“Where does great performance really come from? Thomas Sterner knows — and he sees how profound the answer is.” — Geoff Colvin, longtime editor and columnist for FORTUNE, anchor of Wall Street Week with FORTUNE on PBS and author of Talent Is Overrated
“I use the techniques I have learned from The Practicing Mind every day. The approach is relevant for both business executives and their junior golf children on and off the course. I recommend it to all my students because its lessons will help them in both golf and life.” — Eric MacCluen, PGA Professional and Director of Golf Instruction at Applecross Country Club
“Thomas Sterner gives us useful, thoughtful, much-needed book on the often-overlooked science and art of practice. It blends careful research with plenty of enlightening and entertaining personal stories. Anyone hoping to excel at anything should read this. Keep on practicing!” — Roy F. Baumeister, author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
“Thomas Sterner elucidates a paradox of life: real achievement requires patience and discipline, and in order to develop these qualities one must apply both of them. He then guides us, with many practical examples from his own experience, to resolve this paradox through the application of mindfulness. Sterner shows us how to be present, how to observe without judging, and in the process, we liberate our natural ability to learn. Paradoxically, as you embrace the process-oriented approach described in The Practicing Mind, you’ll achieve better results in any endeavor.” — Michael J. Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age
“Thomas Sterner’s book has provided helpful information in all areas of my life. As a business leader, I became more effective; as a public speaker, more dynamic; as a parent, more attentive; and with my weekend hobbies, I learned to have more fun and increase skills. The Practicing Mind helped me realize that the way to get to an end was just as important, if not more so, than the end. Life is a journey and not a destination; thanks to Mr. Sterner, I love the journey.” — Ralph Citino, banking professional
“The Practicing Mind engagingly transforms difficulty into devotion, offering a practical, easy-to-understand approach that will transform your view of even the most challenging or mundane steps on your journey of life. In clear language and interesting personal anecdotes, Thomas Sterner shows us that by mindfully focusing on the process of pursuing our goals, we can let go of attachments to the outcomes we cannot control. So much suffering in our modern world could be alleviated if everyone absorbed Sterner’s very wise lessons.” — Marney K. Makridakis, author of Creating Time and founder of Artellaland.com
“In The Practicing Mind, Tom Sterner achieves a rare combination: he provides not just a clear set of practical steps for creating focused effort but also a theoretical background that can help us to reframe our expectations and values so that we can keep in perspective the difference between process and product, progress and goals. Highly recommended.” — Dr. Scott A. Davison, professor of philosophy at Morehead State University and author of On the Intrinsic Value of Everything
“In a society of immediate gratification, Thomas M. Sterner’s book The Practicing Mind almost parodies itself. Designed to be a primer for slowing down, becoming more aware of the present moment, and increasing self-discipline and focus, Sterner’s brilliance shines through in the brevity of this complex book’s pages. . . . This tiny but intense book delivers enough information to contemplate and apply for a lifetime.” — Roundtable Reviews
“Accomplished musician Thomas M. Sterner presents The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life, a guide to the concept of present moment awareness – something embraced as a vital part of a fulfilled life in Eastern cultures, yet relatively unknown in Western cultures. Chapters address how to foster desirable habits in oneself, improve skills through training and focus, teach and learn from children, and much more. “In summary, it comes down to a few simple rules. Keep yourself process-oriented. Stay in the present. Make the process the goal and use the overall goal as a rudder to steer your efforts. Be deliberate, have an intention about what you want to accomplish, and be aware of that intention. Doing these things will eliminate the judgments and emotions that come from a product-oriented or results-oriented mind. Highly recommended.” — Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WT USA)
Simple and Powerful Book – Life changing!
“I am a Book addict! I read hundreds of books per year and own a couple of hundred books in the Self-Help Category (including Psychological/Spiritual Books). I also seldom write Reviews. But after devouring this book within hours, I feel compelled to highly recommend this little gem!
Really! Thomas M. Sterner did such a great job with this book, he is not among the best known Self-help-Gurus, but his advice, combined with a clear crisp writing style are invigorating.
