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These are the steps to high-level learning and performance: Delve into the essential aspects of a small pool of basic information that is foundational to your chosen topic or field and do so in a manner that is in keeping with your unique learning style. Building on this base, devote yourself to exploring new, ever more advanced sets of information and technique that lie at the outer edges of your ability or understanding. Alternate such periods of pushing yourself to your limit with periods of rest and relaxation that foster recovery and creativity.

By approaching learning in this way, your internalized knowledge will lead to bursts of insight and discovery, which you can expand further by breaking down the mechanics that led to your achievements. Eventually, you will come to recognize the feeling that a refined and integrated body of knowledge produces in you and you will be able to target the re-creation of this feeling as you pursue new subject areas.

In Josh’s Words

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The beautiful thing about this approach to learning is that once we have felt the profound refinement of a skill, no matter how small it may be, we can then use that feeling as a beacon of quality as we expand our focus onto more and more material. Once you know what good feels like, you can zero in on it, search it out regardless of the pursuit.p. 225

No matter how much preparation we do, in the real tests of our lives, we’ll be in unfamiliar terrain. Conditions might not be calm or reasonable. It may feel as though the whole world is stacked against us. This is when we have to perform better than we ever conceived of performing. I believe the key is to have prepared in a manner that allows for inspiration, to have laid the foundation for us to create under the wildest pressures we ever imagined.p. 262

Further reading, Chapter 19, Bringing It All Together

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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