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Scott Cluthe interviews Thomas Sterner Tuesday. Sterner is author of the newly released, THE PRACTICING MIND:Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life
In those times when we want to acquire a new skill or face a formidable challenge we hope to overcome, what we need most are patience, focus, and discipline, traits that seem elusive or difficult to maintain.
Early life is all about trial-and-error practice. If we had given up in the face of failure, repetition, and difficulty, we would never have learned to walk or tie our shoes. So why, as adults, do we often give up on a goal when at first we don’t succeed? Modern life’s technological speed, habitual multitasking, and promises of instant gratification don’t help. But in his study of how we learn (prompted by his pursuit of disciplines such as music and golf), Sterner has found that we have also forgotten the principles of practice — the process of picking a goal and applying steady effort to reach it. The methods Sterner teaches show that practice done properly isn’t drudgery on the way to mastery but a fulfilling process in and of itself, one that builds discipline and clarity.
By focusing on “process, not product,” you’ll learn to live in each moment, where you’ll find calmness and equanimity.
Thomas M. Sterner has studied Eastern and Western philosophy and modern sports psychology and trained as a concert pianist. For more than twenty-five years, he served as the chief concert piano technician for a major performing arts center. Sterner would perform delicate procedures often hundreds of times per piano with little or no room for costly errors. Being disciplined and focused were his key to survival, and became his joy.