Be aware: This is NOT another Pink-and-Fluffy-Make-me-feel-good-Book! This is an Action Guide that will kick your Inner Rear-End into High Gear into constructing the Life you ever wanted. It is packed with practical, do-it-know steps that will move you forward in whatever you are trying to accomplish (be it in the Arenas of Sport, Finance, Self development, Managing tough Family situations, etc.)
If you will read only ONE MORE book about Life Management then grab this one, put it to work. It will help you with:
– Calming the inner dialogue, so you can focus on problem solving and even enjoy tough challenges!
– Finding the quiet and peaceful mindset needed to handle any situation, no matter how difficult (it is really that good!)
– Learn almost anything in a short time and enjoy the process (I handed this book to a friend who works in the Financial markets and he has find his way back to trade in Profit! Needless to say that he is very enthusiastic about this little Booklet)
If you know somebody who is depressed or otherwise frustrated, do her/him a favor and give this book as a Gift; they will be eternally thankful.”— Peter Cross “Reading Guru” (Madrid, Spain)
Stocked full of wisdom
“Today’s over-stimulated society is focused on multitasking to the point that we are unable to concentrate on a single task. At any given time, our minds race from events in the past to worries about the future, but we are seldom living in the present. We measure success based on where we are in relation to our goals—or where advertising tell us we should be.
Sterner argues that the exhaustion we pile on ourselves to achieve is useless and self-defeating. We struggle to achieve perfection, but perfection is a myth, as our concept of perfection is constantly changing and moving away from us. To reach one milestone means that a dozen more are lining up in front of us. Sterner’s solution is to live in the present and realize that practice is the goal, not the end result. Therefore, no matter what stage we are at, if we are practicing, we are always in a state of perfection and always successful.
Learning to take a step back from life, observe situations and direct our actions without invoking emotion make up Sterner’s “DOC” (do, observe, correct) method. He encourages us to immerse ourselves in the process of practice rather than constantly comparing ourselves to the ideal. His four “S” words—simplify, small, short, and slow—help to bring attention to the present and provide the ability to enjoy life, which is one enormous process (or practice) in itself.”– Armchairinterviews Connie Anderson (Minnesta)
Impossible to overstate how profoundly useful this book is and will be if you bother to absorb its lessons.
“Thomas Sterner is a piano technician/musician and eastern philosophy aficionado. He has a very simple and intelligent authorial voice. You get the impression that book is Mr Sterner is not the kind of person who wants to generate enormous amounts of hype and fanfare about his great idea. Just look at the number of reviews that are 5 stars. I read them and they influenced me a lot and I’m very glad they did, I may have never bothered with this book if people hadn’t taken the time to praise it. It deserves all that praise and then some. In essence the ‘practicing mind’ is a mindset of calm, presence, non-judgment and a methodic slowness. There is nothing that can’t be conquered if you practice these virtues and learn to make them habits in all of the things that matter to you.
Every other paragraph contains a gem or another and I found myself really agreeing with so much of it and thinking, ‘Yes that is so true.’ I’m so glad he crystallized it into such a succinct thought. This is an honest, generous and very very perceptive book. if you don’t get something important out of it, then you are either totally enlightened already or far more likely a shallow person.
In a nutshell:
Stop rushing, be present, do things properly with infinite care and attention, and you will be far more fulfilled than if you absorb the commercial culture around you that seeks to profit from your frustration and anger, by trying to sell you endless ‘easy’ shortcuts to fulfillment which at some level we all know don’t work.
Lastly don’t just take my word for it, read it for yourself…also if you are one of these people who hate ‘eastern mumbo jumbo’ as some call it, then this book is very light on that. It’s really down to earth and full of very genuinely helpful examples to illustrate the various points.” – CharlesA “ca uk”
“I’m just a few pages from finishing my first reading of this book and I can honestly say it’s had a more profound impact on me than any modern “self-help” book I’ve read. Not since reading Emerson’s Self-Reliance in college have I been so personally inspired by a piece of writing. The prose here isn’t Emersonian (what else is?) but the density and quality of its insights are right up there. I say “first reading” because I know I’ll be coming back to it.” – T. Stankus Jr (Durham, NC USA)
Your Last Self Help Book?
“Although I have bought and read literally hundreds of self help books in all categories through Amazon, the Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner is by far the 1st book that has compelled me to write my very first Amazon review.
