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Joshua Foer: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Study Yourself Failing

About this talk

When most of us learn a new skill, we work to get just “good enough” and then we go on autopilot. We hit what journalist and bestselling author Joshua Foer calls the “OK Plateau,” where we have gained sufficient skills for our needs and we stop pushing ourselves. But experts do it differently. Looking at the research on everyone from incredible athletes to memory champions, Foer has extracted four principles that describe how to push through the OK Plateau to achieve true greatness. Watch this fantastic talk to learn strategies for developing expertise in any field.

Joshua Foer, Author

At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memory obsolete, Joshua Foer has made a compelling bid to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering with the bestselling book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

Joshua was born in Washington, DC in 1982 and lives in New Haven, CT with his wife Dinah. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Esquire, Slate, Outside, the New York Times, and other publications. He is the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world’s wonders and curiosities. He is also the co-founder of the architectural design competition, Sukkah City.

Comments (23)
  • Grace_allison

    That is why they call it the “comfort zone”. People have to have a greater vision of what is possible, and a reason for creating more. Doing more creates more visibility among peers. In a culture of fitting in going beyond the “comfort zone” has to have a bigger payoff. I enjoy the challenge however people around me would rather put their head in the sand than dream. Sad I know. 

  • Wushu4life

    what plug-in do you need to watch this video, some of my friends cant see it for some reason =/

  • jkglei

    We serve the videos through Vimeo, so they’re using the Flash plugin. If you’re using an iPhone or an iPad, Vimeo should automatically serve up the video in the alternate format that you need.

  • custom research paper

    Nice one, there is actually some good points on this blog some of my readers may find this useful, I must send a link, many thanks.

  • Patrikabra

    great talk!! It has some good points and concepts I already share. 
    It would be greater if you could choose some more languages to translate the talk =)

  • justanotherillustrator

    Great video. I also wonder, how many hours a day did Joshua Foer practice for that year leading up to the contest? Ericsson came up with the 10,000 hour rule; it would be interesting to see how many hours in a year were necessary to make a spectacular jump like that. You can never have too much information on how hard one needs to work to improve.

  • william saidac… 

    this is basically this book in a talk.

  • Sammy Nyasae

    Awsome tips

  • Lori Highby

    Excellent post.  Rather than think outside the box, Step outside your comfort zone.  More people should be thinking this way.  

  • David Hill

    You can find out about how he won the USA Memory Championship by reading his book. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

  • mani

    Good video…. but…..

    “Who would have THUNK it”
    Thunk ? Thats not even a word…(@27 seconds)

  • Az Roberts

    Honey Badger

  • Caleb Kinchlow

    This is so true! I think society has trained us just to be ok in everything. Think about when you were a child in school. We are taught go to school so you can simply get a job, the keyword here is “get a job”. Why  are not taught,  go to school so we can own a company? We live in a OK society 

  • jkglei

    Good point, Caleb. I like your perspective!

  • iPhone Microscope

    i appreciate the effort you made to share the knowledge.The topic here i found was really effective to the topic which i was researching for a long time.

  • Foreverbbs

    This is so true.The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.Rather than think outside the box, Step outside your comfort zone. More people should be thinking this way.

  • jon

    Umm. did anyone notice the 99% behind the speaker? I can already see where this guy is going.

  • Jeroneorgo

    Here are many insightful details throughout time found in this particular content but My partner and I do not know if I simply find pretty much all of them station to heart. At this time there is various truth nonetheless I really will take hold opinion until such time as I seek in to the idea deeper. Decent article , Kind regards. . ! and Since I  would like more! Included to to digg in the process


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  • Cory Boatright

    Awesome Josh… just positively awesome talk bro.

  • Sean A. Metcalf

    This is great stuff. Step out of that comfort zone, try new things, and always follow through.

  • Sam

    Gotta punch yourself out of that bag of the everyday…


  • essay

    Many thanks for such a write-up. I undoubtedly cherished reading it and talk about this it to my friends.

  • Brian Drake

    Wonderful video. Great words and thoughts. As an artist I often am asked speak about creativity. One theme I spend time with is the need to not do what we have been successful at in the past, but to push outside our comfort zone and find a new avenue to greatness. I will reference this video in my next lecture. Joshua had a great way of summing up the entire concept.

  • Vijay

    very good one Joshua 🙂 you’ve quoted various professional’s in the talk

  • Natasha Heredia

    YES!!! I an someone who has always looked for “immediate” feedback on my projects but I chronically have a problem finding people who are either willing/interested in giving it or are qualified to do so (my mom may be willing to give a, “that’s nice, dear,” to my latest photographic effort but she can’t give any opinion on the technical aspects of my choices in lighting and post-processing). I’ve even struggled to get response from online communities (i.e., Flickr-ites think EVERYTHING in wonderful and anyone who has had any success and is able to give useful critique is unavailable). As such, I tend to get discouraged, feel stale and give up learning the craft entirely. What to do then??

    • Adeel

      Ok you can try me out for feedback 🙂

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