I read a book called “The Art of Learning” a while back by Josh Waitzkin. Josh was one of the greatest chess players of all time, a world champion Tai Chi artist, and now is one of the top performance psychologists for executives in the world.
Here is one of the biggest lessons I got from the book, and it applies to learning anything. If you want to master a skill or an art, you should always be doing two things:
- Learn and master the basics. Practice the small things as a way of life, not as an end goal. Figure out what fundamentals you need to perfect in order to be good, and continue to practice them to become great.
- Always be pushing outside of your comfort zone, reading, listening, playing, testing out new theories, asking questions, etc. Push yourself down the path you want to go. Or as my new friend Joe Polish says, surround yourself with people better than you and you will naturally be pulled up.
On one hand, practice the simple fundamentals to build and maintain a solid foundation. On the other, push outside of your comfort zone to continue sharpening the spear. It’s common for many of us to get stuck somewhere in the middle.