How others have achieved mastery

They are masters of their craft. What techniques have they used and what have I learned from them? They might not objectively be masters, but in my eyes they are.

I will continually revise and update this.

Josh Waitzkin - Chess Master, Tai Chi & Brazillian jiu-jitsu

Josh Waitzkin Tai Chi "The Art of Learning" describes how Waitzkin approached the difficulties of mastering chess, and how he later used the same methods of learning and mastering Tai Chi and Brazillian jiu-jitsu.

Taught me:

  • The difficulties one has to face when growing up whilst learning and how to face them. The distractions.
  • The importance of introspection: Understanding one's thoughts and how to manipulate them
  • Oneself is the only one to trust with changing the situation
  • That intuition is hours of practical experience rooted in the subconscious.
  • There must be a deep understanding of the fundamentals for mastery to occur
  • Meditation is important to have quality time and presence
  • The importance of channeling external effect to one's benefit (concentrate with noise etc.)
  • Be aware of your surroundings; if there is an external change you have to adapt
  • Your mentors need to be active learners

The curve describing mastery

Richard Feynman - Physicist

Created Feynman diagrams. Had very engaging lectures. Worked on the Manhattan project.

Walter Lewin - Physics Professor

Incredibly engaging lectures.

Daniel Kahneman - Professor

Daniel Kahneman TED talk "Thinking, fast and slow" covers the revelations, for which Kahneman received the Nobel Price in economics 2002. He talks a lot about System 1 and System 2 thinking. System 1 is the quick, emotional response, System 2 is the slow, rational response. System 2 needs ore energy to operate, which is one of the reasons why humans have no statistical intuition whatsoever. (Cudos to Hans Rosling for spreading this message).

  • Loss aversion: We are more likely to avoid pain than to achieve gain, even with good odds.
  • We have preconceptions about people, without knowing their situation, which are widely inaccurate.

Neil Strauss - Pickup artist

Neil Strauss A couple of years ago I read "The Game" by Neil Strauss. It covers the intriguing subject of how to get women, and the how pickup artist community. Sexually frustrated men would gather and discuss strategies on how to pick up women, and then go out and try to do it. Strauss himself mentions how ethically questionable this whole approach is.

He was very engaged in his endeavour, and constantly strived toward getting better. After a couple of years he had reached a certain level of mastery; he could get any woman.

There are a couple of things this book taught me:

  • Non-verbal human language (Led me to read a book about that)
  • How predictable people are
  • How to build resillience
  • To recognize the different stages of mastery
  • To constant reflection of situations

Notice how I have gone all meta. It is not about what he did, but how he did it. He does not cover the mastery principles and processes in the book; he mostly retells his story

Scott Young

Scott Young He completed the MIT Open Courseware in 12 months without going to school. It is usually a 4 year program. Spent an entire year abroad without english, to learn a new language. He has a TEDx talk.

  • Time tracking - see where you spend your time every da
  • Optimize lessons: Watch at 1.5x speed

TODO: Are there any writings or books provided?


System 1 and System 2 (See focused and diffuse thinking) are the ones Waitzkin is talking about, when mentioning intuition - The training is done with System 2, and when reaching higher levels of intuition System 2 thinking has been transferred to System 1; a random access memory or muscle memory.

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