The first book review for the That’s Gotta Hurt Book Club is Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
Author: Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books

Imagine you want to learn a new skill. Maybe it’s playing the guitar or taking up golf. This is generally the process most of us follow.

Deliberate practice has been studied for expert violin performers.

How most of us learn a skill

We start with some general idea of what we want to do. We might watch some YouTube videos or read an article to learn the basics. We might even hire a coach or teacher. We practice until we are pretty good, and then we keep doing it the same way.

To be fair, that process isn’t bad for most things we are trying to do. If we just need to be able to do it reasonably well, that process will get the job done. It won’t make you an elite performer, however.

Becoming an expert performer

While most people first heard of deliberate practice through Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, Anders Ericsson has been studying deliberate practice for decades. In his latest book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Ericsson details his research into deliberate practice and how the top performers achieve that level of performance.

Deliberate practice

Deliberate practice is the process by which you learn and develop a particular skill. There are a number of characteristics that distinguish it from what most of us do that I described earlier.

Deliberate practice takes place outside of our comfort zone. It involves well-defined, specific goals. It requires full attention, conscious action and feedback of your performance. It is not at all easy.

Using deliberate practice to become skilled at anything

Of course, while deliberate practice has best been studied for skills like chess, violin and memory training, it can be applied to just about any pursuit you have. Ericsson offers his blueprint for getting better at anything.

“Get as close to deliberate practice as you can,” Ericsson writes. “If you’re in a field where deliberate practice is an option, you should take that option. If not, apply the principles of deliberate practice as much as possible. Identify the expert performers, figure out what they do that makes them so good, then come up with training techniques that allow you to do it too.”

Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll learn in Peak.

Why 10,000 hours is no magic number to become a top performer
• The real reason why most people don’t have extraordinary abilities
• How the brain grows and changes in response to training
• What sets expert performers apart from everyone else
• Why simply trying harder will not lead to improvement
How much time you should devote to practice each day
• Why pushing past your comfort zone is critical to progress
• How to push past plateaus and start improving again
• Why mental representations are critical for getting better at whatever you’re practicing
• How to create and sustain motivation
• Why working with a coach or trainer is so helpful
• How deliberate practice can make things possible that weren’t possible before

Chess is another field in which deliberate practice has proven effective.

You can become an elite performer.

In a nutshell, no one, not even those people with supposedly genetically-determined skill, develop extraordinary levels of ability without putting in a tremendous amount of practice. That fact might sound discouraging, but it should really motivate and encourage you.

If you want to become much better, or even a superstar, in any field you desire, you can.

If you’re interested in using deliberate practice to step up your game, check out Peak.

Click here to get your copy of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

Learn more about the That’s Gotta Hurt Book Club.