To maximize learning and use the knowledge we gain to perform at a high level, we must be willing to engage in a process that pushes us to the outer edges of our abilities, yet does not stretch us so thinly that we run the risk of breaking down. Ideally, we will allow the bar to move a bit higher with each step we take along this balanced middle road—just enough to engage our capacities fully and let us experience some success. This approach can spur us on to additional growth and wins. In order to strike a balance between pushing ourselves forward and preserving a sense of wholeness, we must be willing to let go of our prior notions of adequacy and pursue a strategy of growth that upholds our unique learning styles as well as the passions that give expression to who we are.
In Josh’s Words
To my mind, the fields of learning and performance are an exploration of greyness- of the in-between. There is the careful balance of pushing yourself relentlessly, but not so hard that you melt down. Muscles and minds need to stretch to grow, but if stretched too thin, they will snap. A competitor needs to be process-oriented, always looking for stronger opponents to spur growth, but it is also important to keep on winning enough to maintain confidence. We have to release our current ideas to soak in new material, but no so much that we lose touch with our unique natural talents.
Further reading: Chapter 9: Beginner’s Mind, 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.