Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt © 2016 · 336 pages

Anders Ericsson is the world’s leading scientist studying expert performance—looking at how, precisely, the people who are the best in the world at what they do became the best. In this Note, we take a quick look at The Gift that we all have that’s the key to our potential greatness, HOW to go about tapping into the benefits of that gift via a certain type of practice (forget naive practice and go for purposeful + deliberate!), the fact that there is no such thing as a “10,000 Hour Rule,” and why we should be called Homo Exercens rather than Homo Sapiens. :)

The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else. This book describes in detail what that ‘right sort of practice’ is and how it can be put to work.
Anders Ericsson

“Why are some people so amazingly good at what they do? Anywhere you look, from competitive sports and musical performance to science, medicine, and business, there always seem to be a few exceptional sorts who dazzle us with what they can do and how well they do it. And when we are confronted with such an exceptional person, we naturally tend to conclude that this person was born with something a little extra. ‘He is so gifted,’ we say, or, ‘She has a real gift.’

But is that really so? For more than thirty years I have studied these people, the special ones who stand out as experts in their fields—athletes, musicians, chess players, doctors, salespeople, teachers, and more. I have delved into the nuts of bolts of what they do and how they do it. I have observed, interviewed, and tested them. I have explored the psychology, the physiology, and the neuroanatomy of these extraordinary people. And over time I’ve come to understand that, yes, these people do have an extraordinary gift, which lies at the heart of their capabilities. But it is not the gift that people usually assume it to be, and it is even more powerful than we imagine. Most importantly, it is a gift that every one of us is born with and can, with the right approach, take advantage of.”

~ Anders Ericsson from Peak

Anders Ericsson is the world’s leading scientist studying expert performance—looking at how, precisely, the people who are the best in the world at what they do became the best.

Dan Coyle, who wrote The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent (see Notes + Interview), says this about Anders: “The science of excellence can be divided into two eras: before Ericsson and after Ericsson. His groundbreaking research, 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.”

← That sums it up quite well.

We’ve covered a bunch of books that touch on Anders’s concept of deliberate practice in pursuit of greatness. (Check out our growing collection here. It’s funny b/c I tagged them “10000 hours” but, as you’ll see in this Note, Anders challenges the “rule” that Malcolm Gladwell popularized. :)

I got this book the day it came out and read it the following day. I’m typing this at 6:14 am the following morning. I was GIDDY to read it and see what the master has to say about how to become a master. I wasn’t disappointed. The book is fantastic. If you’re serious about attaining truly world-class performance or helping others do so, or just interested in how to dial in your life a bit/a lot more, I think you’ll really enjoy it. (Get the book here.)

As you’d expect, it’s packed with Big Ideas. We’re only going to scratch the surface of the stories and research and practices in the book but I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the authors


Anders Ericsson

Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University.

Robert Pool

Nonfiction writer specializing in science and technology and co-author of Peak.