The 4 Key Habits for Mastery Josh Waitzkin Recommends Everyone Internalize

If you remember nothing else from this series, internalize these 4 habits.

Before he listed these, T. Ferriss asked JW what were some habits, interesting behavior, or rituals of the high-level clients he works with.

#1: Meditation

“An amazing way of deepening the creative process, deepening presence, expanding your energetic relationship to the world, gaining insight, and realizing that most of the thinking we do springs from mental addiction and much people’s lives are spent in an emotional swirl which is a reactive one.”
–Josh Waitzkin

I’m been meditating near daily for 2 years and it is a very powerful tool for mastering state control and the mind itself. The sitting meditation I do is Zazen and just observing my breathing. I also do a walking variation when I’m in the woods/nature where I observe my breathing and my body.

Meditation teaches you how to be proactive in the world rather than reactive. You develop what Josh calls an “internal proactive orientation” and aren’t as swayed by external events as you used to be.

It helps you tap into your “internal compass” and learn your own rhythms.

For example, do you know when you work the best? For how long? Meditation helps you connect deeply with your instinct and listen better to what your body says.

#2: Ending the work day with very high quality

We talked about this in part 3, but he delves deeper into conditioning quality by ending on a great note:

  • You condition and internalize quality overnight.
  • “You are also focusing the unconscious mind on an area of quality which it will then tap into the first thing in the morning. So this is a core habit”
  • Practice quality and you strengthen and deepen the muscle of quality

#3: Journaling

JW talks about journaling in the context of your work, but obviously you can use it to get better at whatever you want.

Analyze elements of the day that were successful and unsuccessful. End the work day by reflecting on the quality of work done. This is called postmortem documentation.

Ask yourself questions (a la Part 3). What are the core areas of the obstacles you are wresting with?

He says:

“Unless you are red-hot inspired, release your mind from the work.”

It’s very important to be able to turn it off and on. Stress yourself mentally and then allow for recovery.

Which is a great segue into #4.

#4: Stress and Recovery (Yin & Yang)

Yin & Yang right?

Being able to calm yourself as quickly as you can move into explosive movement and emotions.

“Teaching people to turn if off is a huge part of teaching them to turn it on much more intensely”

To illustrate someone who is a master at turning it on and off, he told this short story about Marcelo Garcia

“Marcelo Garica who we were talking about, one of my most beautiful memories in the World Championship. Right before going into the semi-finals, raucous bleachers everyone is screaming and yelling…he’s sleeping. Sleeping on the bleachers. You’d wake him up, he’d sort of stumble into the ring. You’ve never seen a guy more relaxed before going into a world championship fight. And then he can turn it off so deeply and man when he goes into the ring, you can’t turn it on with an more intensity than he can.

And his ability to turn it off is directly aligned with how intensely he can turn it on.

So training people to do this: stress and recovery. Undulation throughout their day.”

“Stress and recovery workouts [e.g.] interval training and meditation together are beautiful habits to develop to cultivate the art of turning it on and turning it off”

Train your ability to powerfully be able to turn it on and off. The harder you exert yourself, the more you need to be able to switch into deep relaxation. Work on quickly and powerfully undulating between stress/exertion and recovery.

Another example of stress and recovery? Knowing how and being able to cycle through Cooper Color Codes.

Harnessing Fear

Elite performers have learned how to harness fear, nerves, and anxiety. “Channel them into intensity”

The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.
–Cus D’Amato

To polish this series, one final quote from JW:

“Listen deeply, internally, to the core of your being and build your game plan from there. Trust your gut. Build the lifestyle around listening to that. Cultivate the love.

Whether you talking about the beginning of the learning process or the very final surge or surges, it’s about the love. Think about parenting. Cultivating the love, cultivating resilience, cultivating excellence, cultivating creativity. What the arm-chair professors all forget about, is the love.

That’s what I see consistently with people who have found the pleasure, happiness, and created the greatest art is that they have a profound passion for what they do. Not only the big moments but the little moments, the moments that others would call pain. They learn to love practice, the points of resistance. Don’t forget about the love.”

All the the themes we’ve talked about in this series tie together in a grand way. Can you spot them all?

Thanks for reading guys.

Other parts of the series:
Part 1: The Art of Self-Mastery
Part 2: Hemingway’s Secret to Maintaining “Creative Power Momentum”
Part 3: How to Become a Better Thinker
Part 4: [You are here]