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We enrich our experience of life by attuning ourselves to its subtlest aspects and delving deeply into its details. One cannot excel at a pursuit nor experience its delights by bringing a skimming approach to it or handling related responsibilities in a shallow manner. To excel, our perspective must be that everything is on the line at all times and we must maximize each and every moment’s potential. To do so demands that we be fully present and engaged at every stage of our relationships, studies, and work—not just in the moments we think are critical but also in the moments leading up to them. And when there is no one to look in; no one to give feedback or cheer us on, a keen but relaxed focus will enable us to motivate and monitor ourselves.

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The secret is that everything is always on the line. The more present we are at practice, the more present we will be in competition, in the boardroom, at the exam, the operating table, the big stage. If we have any hope of attaining excellence, let alone showing what we’ve got under pressure, we have to be prepared by a lifestyle of reinforcement. Presence must be like breathing. p. 172

Further reading: Chapter 15: The Power of Presence, Chapter 17: Building Your Trigger

From THE ART OF LEARNING by Josh Waitzkin. Copyright © 2007 by Josh Waitzkin LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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