The Reading Room
The Practicing Mind
Thomas M. Sterner
Published: 2006, New World Library
The Practicing Mind’s author Thomas M Sterner has studied Eastern and Western philosophy, modern sports psychology, and is a trained jazz pianist. He is the founder and CEO of the Practicing Mind Institute and is a popular speaker and coach.
This book is his attempt to emphasise the importance of establishing a process while working on any personal or professional goal. The book highlights the significance of staying in the present moment, working on the process and how to detach one-self from the result.
Throughout the book the author shares experiences from his growing years. One such example which is constantly used as a reference point is about the time, he first took up music. Initially he was very distracted, frustrated at times as he was focusing only on the result (i.e. wanting to play like a professional).
During this phase, he understood the importance of identifying and enjoying the process while working on any goal in life. Eventually everything is about practicing the process on a regular basis. One noteworthy observation is how real happiness and calmness is being in the present moment at each phase of the process and how the process itself helps in forming good habits.
Further into the book, he iterates this through various examples, how the real joy of life lies in creating and sustaining the stamina to work for something over a long period of time. The goal should be the process and not the result. By doing this, one is always achieving their goal, every time the process is followed.
The last few chapters, talks about some techniques that can be used to achieve this practicing mindset.
He talks about the four “S” words which are simplify, short, small and slow. It has been explained beautifully how these four words are so inter-related. If you work slowly at any task, you will see how things get simplified and if you want to simplify something break it down into small pieces (short) and work slowly on each part.
The author explains the “Do”, “Observe” & “Correct” (DOC) technique, which is really an eye opener. It simply means “Do” a task, “Observe” the improvements required and course “Correct”, the idea of this technique is to eliminate judgement from one’s thought process. The book has plenty of examples explaining how these techniques have worked in real world.
Thomas M Sterner concludes by stating the importance of continuous growth and learning for both adults and children. He emphasises that, as adults, it is equally important to teach children and at the same time learn from them. In his words “Wisdom is not a by-product of age, teach and learn from all those around you”.
The book is a quick read, with simple and easy to understand messages. It helps create self-awareness, and in most cases re-emphasises certain simple aspects of life like discipline, importance of staying in the present moment and detaching oneself from the result, those that we have long forgotten.
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