There are many things that make this book stand out. It is very short, with absolutely, no-fluff or fillings, with the result that every word and every phrase really counts. Sterner’s tone is also very down to earth and easy to understand without the use of any pretentious words. The book also has a few very good illustrations and stories to clarify the concepts presented in the book.
But what I think makes the book really practical is Sterner’s realization and revelation that the key to success in any area of life is to acquire self-discipline through non-judgmental concentrated practice. Now, I know that this doesn’t sound at all like a very profound or new revelation. But if you have been searching through hundreds of self help books – like I have been for the last few years – for the one key ( or system) that would enable me to become successful in improving my spirituality, my role as husband and father, time-management, health and exercise, writing, entrepreneurship and my other personal areas of interest that are of value to me – than the Practicing Mind will be of great value to you.
The Practicing Mind – is not a panacea to cure it all – but for me it turned out to be an amazingly simple and effective system to help me to systematically and measurably improve all the areas of interest in my life.
I highly recommend The Practicing Mind to anyone that has been searching for the key – no matter if you are just starting out or you already own hundreds or even thousands of self-help books – to order this book and put it into practice
I also highly recommend you also get the audio version – as over the years I have realized that the best way to internalize the paradigms like the one presented in this book – is to listen to them over and over again preferably on a daily basis. The audio CD is read by Mr. Sterner himself and the author has a very calm and pleasant voice that helps transmits his ideas perfectly in the audio book version of this book.
Get The Practicing Mind. It might be the last personal self-help book that you ever order.” – Sergio G Laurant
Strongly Recommended for anyone pursuing a skill
“I rarely read books, but this book is so great that I’ve read it twice. I also bought several copies and gave it to my friends and brother. The book itself helps me calm down, just as it’s Chinese title suggests. Before major events such as interview or large scale competition, or during stressful times, this book really calms me and help me cool down and give my best performance. If your mind wonders around or is occupied by too many things, and you want something that helps with stress relief and be back to the presence, this book is greatly recommended.” – Yiu Yu Ho “Raymond”
I wish I could give it 10 Stars!
“How would you like to learn to let go of anxiety? To get twice as much done with half the stress? To find a way to handle intimidating, unpleasant, or even boring tasks without having them take a bite out of you?
Here’s the deal. Sterner, a musician, a piano technician, a golfer, and an all-around sage (who would probably be a really interesting person to get to know) mined what he he had learned about repetitive tasks, like practicing music and golf swings (and, I guess, piano tuning and adjusting) and put it into a little book. No frills, no fancy language, no huffing and puffing about how profound he is, his message is, or anything else. And, at least from my experience and that of the other contented reviewers here, he got it right.
Um, sorry, that really should have been Got It Right.
What he presents here is not novel – it’s been around in recorded human wisdom for thousands of years – but it is simple, direct, and easy to apply. His basic principles are: attach to process (which you can control) not to outcomes (which you can’t); accept yourself as embodying perfectly whatever stage of development you happen to be at – don’t postpone happiness until you reach/have/attain something – break big projects down into tiny tasks; open yourself to learning from those around you and to joy, which is everywhere. He lays them out in simple, functional prose that anyone can read and understand.
This little book is a giant weapon in The War Against Suffering. Read it. Do what it tells you to do. Read it again. Do more of what it tells you to do. Praise it so that others will read it. Give it to your friends.
I’ve bought books here based on the reviews of others and it was clear to me when I saw the sorry things that passed for books that someone had self-published and then gotten friends to game the process. I don’t know Sterner (my loss) and have no interest in doing anything except sharing my pleasure in having discovered this book.” – Stephen Chakwin (Norwalk, CT USA)
Succinct and clear
“This book worked for me (and yes, I’ve ready many on this topic) because the author presents the topic succinctly and without a lot of Zen fluff around the central concept. He illustrates his theory on focus and discipline with a few very understandable examples and the direction is clear. I recommend this book if you are struggling with complex issues of focus and discipline. Read this first!” – J.Boire “begin2c” (Wilmington. DE United States)
Thomas Sterner Found The Easy Button
“Holy heck! How did he get all that insight into such a quick, easy read? I don’t get that, but thanks to this book, I do get ‘IT!’ Thank you Thomas Sterner, for writing such an easy to follow guide ~ yes, it’s basically a guide to zero right in on what YOU need, and what I need, and what everyone needs! This should be a mandatory read for teens and college students ~ it will be for mine!” – Debbie Mancini-Wilson (Pittsburge PA!)
