PEAK- SECRETS FROM THE NEW SCIENCE – ANDERS ERICSSON 5

THE USUAL APPROACH

Let’s begin by looking at the way people typically learn a new skill—driving a
car, playing the piano, performing long division, drawing a human figure,
writing code, or pretty much anything, really. For the sake of having a specific
example, let’s suppose you are learning to play tennis.
You’ve seen tennis matches played on television, and it looks like fun, or
maybe you have some friends who play tennis and want you to join them. So
you buy a couple of tennis outfits, court shoes, maybe a sweatband, and a racket
and some balls. Now you’re committed, but you don’t know the first thing about
actually playing tennis—you don’t even know how to hold the racket—so you
pay for some lessons from a tennis coach or maybe you just ask one of your
friends to show you the basics. After those initial lessons you know enough to go
out on your own and practice. You’ll probably spend some time working on your
serve, and you practice hitting the ball against a wall over and over again until
you’re pretty sure you can hold your own in a game against a wall. Continue reading

PEAK- SECRETS FROM THE NEW SCIENCE – ANDERS ERICSSON 4

THE RISE OF EXTRAORDINARY PERFORMERS

In 1908 Johnny Hayes won the Olympic marathon in what newspapers at the
time described as “the greatest race of the century.” Hayes’s winning time, which
set a world record for the marathon, was 2 hours, 55 minutes, and 18 seconds.
Today, barely more than a century later, the world record for a marathon is 2
hours, 2 minutes, and 57 seconds—nearly 30 percent faster than Hayes’s record
time—and if you’re an eighteen- to thirty-four-year-old male, you aren’t even
allowed to enter the Boston Marathon unless you’ve run another marathon in
less than 3 hours, 5 minutes. In short, Hayes’s world-record time in 1908 would
qualify him for today’s Boston Marathon (which has about thirty thousand
runners) but with not a lot to spare. Continue reading

PEAK- SECRETS FROM THE NEW SCIENCE – ANDERS ERICSSON 3

The Power of Purposeful Practice

IN JUST OUR FOURTH SESSION together, Steve was already beginning to sound
discouraged. It was Thursday of the first week of an experiment that I had
expected to last for two or three months, but from what Steve was telling me, it
might not make much sense to go on. “There appears to be a limit for me
somewhere around eight or nine digits,” he told me, his words captured by the
tape recorder that ran throughout each of our sessions. “With nine digits
especially, it’s very difficult to get regardless of what pattern I use—you know,
my own kind of strategies. It really doesn’t matter what I use—it seems very
difficult to get.” Continue reading

PEAK- SECRETS FROM THE NEW SCIENCE – ANDERS ERICSSON 2

ABOUT THIS BOOK
This is a book about the gift that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sakakibara’s
schoolchildren, and Ray Allen all shared—the ability to create, through the right
sort of training and practice, abilities that they would not otherwise possess by
taking advantage of the incredible adaptability of the human brain and body.
Furthermore, it is a book about how anyone can put this gift to work in order to
improve in an area they choose. And finally, in the broadest sense this is a book
about a fundamentally new way of thinking about human potential, one that
suggests we have far more power than we ever realized to take control of our
own lives.
Since antiquity, people have generally assumed that a person’s potential in any
given field is inevitably and unavoidably limited by that person’s inherent talent. Continue reading

Peak- Secrets from The New Science – Anders Ericsson 1

Authors’ Note
This book is the product of a collaboration between two people, a psychological
scientist and a science writer. We began talking regularly about the subject—
expert performers and “deliberate practice”—more than a decade ago and began
serious work on the book more than five years ago. During that time the book
grew in the give-and-take between the two of us to the point that it is now
difficult even for us to tell exactly who is responsible for which piece of it. What
we do know is that it is a much better—and different—book than either of us
would have produced alone.
However, while the book is a collaboration, the story that it tells is the story of
just one of us (Ericsson), who has spent his adult life studying the secrets of
extraordinary performers. Thus, we chose to write the book from his point of
view, and the “I” in the text should be understood as referring to him.
Nonetheless, the book is our joint effort to describe this exceptionally important
topic and its implications.

Introduction:
The Gift
WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE so amazingly good at what they do? Anywhere you look,
from competitive sports and musical performance to science, medicine, and
business, there always seem to be a few exceptional sorts who dazzle us with
what they can do and how well they do it. And when we are confronted with
such an exceptional person, we naturally tend to conclude that this person was
born with something a little extra. “He is so gifted,” we say, or, “She has a real
gift.” Continue reading