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.
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