How to Achieve a Winning Mindset – Observations from the Book The Art of Learning

On Focus:

Do not pay attention to outside attention. Do not pay attention to people watching you. Do not pay attention to the score. You must focus on your own performance.

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That is one message that resonated with me. If you pay too much attention to what people think of you, it can stop your creative juices from flowing. It’s easy to think you shouldn’t try new things for fear of what others will think.


On Resilience:

One of my favorite proverbs comes from Japanese culture: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

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When you run into a challenge, you must learn to give up control, give up negative emotions. Do not let any challenge disturb you, but keep an even, happy and loving attitude and stay focused on your performance. Breathe the challenge in and let it go with your exhale. You must be serene, keep a clear head, and embrace distraction.

You can use recovery interval training to become more resilient physically. I believe this practice also applies to mental tasks. Push yourself as hard as you can for a minute. Rest a minute, then repeat, slowly lessoning the recovery time. After a while, you can use your mind to give yourself the rest you need even if you can’t physically take it. Take a minute to not focus. Embrace waiting. Embrace a moment of distraction. “Just taking a break” can be very important to your overall performance.


On Mindset:

Josh mentions developmental psychologist,researcher and author Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset. I’ve also read this book, and found it helpful in the way that I approach not only my own thinking but also the way that I encourage my students.

Never tell anyone that they are successful because they are smart.

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What we learn is that linking success with being smart is not as helpful as linking success with hard work. When you believe that your IQ or natural ability determines your success, you don’t work as hard and you give up when faced with your first set back. On the other hand, if you believe that subject mastery is related to hard work, you keep fighting and evolve incrementally. If showing your weakness means that you are not smart, we get caught in the trap of perfectionism. Perfectionism is a dangerous idea that can be easily shattered. Successful people are not afraid to make mistakes because mistakes can be our best lessons, giving us t­he resources needed to move forward. Lean in to any setback, whether it is mental or physical. Josh’s way of learning is akin to non-resistance. Leave your ego at the door.

You can even think of loss, or mistakes, as an investment in your learning.

Nevertheless, keep an eye out for error. Learn from it. Avoid making the same mistake twice.

On the Goal:

Learning in itself is ­­­beautiful. It begs the question, which is more important, the destination or the journey? The test score or the effort and learning along the way?

Josh proposes that results-oriented learning goals are not helpful, expect for short-term use. Healthy, short-term goals can be helpful if balanced with a long-term learning philosophy.

We learn by pushing ourselves, by giving our all; growth comes at the point of resistance and challenge.



Josh talks about resilience and how to not only come back strong after being totally depleted of energy, but also about how distractions must be used as fuel for our learning fire. Find peace, rhythm, and energy from unplanned challenges. Integrate the distraction into your creative process. Channel a bad mood into more energy that pushes you toward your goals. Even when you make mistakes, don’t get upset. When something upsets you, don’t deny it. In fact, be very aware of your emotions, negative or positive, and how to use them to your benefit. Use the reality a funnel that adds to your momentum. Our experiences are what we make them; your perception of a so-called negative challenge is more important than what actually happened. Leave behind false constructs, or the stories that you have set in your mind. You can choose another way.

Be at peace with your imperfections.
Use your imperfection to your advantage, to create inspiration.
Create triggers that jolt you into inspiration without making mistakes first.

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Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary