Okay, maybe the title is a tad misleading; I doubt that anyone can say they have truly mastered their own mind. However, listening to these two guys might lead you to believe they are far closer to this status than most.
Josh Waitzkin has a very interesting life story, and if you have not read his book “The Art of Learning”, add it to the top of your To Do list. He was the kid which the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” was based. Long story short, Bobby Fischer was the first US born World Chess Champions, and the movie is based on Josh Waitzkin’s life as the heir-apparent to this legacy. Josh did very well for a while, but….. I encourage you to read the book and/or do a little more research to find out the whole story.
Later in life, Josh began to put the pieces together on how what he learned in chess applied to other skills, such as martial arts. He became world class at these other pursuits as well. Now he spends a fair amount of his time coaching others to reach their full potential, regardless of their chosen field. He and Tim Ferriss are good friends, and this talk is a 40 minute discussion they did at a charity event. If you are not familiar with Tim Ferriss, get out from under the rock where you are living; he is one of the most influential thought leaders today, and his podcasts have over 400 million downloads thus far, and shows no signs of slowing down. The commonality between these two is meta-learning. Finding ways to learn as much as possible in the shortest and most effective time period. This discussion centered around this topic quite a bit, and was riveting in my opinion.
Anyway, one of the takeaways in this talk was a thought that Tim brought up for Josh to discuss. Its origin was many years back, and on the ski slopes. Josh was skiing with former Olympic skier Billy Kidd, and Kidd shared a thought that most of us gloss over fairly easily. His question to Josh was “What is the most important part of the (ski) run? Many will tell you is the three hardest turns in the beginning, or the middle. Kidd felt it was the end, and the reason why makes a lot of sense: what you did last is what your brain is processing as you ride ski lift to the top again. Josh expanded on this thought, reinforcing the edict of Finish Strong. Whether in martial arts, business, or surfing, you need to do your best work at the end, and let that ingrain itself in your brain and set a new bar for the next time out.
I can relate to this from my own life in several ways. If it was getting close to the end of the day on a fishing trip, I always wanted to end with my last cast being successful (catching a fish). Playing a racquetball match I ALWAYS wanted to hit the winning shot, ending the match, and not have my opponent make an error. I wanted to win it, not have my opponent lose. The feeling of that success, in whatever form, mattered to me. I wanted to leave with that feeling. I don’t ski, but I feel I can safely assume that Kidd and Waitzkin were thinking the same thing in their examples.
One of the things I love about listening to guys like this is how much they have to offer in shortening a learning curve. I do my best to do the same with my racquetball players and those who come to me for advice of some sort. I don’t have all the answers, and sometimes the best I have to contribute is “Here’s what I did wrong, so don’t do this…”. Hopefully even that has merit, and can help them down the path just a little farther. If there is one wish I had for my life it is this: I wish I was this smart when I was 20. I still I have a lot to learn, but I didn’t know squat back then. In fact, I didn’t know that I didn’t know squat, which is worse. When I throw around a label like “burgeoning thought leader”, this is what I am referencing. I am sharing my thoughts with as many as I can so they can learn from my errors and get down the path sooner.
Learn from everywhere and everyone you can. Sometimes, even from the fool, you learn not to be foolish…. Define your goals and get there quickly. And be sure to send the elevator back down once you get to the top.
The video of this discussion can be view by clicking here