May 29, 2007

The Art of Learning

I've been searching for a book like this for years: Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence. This book is absolutely brilliant! We all want to be excellent in something. To perform at the highest levels. This illustrates one path (Josh's path) to become great in any endeavor. I've about 4 1/2 pages of notes from this book. Here are some of the gems:
page 12 -- "[being] unhindered by internal conflict" is fundamental to the learning process

page 35 -- be careful about things that are easy, but very time consuming; he sites young chess players learning, memorizing Chess openings as an example -- not useful when the opponent is equal-or-better player than this Young Chess player, since most of the match will be focused on the midgame and endgame.

page 63 -- "...brilliant creations are often born of small errors."

page 107, 108, through out the book -- it is all about the Ego; if you are stuck in some plane of ability, unable to move further -- it is most like because of the Ego. Steve Pavlina's How to Get From a 7 to a 10 comes to mind. What that basically it says (Pavlina's article) is that when you are Good at something, to become Very Good, you might have to become Bad -- relearn some of the basics over again... Here is where you have to lose your Pride and not be afraid to look bad.

page 172 -- living in the present is the key: "we cannot touch excellence if 'going through the motions' is the norm of our lives"
Also the stories that Josh relates are very interesting and entertaining.

May 19, 2007

Anatomy of Peace

I just finished reading The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. As the title suggests, it provides insights into the heart of conflicts -- on why conflicts really occur and what to do about them. Why do conflicts occur? At the deepest level, they occur because we don't treat the other person as a Human Being -- we treat them as objects. What does that mean? Well, it is easier to see how we treat objects. Take, for example, the flashlight. The purpose of the flashlight is to provide light. If it doesn't, then it is broken and it needs to be fixed.

But Human Beings aren't objects. They do things (or don't do things) because they choose to. So if someone in our lives does something different that we aren't used to, that doesn't mean they are broken. And it doesn't mean they need to be fixed. Our view of who they are -- that needs to be fixed. Since we can only change ourselves and not anybody else, that is the only thing that we can do. And this is also the best thing we can do to help the other person from whatever "problem" they have put themselves into.

And, what to do about conflicts? Instead of working on things that have gone "wrong" (example, fixing the other person -- which is what most people do), work on things that'll help things go right for the other person (example, if your child has a problem, then building relationships with those have influence over your child in other areas of their lives, will be helpful -- their friends, their teachers, etc.).

If you find this confusing -- rest assured -- the book makes these thing very clear and understandable. And it really helped me with dealing with conflicts in my daily life.