mind.' In this way, there is always more to learn and grow in whichever discipline you choose.
Whenever I took off to 'travel,' others saw that it was 'vacation,' however I saw it as continuing my learning outside the classroom. This is not done only when I went to a new place or revisit an old, however it is the practice everyday to learn and connect with people.
I was shy and serious. I made many many mistakes and I still do, however I start conversations anywhere I want. They start because I see it as my lifelong learning. It is for the love of the 'game.'
What happens when setbacks are inevitable and 'mistakes' occur?
This was not described in the book, however in the interview with Tim Ferriss, Josh described a concept called 'lateral thinking.'
Lateral thinking: the ability to take one lesson from one thing and transfer it to another.
1. What is one lesson you have learned recently from your discipline that you can transfer to another?
This is because learning from a lesson rather than seeing setbacks as a failure allows you to focus on growth and learning rather than a setback and failure. Losers think of 'failure,' while winners think of a lesson learned and a test or an experiment. Losers think about stopping or giving up, while winners think about their love for the game and learning from their experiment.
This is described thoughtfully clear in this question:
2. How can you balance long-term process with short-term goals and inevitable setbacks? (Pg. 45)
While so many people will see the pursuit of long term goals and short-term process, what if they were reversed: long-term process and short-term goals.
I do this every morning writing down clearly what do I want to make happen today- at least 3-5 things that will make my day great. They almost always include connecting with someone and challenging myself to learn something new.
With every setback and lesson learned, growth can happen.
Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them. If I want to be the best, I have to take risks others would avoid, always optimizing the learning potential of the moment and turning adversity to my advantage.'- Pg. 47
3. When do you need to cultivate empty space for the learning process?
Interestingly enough, Josh has no social media avoids all interviews, meetings and phone calls. This is pretty impressive however it makes me think about how to eliminate distractions when I need to get things done. Every morning I set time to read and write on my own which gives me a fresh start in the morning to think and learn.
When you approach your learning with a beginner's mind, you tap into the process of learning without seeing 'failure' as a setback however it is a journey of life long learning.
P.S. Long term travel doesn't require a massive bundle of cash; it requires only that we walk through the world in a deliberate way.- Tim Ferriss