This is what I was looking for all my life
“I’ve been feeling out of place and empty inside all my life. Like many, I’ve read tons of self-help books looking for ways to fill this emptiness. I did not want to fill it with addictive substances or behaviors, but couldn’t find a healthy way to do it. This book showed me this way. It is so simple, it was right in front of me the whole life, but I didn’t get it. Last week was the most peacfull week of my life. This book is a definite must have and tons of thanks to author.” – Alex Kras (USA)
“I can’t add much to the other reviews already here, but I can mention the fact that I gobbled this little book down in one sitting, and have re-read it many times since that first reading. The size is just right, which eliminates fluff and ramblings I feel are unnecessary. Each sentence in the middle and later parts of the book is quote-worthy and worthy of re-reading many, many times. This is certainly one of the greatest books I have ever read. GET THE BOOK!” – R. Deskins (USA)
Sanity in a too busy world
“This is definitely a 5 star book. If you’ve been looking for a bit of sanity, feeling overwhelmed, read too many self-help books, then try this one. Although it is short and very readable, I don’t think it should be read quickly. That is the author’s entire point. Life is a process. Reaching a goal is about the journey, not the destination. Read a chapter, digest it, read the next chapter, digest it. I found great calmness in reading this book. I loved his analogy to sailing towards the horizon. Sometimes we become so focused on the goal that we forget that we have made progress, even though we keep moving our horizons. A small book with a great message to be read repeatedly.” – BOOK ADDICT
Invaluable tool, don’t pass up!
“I have read countless self-help books, and gained much from many of them. However, it is rare when you find a diamond in the rough in such a concise, practical form. Mr. Sterner does what many others set out to do and fall short. Namely, identify the issues and causes- BUT in this case, offer specific, immediate steps to take to apply the medicine. An outstanding tool in a small box.” – J. Devine
Answers To Years Of Frustrations
“Start with the best intention and commitment to accomplish a worthwhile goal only to see both wane in a short period of time. What causes this to occur and how to overcome it are the messages in Mr. Sterner’s book. In my opinion he is spot on in his assessment and advice. Accomplish much more with a marked improvement in peace of mind. If these results interest you, buy his book or his CD. Highly recommended.” – Mike
“Thomas Sterner’s audio presentation of The Practicing Mind has been very helpful to me as I work at “quieting my mind.” As he states in the book: there are not that many ideas in this book, just a few. This book is about truths that we all know at some level. But we need to be reminded of them on a regular basis, otherwise everyday life can steal away the clarity and perspective that can be gained by living in accordance with the eternal truths presented in this wonderful book. In my opinion, implementing the strategies explained in this audio book would probably help most people experience less anxiety and/or depression. And, very importantly, my experience so far has been that the strategies are surprisingly easy to implement. Stated differently, Thomas Sterner has presented strategies for reducing anxiety and/or depression that require a minimal amount of effort and that help to minimize the sense of struggle involved in the process. – Humanswingmachine (Chicago)
I have two people to thank
“Like other readers, I have read my shares of self-improvement books. Every time I finished reading one, I felt excited and motivated. These feelings usually last no more that 3 weeks and then I would go back to my old self. I was going to stop reading these books because I felt it was hopeless.
Little did I know that the book that helped me the most is the thinnest and has the least amount of reviews. After reading this book, I feel so peaceful, quiet and focused. For the past four weeks, I actually feel happy about who I am. I feel I am in control and focused. I find myself saying “awesome” a lot lately, because I start to enjoy my improvement in all areas. Most importantly, I enjoy life more.
The solution to my unhappiness and directionless is right in front me and yet I did not see it all these years. I tried so many times before to change myself but I failed every time. I actually convinced myself that People usually don’t change at late thirties. Mr. Sterner showed me I am wrong and the solution is so simple. It was a bit of anti-climax.
