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“Anyone who wants to get better at anything should read [Peak]. Rest assured that the book is not mere theory. Ericsson’s research focuses on the real world, and he explains in detail, with examples, how all of us can apply the principles of great performance in our work or in any other part of our lives.”—Fortune
Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak distills three decades of myth-shattering research into a powerful learning strategy that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring new abilities. Whether you want to stand out at work, improve your athletic or musical performance, or help your child achieve academic goals, Ericsson’s revolutionary methods will show you how to improve at almost any skill that matters to you.
“The science of excellence can be divided into two eras: before Ericsson and after Ericsson. His groundbreaking work, captured in this brilliantly useful book, provides us with a blueprint for achieving the most important and life-changing work possible: to become a little bit better each day.”—Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code
“Ericsson’s research has revolutionized how we think about human achievement. If everyone would take the lessons of this book to heart, it could truly change the world.”—Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein
“Most ‘important’ books aren’t much fun to read. Most fun books aren’t very important. But with Peak, Anders Ericsson (with great work from Robert Pool) has hit the daily double. After all, who among us doesn’t want to learn how to get better at life? A remarkable distillation of a remarkable lifetime of work.” —Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics
“Ericsson’s research has revolutionized how we think about human achievement. He has found that what separates the best of us from the rest is not innate talent but simply the right kind of training and practice. If everyone would take the lessons of this book to heart, it could truly change the world.” —Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein
“The science of excellence can be divided into two eras: before Ericsson and after Ericsson. His groundbreaking work, captured in this brilliantly useful book, provides us with a blueprint for achieving the most important and life-changing work possible: to become a little bit better each day.” —Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code
“Wonderful. I can’t think of a better book for a popular audience written on any topic in psychology.” —Daniel Willigham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of Why Don’t Students Like School?
“[Peak] offers an optimistic anti-determinism that ought to influence how people educate children, manage employees, and spend their time. The good news is that to excel one need only look within.” – The Economist
“All good leaders want to get better, and anyone who wants to get better at anything should read [Peak]. Rest assured that the book is not mere theory. Ericsson’s research focuses on the real world, and he explains in detail, with examples, how all of us can apply the principles of great performance in our work or in any other part of our lives.” – Fortune
“This is an empowering, encouraging work that will challenge readers to reach for excellence.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Ericsson] makes a strong case that success in today’s world requires a focus on practical performance, not just the accumulation of information. Especially informative for parents and educators in preparing children for the challenges ahead.” —Kirkus Reviews
--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak distills three decades of myth-shattering research into a powerful learning strategy that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring new abilities.
Ericssons findings have been lauded and debated, but never properly explained. So the idea of expertise still intimidates uswe believe we need innate talent to excel, or think excelling seems prohibitively difficult. Peak belies both of these notions, proving that virtually all of us have the seeds of excellence within usits just a question of nurturing them properly. Peak offers invaluable, often counterintuitive advice on setting goals, getting feedback, identifying patterns, and motivating yourself. Whether you want to stand out at work, improve your athletic performance, or help your child achieve academic goals, Ericssons revolutionary methods will show you how to improve almost any skill that matters to you.
Peak offers more than just practical guidance, though. It demystifies the feats of many outstanding performers, from musical virtuosos to science prodigies to brain surgeons to entrepreneurs to professional athletes. It also offers compelling evidence that our schools are taking the wrong approach to education. And it shows us a convincing new view of the enormous potential we all possess.
--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B011H56MKS
- Publisher : HarperOne; 1st edition (April 5, 2016)
- Publication date : April 5, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 4664 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 339 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0544456238
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #53,662 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2019
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Wow... and this is not the copywriter in me, this is the student, teacher, and coach speaking from here on in... wow, am I glad I got past the hesitation and bought it.
I haven't finished reading it yet. I'm at about page 175 of 300. But what I've read so far has opened my eyes, shaken up my brain, put new courage in my heart, and motivated me in ways that are more experiential than describable.
It's kind of weird, because I'm reading the book from three points of view, almost at the same time:
1) As a coach, who helps others reach their personal peaks (and often, raise the limit on what they thought their own peak was)
2) As someone who has been very successful at a few things and not so successful at all at a number of other things, and
3) As a beginner, a student, who at age 63, has started on a rather challenging journey and is eager for all the help and insights he can get.
I've reflected on my own life, and the successes of my most accomplished coaching clients. In the light of what I've read in the book so far, I realize that a lot of big wins came either from purposeful or totally accidental deliberate practice. I thought I knew what it was, but this book fills in what either I didn't know, or was mistaken about, with great clarity and care.
