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The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process Paperback – April 10, 2012
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Geoff Colvin, author of Talent Is Overrated
I use the techniques I have learned from The Practicing Mind every day. The approach is relevant for both business executives and their junior golf children on and off the course. I recommend it to all my students because its lessons will help them in both golf and life.”
Eric MacCluen, PGA Professional and Director of Golf Instruction at Applecross Country Club
The Practicing Mind engagingly transforms difficulty into devotion, offering a practical, easy-to-understand approach that will transform your view of even the most challenging or mundane steps on your journey of life.”
Marney K. Makridakis, author of Creating Time and founder of ArtellaLand.com
Thomas Sterner gives us a useful, thoughtful, much-needed book on the often-overlooked science and art of practice. It blends careful research with plenty of enlightening and entertaining personal stories. Anyone hoping to excel at anything should read this. Keep on practicing!”
Roy F. Baumeister, coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
As you embrace the process-oriented approach described in The Practicing Mind, you’ll achieve better results in any endeavor.”
Michael J. Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and Brain Power
From the Inside Flap
Early life is all about trial-and-error practice. If we had given up in the face of failure, repetition, and difficulty, we would never have learned to walk or tie our shoes. So why, as adults, do we often give up on a goal when at first we don’t succeed? Modern life’s technological speed, habitual multitasking, and promises of instant gratification don’t help. But in his study of how we learn (prompted by his pursuit of disciplines such as music and golf), Sterner has found that we have also forgotten the principles of practice the process of picking a goal and applying steady effort to reach it. The methods Sterner teaches show that practice done properly isn’t drudgery on the way to mastery but a fulfilling process in and of itself, one that builds discipline and clarity.
By focusing on process, not product,” you’ll learn to live in each moment, where you’ll find calmness and equanimity. This book will transform a sense of futility around learning something challenging into an attitude of pleasure and willingness.
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Top Customer Reviews
Today's over-stimulated society is focused on multitasking to the point that we are unable to concentrate on a single task. At any given time, our minds race from events in the past to worries about the future, but we are seldom living in the present. We measure success based on where we are in relation to our goals--or where advertising tell us we should be.
Sterner argues that the exhaustion we pile on ourselves to achieve is useless and self-defeating. We struggle to achieve perfection, but perfection is a myth, as our concept of perfection is constantly changing and moving away from us. To reach one milestone means that a dozen more are lining up in front of us. Sterner's solution is to live in the present and realize that practice is the goal, not the end result. Therefore, no matter what stage we are at, if we are practicing, we are always in a state of perfection and always successful.
Learning to take a step back from life, observe situations and direct our actions without invoking emotion make up Sterner's "DOC" (do, observe, correct) method. He encourages us to immerse ourselves in the process of practice rather than constantly comparing ourselves to the ideal. His four "S" words--simplify, small, short, and slow--help to bring attention to the present and provide the ability to enjoy life, which is one enormous process (or practice) in itself.
In Sterner's words, "There are not that many ideas in this book--just a few, and they have always been there for us to discover. But they slip away from us in our daily lives so easily."
Armchair Interview says: Through the process of practice, Sterner has managed to fit an incredible amount of wisdom into the 98 pages of The Practicing Mind.
I agree with Sterner (who agrees with Ericsson) that it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of practice. "Everything in life worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions." Recall the reference to "deliberate practice," also called "deep practice." On average, peak performance in the creative and performing arts as well as in chess and competitive sports requires at least 10,000 hours of such practice (albeit difficult, repetitious, and boring pracice) under strict, expert supervision. Does that substantial commitment of time and energy guarantee success? No, but superior performance cannot be achieved without it.
As Sterner explains, he eventually became "immersed" - in his mid-30s -- in practice after intensely disliking it for years and even abandoning it altogether. What he learned about music growing up "laid the foundation" that would later help him to understand both the mental and struggles in which he found himself when searching for answers. Whatever the nature of the activity (e.g. playing golf or a guitar or both), Sterner realized that various failures stemmed from a lack of understanding of "proper mechanics of practicing" as well as the mindset required to complete a process of goal setting and then do whatever must be done to achieve it. "Perhaps most important, I realized that I had learned how to accomplish just that [begin italics] without [end italics] the frustration and anxiety usually associated with such an activity." That in essence is the core insight that was finally revealed to him.
Here are three of Sterner's the key points, supplemented by my parenthetical annotations:
1. The mind (what the brain is and does) can be expanded in two primary ways: by constant nourishment (e.g. meditation, knowledge, sensory experience) and by constant practice (i.e. increasing mastery of various skills).
2. Personal development and improvement requires a focused and disciplined approach to what is most important, especially when encountering setbacks, ambiguity, and fatigue.
3. Initiatives should be guided and informed by these four "S" words: simplify ("Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler," Albert Einstein); small; short (the best way to eat a whale is one bite at a time); short ("baby steps" in the right direction rather than giant leaps in the wrong direction); and slow (establish an energy-efficient and awareness-expanding pace).
Development of the "practicing mind" is a never-ending process, best viewed as a journey, rather than as an ultimate destination. I agree with Thomas Sterner that none of the "truths" that he has examined are new. "They are just the eternal lessons that we have learned and relearned over the centuries from those who have questioned and found peace in the answers. This is where the fun begins."
I envy those who have not as yet read this book and will soon do so, preparing for what I hope proves to the most enjoyable journey of personal discovery that they will ever experience. Bon voyage!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would recommend this book to any one who wants to improve their thinking brain