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Cover image for Peak: Secrets From the New Science Of Expertise Or How To Get Better At Anything
Jaime González García
Jaime González García

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Peak: Secrets From the New Science Of Expertise Or How To Get Better At Anything

This is an adapted twitter thread that I thought useful enough to improve slightly and crosspost to Hope you find it helpful! 😁👍

We recently started a book club at our office centered around two pillars: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Personal Development and Wellness. We pick a book on each topic every quarter, read it and then discuss it. The books for this quarter are:

  1. The Gendered Brain
  2. Peak: Secrets From the New Science Of Expertise

Of the two, I started reading Peak because they have it only for a limited amount of time in Storytel my audiobook service of choice. 🇸🇪

The book is extremely interesting and has filled me with optimism and motivation to put in more work and effort to kick ass at the different endeavors that matter to me: coding, parenting, being a great husband, a good person, exercising... 😁

Here are some notes on how you can be more awesome at doing the stuff you care about.

Consistent Practice Beats Natural Talent

You can improve at something through consistent practice. The brain is very malleable and will adapt to the activities you spend your time doing. So as you practice something, you'll start becoming more proficient at it. Consistent practice and effort beat natural talent.

But not all kinds of practices are equally effective.

Just spending hours practicing by doing something will only get you so far. To become a true master of a skill you need purposeful or even better deliberate practice.

Purposeful Practice: How to get Super Good at Something on Your Own

“So here we have purposeful practice in a nutshell: Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation.”

Getting outside of your comfort zone is a key ingredient if you want to get really good at something. So push yourself a little bit harder every time.

The reason that most people don’t possess these extraordinary physical capabilities isn’t because they don’t have the capacity for them, but rather because they’re satisfied to live in the comfortable rut of homeostasis and never do the work that is required to get out of it. They live in the world of “good enough.” The same thing is true for all the mental activities we engage in

The other key ingredient to mastery is feedback: having a way to asses whether you're getting better or not. This helps you validate your learning and keeps you motivated.

Deliberate Practice: Achieving True Mastery Guided By Experts

Deliberate practice is a step over purposeful practice and requires:

  1. A well developed and rigorous field (like music, chess, ballet, etc...)
  2. A teacher that can guide and tailor your practice.

“… we are drawing a clear distinction between purposeful practice— in which a person tries very hard to push himself or herself to improve— and practice that is both purposeful and informed. In particular, deliberate practice is informed and guided by the best performers’ accomplishments and by an understanding of what these expert performers do to excel. Deliberate practice is purposeful practice that knows where it is going and how to get there.” (emphasis mine)

The main purpose of deliberate practice is to develop effective mental representations that make you more effective at learning and performing a skill. A person that can memorize 300 digits doesn't use raw memorization to do it, instead she builds mental representations to encode those digits in a way that bypasses the limitations of short-term memory. Expert teachers can really aid you in your practice because they already know the most useful mental representations in their field.

Knowing is never as good as doing. Most traditional education and learning systems focus a lot on learning knowledge and very little on putting it to practice. Deliberate practice focuses on doing. That's the most effective way to master a skill. The next time you find yourself learning something by reading a book, or watching videos consider investing your time in doing instead (e.g. building an app instead of watching someone else build an app).

An interesting fact is that deliberate practice isn't fun. Surveyed master violinists all agreed that practicing scales and other exercises that really contributed to the improvement of their skills weren't fun at all. But they practiced on because it was what was needed to become a truly awesome violinist.

Where Can I Find More?

If you find this topic interesting, here are a couple of articles that will help you get started with deliberate practice:

Or you can read the book.

Now go become a master! 💪😀💪


P.S. Fun fact: You may have heard that you need to put in 10000 hours to truly master a skill. This statement is popularly known as the 10000 rule and it was popularized by Malcom Gladwell in his book Outliers. Well Malcolm took that tidbit from the same research done in this book and the authors make an attempt to correct him in this essay: Malcolm Gladwell got us wrong: Our research was key to the 10,000-hour rule, but here's what got oversimplified

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