One of the best books I read last year was “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise” by Anders Ericsson.
If you haven’t heard of it, you still may be familiar with Ericsson’s work. Malcolm Gladwell famously credits his notion of the 10,000-hour rule to Ericsson, though it is not described by Gladwell in a way that satisfies Ericsson.
Basically, Peak discusses the best strategies for improving performance. Ericsson believes that practice makes perfect and that there is no such thing as innate talent. If you look deep into famous “prodigies” throughout history, you’ll find that all of them put in thousands of hours of work. While Ericsson doesn’t agree that 10,000 hours is the magic number, he does believe the underlying principle – if you want to be great at something, there is no shortcut to mastery, you need to put in the hours.
He also outlines a specific type of practice, called “Deliberate Practice”, that he recommends to anyone looking to improve their skills. It requires breaking down the skills needed to become an expert at something, paired with the consistent practice of those skills and immediate coaching feedback. You must keep pushing yourself, according to Ericsson, if you want to become an expert – simply repeating the motions will not suffice.
I love this.
That’s why I’m going to make deliberate practice a part of my daily routine. There are several things I want to improve on, which I won’t go into in this post, that I will begin to monitor closely. I will push myself and increase the difficulty of my daily practices, track them, ask for feedback, and keep grinding.
At the very least, hopefully, I can shave a few strokes off of my golf handicap.