On Thinking and Mastery
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“What is the ONE Thing you want to master in this life?”
Josh Waitzkin once said in an interview:
I love Learning more than anything.
Similarly, I would say:
I love Thinking more than anything. Learning is a part of it.”
“What does mastering Thinking mean?”
“I’m learning that as I go. My map so far looks like this:
I’m using Alan Watkins’s model of peak performance, which we’ve talked about [<link; medium length] a while back. Remember his peak performance pyramid:
Emotion (Energy in motion)
Mastering Thinking requires mastering both Physiology and Feeling.
Thinking Mastery = Physical Mastery + Emotional Mastery + Mental Mastery
Physiology is the basis for Energy generation. This is essential because Thinking is very energy intensive.
Feeling is also essential because it allows you to be able to actually use your Thinking in situations of stress.
We can think of these as metaphorical Obstacles to Thinking. Two more significant obstacles are Cognitive Biases, our natural tendency to make systematic errors of judgment, and Coping Mechanisms, dysfunctional ways of dealing with past traumas.
Another important aspect of it is Balance. Thinking for me has a tendency to displace Sensory Experience and Observation as it’s very inner focused.”
“So it’s a balancing of Attention.”
As concerns Thinking itself, we can think of it in terms of Input and Output.
The Input is the formation of persistent structures in the mind. This means the acquisition, creation, and mastery of a number of what I call ‘tools of the mind‘ that allow you to manage complexity and carry out increasingly complex operations.
In terms of Output, I’m focusing on three aspects: Value Creation, Transfer [<link; short], and Antifragility.
Everything that’s colored brown on the map are skills.
This is a lifelong project, and I’ll undoubtedly be refining the map over the years.”