Secrets of a Six Year Old Chess Prodigy

Secrets of a Six Year Old Chess Prodigy

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Are you skimming along the surface of life? How absorbed are you in your work and your passions? What would happen if you cut out all distractions, and simply focus on the most important stuff? The things in life that it is your purpose and even (if this isn't too lofty an idea) your destiny to do?

I have a book recommendation this week. I recently read Josh Waitzkin's inspiring The Art of Learning.  It's a great tale. Josh started playing chess at the age of 6 (that's him in the pics above and below).

In fact, on the very day he learnt the game, he showed such talent that street players in New York thought he and his mother were running some kind of sophisticated chess hustling scam.

He went on to be a chess champion, and then a tai chi champion. The book is mostly a story, and then it also delves into the how of high performance, and that's where it gets even more fascinating.

Josh Waitzkin art of learning

Josh speaks with relish about absorbing himself in his work and his focus.

He applies himself so meticulously and in such depth to his goals, that he truly relishes the learning part of his work, and therefore advances and succeeds at a quick rate.

"The learning principle is to plunge into the detailed mystery of the micro in order to understand what makes the macro tick. Our obstacle is that we live in an attention-deficit culture. We are bombarded with more and more information on television, radio, cell phones, video games, the Internet. The constant supply of stimulus has the potential to turn us into addicts, always hungering for something new and prefabricated to keep us entertained. When nothing exciting is going on, we might get bored, distracted, separated from the moment. So we look for new entertainment, surf channels, flip through magazines. 

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If caught in these rhythms, we are like tiny current-bound surface fish, floating along in a two-dimensional world without any sense for the gorgeous abyss below."

I think this is really rather beautifully put. So your task for this week: choose depth and explore the 'gorgeous abyss below'.

Tony Signature

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