Friday, September 21, 2012

Josh Waitzkin On Being A Prodigy

Josh Waitzkin is widely considered a prodigy. He's Two-time US Junior Chess Champion, Two-time Tai Chi Chu'an Push Hands World Champion, and a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under BJJ Phenom Marcelo Garcia (He plans to be a World Champion in BJJ by 2013). He also have written two books: Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies, Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion (1995) and The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance (2008).

That's some pretty impressive stuff if you ask me. Most people struggle to excel at anything, some become world class at a single activity, but others somehow finds a way to become great at anything they do. You can definitely add him among the Renaissance men of our time. But he doesn't want you to call him a prodigy. He absolutely hates that term. Why, you ask? Well, it'll be better if you hear his reasoning straight from him:

Do you find yourself agreeing with him? I do. When you constantly hear yourself being labeled as a certain type, as much as you try to prevent it, it somehow creeps into your subconscious and tweaks your attitude a bit. Being labeled as smart, genius, or a prodigy, would somehow dampen your thirst for knowledge, if you start believing that you are actually as labeled. Believing that you already know everything because that is how smart people are, will cull your thirst for knowledge. And that's never a good thing.

If you want to listen to the whole interview, here's the link.

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