Deliberate practice, of course, is self-imposed focused work on raising your skill level where doing so will bring you the greatest gain. It's more than that, though. The authors politely hint about it, but I'll say it blatantly: Deliberate practice, when done right, can take you to a place of confusion and personal terror the likes of which you might never imagine, if you haven't experienced it before.
Not forever. But for at least a little while.
Not always. But it can happen. I've experienced this myself, and spoken quietly with clients of mine who were also Olympic medal winners and other world-class performers. High anxiety... happens. Sometimes.
Here's why: You're rewiring your brain. Literally. You are creating new neural pathways, rearranging the organization and use of your brain cells, and in some cases, actually enlarging portions of your brain (an example you may be familiar with if you've read any of Ericsson's previous work is the fact that the two hippocampi, the seahorse-shaped lobes in the brain, actually got larger in the heads of London cabdrivers, as a result of the ridiculously detailed amount of memorizing they had to do to get, do, and keep their jobs).
OK. So rewiring your brain -- sounds like an exciting adventure, right?
Well... partially. But you also can get disoriented. Anxious. Even very scared. Because suddenly the familiar world you were living in, is different. And as exciting as that may be (especially... eventually), it's also disturbing at times.
When the great champs say, "No pain, no gain," it's not just physical muscle aches and fatigue they're talking about. There are mental and emotional aspects to growth in skill and capability, too.
I can't recall seeing as detailed a description, and explanation, of what happens and why, as I have in this book. Ericsson and his co-author clearly took a lot of pains themselves to bring the science of deliberate practice to a new level of clarity and accessibility.
So I don't want to dwell on my own past glories or those of my clients. If for no other reason, because what's most fascinating to me about this book was how it helped me get clear on what I'm going through with the new thing I'm working on, and understand at least in general terms, what's ahead.
By the way, "10,000 hours" was either very clever promotion or insufficient research on Malcolm Gladwell's part. While it turns out that most professional violinists and most professional dancers have put in roughly that much time to achieve mastery, Ericsson definitively says (and proves) that the number varies depending on the person and what they are applying deliberate practice to. (It can be less. It depends on a lot of things.)
Which... is a relief to me. Since, at 63, if I were to put 10,000 hours going forward into what I'm doing, and I could do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it would take me over a year. But at a more reasonable rate of two hours a day, every day, it would take me over 13 years.
Hey... that's too long!
What is this labor of love I'm looking to become skilled at?
Playing guitar. I started when I was nine, and stopped sometime in my teens. Then, something came over me a year ago, and I picked it up again. I finally settled into a routine about six weeks ago.
Now I didn't get a roadmap or a timeline from this book as to how long it will take me to get how good. Nor would I expect to. But what I did get, which is so valuable to me in so many ways, is the clearest possible definition of what deliberate practice is, and how so much of the world of training, teaching, and coaching (including -- ouch! -- guitar instruction) just doesn't get it.
Plus, the book gave me a very clear idea of what to look for, what to steer clear of, and what I can do for myself.
The key takeaway is this: Deliberate practice isn't fun. But it's necessary. It's not the only practice you need or want to do, whether it's playing guitar, or any other skill you are seeking to develop. In fact, you probably shouldn't do deliberate practice on anything for more than an hour at a time -- and that's Ericsson's advice, not mine.
But deliberate practice IS pretty much the only way you can make massive and lasting improvements -- and, as long as you have reasonable health and a functioning brain, it's available to you.
Even if you're a "senior citizen," like me. :)
That's why I like this book so much. I've never seen information about advancing skills... whether a little, or to a world-class level, or anywhere in-between... laid out so clearly and comprehensively (and convincingly) as it is here.
If you are looking for "the missing piece" in achievement, you very well might find it in this book. For me at this time in my life -- I did.
Thanks, Anders Ericsson and your co-author, Robert Pool.
Nine years later, Ericsson has co-authored this book with Robert Pool in which they explore in much greater depth what deliberate practice is…and isn’t. It is an approach, in some ways a way of life, that can enable almost anyone to develop “the ability to create, through the right sort of training and practice, abilities that [peak performers] would not otherwise possess by taking advantage of the incredible adaptability of the human brain and body. Furthermore [Peak] is a book about how anyone can put this gift to work in order to improve in an area they choose. And finally, in the broadest sense this book is about a fundamentally new way of thinking about human potential, one that suggests we have far more power than we are realized to take control of our lives.”