I will recommend this book to everyone . This book had the most profound impact on me. I also bought “The Meditation Mind” CD, which I like a lot. It is simple yet effective. Last, I want to thank Mr. Sterner for showing me the way. And I want to thank myself for not giving up.” – A.Choi (US)
Promising and Practical
“Originally, I left a one star review of this book, and a review that didn’t have much character or content other than a tone of “I’m mad at the world.” A couple of fellow “Amazon-er’s” called me out on it. At first, it didn’t really make much of a difference to me, other than bring about an antagonistic feeling that I had to defend my position. Maybe it was their approach, or maybe I was still too far down and out? Nonetheless, I am grateful. I suppose it was their “encouragement,” that stuck somewhere in my mind and led me to give this book another chance.
Now, I’m looking at things from a completely different perspective, and I’ve revisited this book in a new light, from this new perspective. I’ve struggled for so long to make some fundamental changes within myself, and I finally feel that I’ve got my feet on the ground and am making progress. I’ve dug up all sorts of old books to help inspire me in my pursuit, and this was one of them.
The second time around, I’ve found a new appreciation for this book because I feel it highlights pretty well most of the turning points or conundrums I’ve encountered in my quest for self-improvement, granted the author often draws from and relates everything to his own life experience, which, I admit, didn’t quite resonate so well with me the first time around; i.e., I know nothing about music. However, I have noticed some radical shifts and changes that I’ve made in my own life, “the wake left behind the boat,” if you will, quite similar to the author’s experience in college when he became again frustrated with his musical progression, and happened to come across his “5-year plan” to perfection which he had written for himself just 3 years prior. This is where he realized that the real rewards were in the struggle, in a sense, and that, at least in music, the battle could never truly be won. At first he was devastated, briefly, but then found an inner peace when he realized that he could ALWAYS continue to grow. The truth is, you get out what you put in. I had a similar “epiphany” of sorts when I recognized that I had consciously created real, lasting, and significant change in myself, and I used that as proof that I could muster up the strength to do it again if I followed the same basic steps; it was also quite inspirational to have such a realization. And now, I no longer focus solely on the “horizon.”
Finally, I’d add that this is a quick and easy read… but don’t let that fool you! Don’t over look the words of wisdom and the ideas reiterated throughout this book. It might not come to you at first glance, first read, over night, or within a year, but it’s there hiding in plain sight. I guess that’s why many of us struggle to find and incorporate them because they are so fundamental that they can so easily be overlooked, and taken for granted! My guess is that I bought this book over two years ago, and it’s only now that I’m finally realizing it’s potential. Albeit, the journey is more important than the end or the start. And I honestly can’t devote any changes I’ve made to this book in particular, because I’ve read so many along the way, before and after, which also have inspired and guided me to manifest the changes that I have, and continue working on those that I desire. But I will certainly keep this book nearby in case I should slip or need a simple yet potent reminder of how to stay or where to get back on course.
By the way, the only reason I gave this book 4 stars as opposed to 5 stars is because while I think it’s a good book, I think it can be better. However, paradoxically, I think that is part of why I think this book is, in a way, great. Writing is an art, and there is no real perfection in art, there is only freedom. While I feel this book lacks some finer details or technical information that would appeal to someone like me, who likes to think that there is only logic and reason, and little room for faith, I have grown to recognize the dire importance of having at least a little faith, at least to have faith in oneself, and in this case, to have faith in the process. I think that writing a book is certainly hard work. I’m sure there’s lots of writing and rewriting and rewriting… till you finally just give in and say, “that’s it, I’m beating a dead horse and this will just have to do, or I will go mad!” And that’s where faith comes in, it’s the first step, and it can be daunting, especially if you shy away from it. So, while I give the content 4 stars, I say “Bravo!” for putting pen to paper, and even going the (several) steps further to getting this book to the press because that, I am sure, certainly required great discipline as well as “The Practicing Mind.” – J. Clark (New Jersey)
Little book with huge impact
“I agree with the other reviewers: This book really is great. It provides you with simple tools to help you get more focused on what you do and thus enjoying even seemingly boring activities (honestly, doing dishes -of all things- never felt so great!). It made me more patient (from the book I got the expression quiet perseverance to describe patience, which, together with present moment awareness, is what this book is all about).
