February 05, 2021

Peak by Anders Ericsson - Book Notes, Summary, Review

Reading Time: 11 mins

Reading Peak was an extremely motivational experience for me. The idea that everyone can improve with deliberate practice no matter how old you are is a really great message.

By focusing on deliberate practice to build up your mental models you can grow far beyond a level that is simply “good enough”.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it to others.

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Who Should Read This Book?

I would recommend this book to anyone with a growth mindset.

That is, anyone who is looking to always improve themselves, even past the point of what they initially thought possible.

There is something very freeing about the idea that there are no real limits to the things you can learn or do once you can apply deliberate practice to that thing.

In a slightly more direct way, this book contains lots of references and anecdotes that would be particularly interesting to musicians, chess players, or people into sports.

If you’ve recently started learning to play the piano for instance and feel stuck with your limited abilities, reading this book will provide you with the motivation and the toolset to push past your limits.

How This Book Changed Me

I found this book very interesting and motivating to read. I highly enjoyed it.

The concept of purposeful or deliberate practice really interested me, even if I’m not particularly into sports and I’m not a classically training musician or anything!

Even with that in mind, I still found some great nuggets of ideas that resonated with me and that I would like to apply to my life as I continue to learn new things and develop new skills.

As I write this, I am just about to start learning to Crochet for the first time.

This is something I never thought I would do, but given the situation we find ourselves in with a global pandemic, new hobbies are a fun and useful distraction.

Anyway, I am going to try to apply the concepts of deliberate practice as I learn how to Crochet.

I’m not sure if learning to Crochet is something the author intended for using deliberate practice with but I’m adapting what I’ve learned to help me to learn more effectively so we’ll see how that goes.

My Top 3 Quotes That Resonated With Me

“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.” - Peak by Anders Ericsson p42

“It’s like a staircase that you climb as you build it. Each step of your ascent puts you in a position to build the next step. Then you build that step, and you’re in a position to build the next one. … As you push yourself to do something new—to develop a new skill or sharpen an old one—you are also expanding and sharpening your mental representations, which will, in turn, make it possible for you to do more than you could before.” - Peak by Anders Ericsson p105

“Anyone can improve, but it requires the right approach. If you are not improving, it’s not because you lack innate talent; it’s because you’re not practicing the right way.” - Peak by Anders Ericsson p145

Book Notes

Introduction: The Gift

“Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it” p16

1 The Power Of Purposeful Practice

2 Harnessing Adaptability

3 Mental Representations

4 The Gold Standard

5 Principles Of Deliberate Practice On The Job

“Anyone can improve, but it requires the right approach. If you are not improving, it’s not because you lack innate talent; it’s because you’re not practicing the right way.” p145

6 Principles Of Deliberate Practice In Everyday Life

“When you quit something that you had initially wanted to do, it’s because the reasons to stop eventually came to outweigh the reasons to continue. Thus, to maintain your motivation you can either strengthen the reasons to keep going or weaken the reasons to quit. Successful motivation efforts generally include both.” p195

9 Where Do We Go From Here?

“You don’t build mental representations by thinking about something; you build them by trying to do something, failing, revising, and trying again, over and over. When you’re done, not only have you developed an effective mental representation for the skill you were developing, but you have also absorbed a great deal of information connected with that skill. When preparing a lesson plan, determining what a student should.” p280