A number of musicians have perfect pitch. Ericsson and Pool explain that it is not a gift. Rather, [begin italics] the ability to develop perfect pitch is the gift [end italics] — and, as nearly as we can tell, pretty much everyone is born with that gift.”
Although they are the co-authors, the narrative is presented in the first person because they want to establish a direct, personal, almost conversational rapport with their reader. The first half of the book describes what deliberate practice is, why it works as well as it doers, and how various experts in diverse fields apply it to develop — yes, over time — their extraordinary abilities. Next, in a brief interlude, they examine more closely the issue of innate endowment and what role it might play in limiting how far smoke people can go in attaining expert performance.
“The last part of the book takes everything we have learned about deliberate practice by studying expert performers and explains what it means for the rest of us. I offer specific advice about putting deliberate practice to work in professional organizations in order to improve the performance of employees, about how individuals can apply deliberate practice to get better in their areas of interest, and even about how schools can put deliberate practice e to work in the classroom.”
These are among the hundreds of passages of coverage of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Ericsson and Pool’s coverage:
o K. Albers Ericsson: The Digit Memorization Study (Pages 9-10)
o Deliberate practice vs. purposeful practice (14-22)
o Adaptability (26-49)
o Homeostasis (37-41)
o Bill Chase: Case Study (55-56)
o KAE: The Violinist Study (87-95)
o Deliberate practice: Differences from other sorts of purposeful practice (97-100 and 106-107)
o “Top Gun” approach (115-120, 124-130, and 130-144)
o Deliberate practice mindset (120-121)
o Knowledge vs. skill (130-137)
o A New Approach to Training (137-144)
o Reproduction of mental representations (160-161)
o Childhood of Experts (173-174 and 184-188)
o Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (211-215)
o Self-fulfilling prophecy of talent (238-242)
o Deliberate Practice: Physics education study (243-247)
o Education, learning and mental representations (250-251)
o Future of deliberate practice (247-255 and 256-259)
In these passages, Ericsson and Pool focus on various dimensions and components of mental representations:
o Planning Process (72-76)
o Deliberate practice (99-100 and 106-107)
o Pattern recognition (63-68)
o Medical diagnosis (68-72 and 128-129)
o Learning and mental representation (76-82)
o Reproduction of mental representations (160-161)
o Education (250-251)
With regard to the concept deliberate practice, that is so widely and so durably misunderstood, there is no doubt that less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (preferably under expert supervision) can help almost anyone strengthen certain skills that peak performance in a given field may require. That is not to suggest, however, that – with very rare exception –anyone can shoot a basketball as well as Michael Jordan, Ray Allen, or Stephen Curry; that anyone can play golf as well as Bob Jones, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods; or that anyone can develop skills playing chess that are comparable with those of Alexander Alekhine, Bobby Fischer, or Boris Spassky. (Let’s save IBM’s Big Blue for discussion on another occasion.) That said, it is indisputable that deliberate practice can only help someone to become their best at doing [whatever] that would otherwise not be possible.
Here are Ericsson and Pool’s concluding observations: “Ultimately, it may be that the only answer to the a world in which rapidly improving technologies are constantly changing the conditions under which we work, play, and live will be to create a society of people who recognize that they can control, their development and understand how to do it. This new world of [begin italics] Homo exercens [end italics] may well be the ultimate result of what we have learned and will learn about deliberate practice and about the power it gives us to take our future into our own hands.”
This is probably what Alvin Toffler had in mind when suggesting, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Those who refuse to learn, unlearn, and relearn will compound their illiteracy with deliberate practice.
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise is a brilliant achievement, indeed a “must read” for those who are eager to learn, unlearn, and relearn. To K. Anders Ericsson Robert Pool, I now offer a heartfelt “Bravo!”
Top reviews from other countries
Why did I love it? Because I read a LOT of books of this kind (self-help, psychology, business, etc.) and while lots of others provide good ideas or insights, this book provides a completely new way of looking at the world. That's why it's a game changer for me. From the way I am learning to dance to the way I work at my desk, the principles highlighted in this book are relevant and applicable. They say there are two tests for a good book: 1. Will I remember it in a month? and 2. Does it change the way I think about the world? This book is a resounding yes.
A fascinating read. This book gives a compelling argument against the old adage of "natural talent". In fact, there is no such thing as natural talent. Only deliberate practice leads to outstanding performance. Having read the examples and research in this book, I agree with the authors.