This little gem really boosted both my productivity and quality of life. It’s a quick read, and you can instantly apply the advice. You’ll probably get back to it often, because the skills, though simple, take time, patience, and discipline to grow but it’s a wonderful trip to inner peace and the book makes for a great companion. After reading it, you can just jump in on chapters 5 to 7 to quickly refresh all of the key concepts.
Another bonus for me: even though the book ends on a spiritual note, it is written in a very down to earth style. So you won’t find any religious, new age or spiritual hullabaloo, which put me off in many similar books.
Update: A couple of years later I’m still very grateful for this book. It has introduced me to the world of mindfulness and to the concept of Ego, both are nothing less than life changing.” – E. Collangelo
A guide to the concept of present moment awareness
“Accomplished musician Thomas M. Sterner presents The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life, a guide to the concept of present moment awareness – something embraced as a vital part of a fulfilled life in Eastern cultures, yet relatively unknown in Western cultures. Chapters address how to foster desirable habits in oneself, improve skills through training and focus, teach and learn from children, and much more. “In summary, it comes down to a few simple rules. Keep yourself process-oriented. Stay in the present. Make the process the goal and use the overall goal as a rudder to steer your efforts. Be deliberate, have an intention about what you want to accomplish, and be aware of that intention. Doing these things will eliminate the judgments and emotions that come from a product-oriented or results-oriented mind.” Highly recommended.”– Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
Bring peace back into your life!”
I was leery when I first opened this book but found myself drawn to it and suddenly done reading it. Creating your own habits is something we all need to do, but often forget that this is a choice or something we have control over. I am going to start practicing the “slowness” chapter today. I have done this in the past but it always gets away from me, and I know it works. Just taking this one step can lead to a calmer, less frenzied lifestyle which in itself gives you more patience not only with yourself and your job but with your family and friends as well. Bring peace into your life and the people you share your life with, read this book and practice some if not all of the tips and techniques that Thomas Sterner shares with you.” – Michelle Dunn “Columnist, author, credit expe… (NH)
REALLY BORING / REALLY BRILLIANT
“One can read this book like I did and conclude that it is really a no-brainer boring book. I think it depends on where you are at in your life. I am an artist who gets really messed up with how good I think my art is. I’m talking REALLY messed up. I am always looking for exciting positive quotations to lift me up and fight the good fight of being an artist, etc. This book is a God send for my kind of ailment which makes this book REALLY BRILLIANT. It is so RIGHT ON that one can totally miss the message. If one practices what Thomas is talking about like I did my art became WAY BETTER, quieter, calmer and way more enjoyable. Thank you Thomas.” – James Wilson
Many people will gain a lot from this book
“The rewards to this book are too good not to read it. I was a heavily goal-oriented person. I thought that was the ticket, and all you had to do was make sure you don’t bulldoze over people who are in your way.
This book really made it clear that I was bulldozing myself and was out of balance. All without new age jargon, etc. I think to say ‘this is the greatest book’ or ‘last book to read’ is sort of missing the whole point of the book itself.
I recommend this book for gaining a great attitude.” – SH “Picky Reader”
Most Grounded Advice ever received : Highly recommended
“I have been through a jungle of short cut ideas to self improvement and now these thoughts might just be the best ever received.
May be there is a time when one imbibes a particular advice more than ever before. May be the words are just golden. May be its a lifetime of wisdom. May be the simplicity of an idea or the way it has been delivered which has influenced me. I don’t have enough words in praise, I guess.
I have now bought close to 70 titles from Kindle and this is my first review. I am overwhelmed by this book. I feel the entire foundation of my life is on a better ground. Its most fundamental and sound advice I got. I am thankful.” – Jatin Dhawan
No Nobel Prize theory, no rocket science
“No Nobel Prize theory, no rocket science, but the most remarkable book I have read in the last years. Thomas Sterner describes a way to escape the gratification society, we are currently living in, and find inner peace by straight forward concepts like becoming more aware of the present moment. It is not one of these motivation books written by amateur psychologists who tell you some self-made theory about how to make your life better. It is written by a person having a brilliant observation of how life might work and he writing this in a very good way. He is not promising you any miracles or something like this.
In the middle of the book I thought “Why did Thomas Sterner wrote only one book?” When you finish this book, you know that this is not necessary. I would like to thank the author for this great book.” – virtualmind64