How to Master Anything: PEAK by Anders Ericsson | Core Message



I recently read the book peek how to master almost anything by authors Anders Ericsson and Robert Poole I picked up this book knowing that Anders Ericsson was the fellow who came up with the 10,000 hours to mastery rule but it turns out the 10,000 hour rule isn't a rule at all in fact simply doing something for hours and hours is no guarantee that you'll improve anders says that doctors who have practice for 20 years are no better than doctors who've been practicing for five years if they feel they've reached a level of acceptable performance in fact a nurse says those who believe that their skills are good enough and choose to go on autopilot are actually worse in the absence of deliberate practice now why is that well deliberate practice is necessary to push yourself out of your comfort zone and force yourself to come up with what he calls mental representations and er says what sets expert performers apart from everyone else is the quality and the quantity of their mental representations through years of practice they develop highly complex and sophisticated representations of the various situations they are likely to encounter in their fields for example look at Grandmaster chess players they are all able to play entire games of chess blindfolded in fact the world-champion between 1927 and 1935 could play 32 games of chess simultaneously while blindfolded to do so he had to hold entire chess board in his memory and move pieces around in his mind trying various lines of play rock climbers are able to visualize and experience each movement that they're about to make before they attempt to climb up a rock face golfers are able to condense an entire string of complex movements that make up the golf swing and replicate and represent that swing with a single thought or feeling Masters have achieved mastery because they've come up with effective mental representations that allow them to recreate entire experiences in their mind accurately predict long sequences of events in their domain and condense large amounts of information into seemingly simple mental representations these mental representations take on the form of word it's images and feelings Anders Ericsson says that more than anything else mental representations explain the difference in performance between novices and experts so what exactly is this deliberate practice Anders talks of and how does it force us to come up with these sophisticated mental representations of our craft the best place to look is at a study that Anders did early in his 30-year career studying expert performers Anders recruited an undergraduate student from Carnegie Mellon University named Steve faloona to come in to his office multiple times a week for one hour at a time to listen to a string of random digits and repeat them back to him using only his working memory his short-term memory each session a nurse would give Steve a set of digits to recall if he got that right he would add a digit if you got it wrong he would take off two digits so he'd go from six to seven to eight if he got eight wrong and go back to six to seven so that way he was always operating on the boundary between what he could and couldn't do after about four sessions Steve got to the point where he could reliably recite seven digits and many studies had shown that the capacity of human short-term memory was about seven units of information now at that point Steve tried to improve beyond seven digits session after session he would run into a wall of frustration being unable to recall more than seven digits time after time but because this was an experiment he came back each week trying to improve then one day he came in and he was on a roll he got eight then nine then ten digits in a row and finally squeaked out eleven digits by the end of the session this pattern of progress hitting a perceived limit to his abilities experiencing prolonged frustration and then having a breakthrough happened over and over again it happened at 22 digits 34 digits and all the way up after two hundred sessions Steve could recall 82 digits eighty-two that's 75 more than was considered possible at the time and he did this by activating what Anders would later call the four components of purposeful practice first he had a well-defined specific goal his short-term Tarr were extremely obvious if he was able to recall 13 digits he knew his next goal was 14 second his practice sessions were intense periods of undistracted focus for an hour all he would focus on was trying to remember digits third he received feedback after each attempt in other words his feedback was immediate and easy to understand he either got it right or he didn't and lastly he was constantly being pushed outside of his comfort zone by operating just on the edge of his abilities and he frequently made mistakes he would move up one move up another but then go back to if he failed the structured approach of purposeful practice forced Steve's mind to come up with creative mental representations the intense focus and the repeated discomfort basically conditioned his mind to believe that he didn't come up with a creative insight he would continue to suffer and since the mind is very resourceful it was only a matter of time before he would have a creative breakthrough he creatively came up with a way of seeing the numbers attached to branches of a tree this was a mental representation to condense and simplify incoming information he had to be frustrated enough to come up with a creative solution to get past his barriers at seven digits he discovered a way to see four digits as a single unit at 22 digits he was able to mentally group six digits as a single unit in other words his limits were a technique issue not an effort issue after the experiment with Steve and her started another experiment with a guy named Dario Steve's friend this time Anders had Steve teach Dario his method for encoding digits with this head start Dario was able to improve much quicker than Steve had he got to 20 digits in only a few sessions all because he was able to adopt Steve's mental representations but beyond that point Dario didn't find Steve's techniques that effective so we had to come up with some of his own but with that head start and with that framework to work on Dario was able to recall 100 digits in a short-term memory Anders Ericsson has found this to be the formula for deliberate practice purposeful practice methods plus expert coaching with this combination you get the perfect formula for improvement so if you're sick of putting in the hours and not improving at your craft turn your time into a series of deliberate practice sessions like Steve floon experience and push yourself to discover new mental representations at the end of the day simply doing does not mean you're improving mastery is not just about putting in 10,000 hours it's about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice and ER says the right sort of practice carried out over a significant period of time leads to improvement nothing else will that was a core message that I gathered from peak the book is written by the foremost expert on peak performance and if you want to discover how far your abilities can go I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book if you would like a one-page PDF summary of the entire deliberate practice method that I gathered from this book just click the link below and I'd be happy to email it to you if you already subscribe to the free productivity game newsletter this PDF is sitting in your inbox thanks for watching

22 thoughts on “How to Master Anything: PEAK by Anders Ericsson | Core Message”

  1. This was really well done, thank you very much. I appreciated the way you flowed from topic to topic and the illustrations were great.

  2. right practice technique for sufficient time. and nothing else will help.
    3 weak categories (right,sufficient,nothing) in 1 strict conclusion. bravo!

  3. Specific goal. Intense periods of practice. Immediate feedback. Constantly overcoming the boundary of skill and the unknown. It's funny because these are also the conditions for getting into flow as highlighted by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi in his book "Flow".

  4. This is great and all, but how do you apply deliberate practice to creative skills like writing?

  5. They were obviously using mnemonics. I bet they can't hold more than 10 digits using just their phonological loop.

  6. anyone who has ever accomplished anything of significance, can look back to a moment where he/she was on the verge of quitting. This moment, which invariably occurs in one's endeavor of accomplishing a goal, is the KEY moment, i.e., quit (as most will) you fail; "stay the course," however, and you will succeed. Put another way, getting through this moment is the breakthrough.

  7. I have just finished reading this book and this is a beautiful summary. Thank you. May we all achieve the right to declare ourselves Homo Exercens.

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