52 in 52 Book Summaries

Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool


The Essence

An expert in expertise, Anders Ericsson distills 30-years of research on how people become top performers. Peak revels that top performance is not preordained to a select few; it’s open to everyone. So long as we have a deep intrinsic interest to discipline and motivate ourselves, excellence is no question open to all. The secret sauce is all in the type of practice that one engages in to gain expertise; it’s Deliberate practice is the gold standard. By harnessing the power of Deliberate practice mastery of any field is possible. It is Deliberate practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvements—the 'talented' are simply those who after having built interest put the time.

Peak Journal Entry Notes:

This is my book summary of Peak. My notes are a reflection of the journal write up above. Written informally, the notes contain a mesh and mix of quotes and my own thoughts on the book. Sometimes, to my own fault, quotes are interlaced with my own words. Though rest assured, I am not attempting to take any credit for the main ideas below. The Journal write up includes important messages and crucial passages from the book.

• There are no shortcuts… The bottom line is that every time you look closely into cases of innate talent you find that the extraordinary abilities are the product of much practice and training.
• The brain is far more adaptable than anyone ever imagined, and this gives us a tremendous amount of control over what our brains are able to do—Neuroplasticity.
• “No one has ever managed to figure out how to identify people with ‘innate talent’. No one has ever found a gene variant that predicts superior performance in one area…We cannot just simply identify kids as ‘best’ athletes, mathematicians, or doctors etc.”
BEWARE: Belief in innate differences yields self-fulfilling prophecy.
• Strengthen the reasons to keep going, weaken the reasons to quit.
ANYONE can improve. We as humans have far more potential than ever realized. We ALL can take control of our lives!
• Find a good teacher: It puts you miles ahead. No teacher? No problem. Focus, Feedback, and Fix it will be your guide.
• If you wish to develop a truly effective training method of anything that method will need to take into account what works and what doesn’t in driving changes in the body and brain.
• Research has not found some immutable limit on performance. People more often just give up and stop trying to improve.
• The human body is incredibly adaptable.
• The fundamental truth about all practice: If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.
• Experts see the forest when everyone else sees only trees: superior mental representations through domain specific specialization may be the cause.
Mental Representations: A mental structure that corresponds to an object, an idea, a collection of information, or anything else, concrete or abstract, that the brain is think about. We have them for everything! We ought to build more efficient mental representations for whatever activity we practice.
• Skills > Knowledge
• Mindset Matters
• Honing the skill improves mental representations and mental representations help hone the skills. This is improvement reinvesting its dividends.
• Once you start automating you stop improving… Automaticity does not yield progress.

Purposeful Practice:

Well-defined, specific goals
Involves feedback
Getting out of comfort zone

Deliberate Practice-The Gold Standard

Deliberate Practice…
• Develops skills that other people have already figured out how to do and for which effective training techniques have been established.
• Is deliberate, that is, it requires a person’s full attention and conscious action.
• Involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback.
• Takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.
• Involves well-defined, specific goals and often involves improving some aspects of the target performance: it is not aimed at some vague overall improvement.
• Nearly always involves building on modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically.
• Both produces and depends on effective mental representations.

If you liked what you saw. Here are 3 titles that I recommend based on what was discussed in Peak.

  1. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
  3. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle

Find the book on Amazon: Print | Audio

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