Quotes from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

K. Anders Ericsson ·  0 pages

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“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,”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“you have to keep upping the ante: run farther, run faster, run uphill. If you don’t keep pushing and pushing and pushing some more, the body will settle into homeostasis, albeit at a different level than before, and you will stop improving. This”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“This is a fundamental truth about any sort of practice: If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“The best way to get past any barrier is to come at it from a different direction, which is one reason it is useful to work with a teacher or coach.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise



“Consider this: Most people live lives that are not particularly physically challenging. They sit at a desk, or if they move around, it’s not a lot. They aren’t running and jumping, they aren’t lifting heavy objects or throwing things long distances, and they aren’t performing maneuvers that require tremendous balance and coordination. Thus they settle into a low level of physical capabilities—enough for day-to-day activities and maybe even hiking or biking or playing golf or tennis on the weekends, but far from the level of physical capabilities that a highly trained athlete possesses.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“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.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“Even the most motivated and intelligent student will advance more quickly under the tutelage of someone who knows the best order in which to learn things, who understands and can demonstrate the proper way to perform various skills, who can provide useful feedback, and who can devise practice activities designed to overcome particular weaknesses.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“A world in which deliberate practice is a normal part of life would be one in which people had more volition and satisfaction.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“If you talk to these extraordinary people, you find that they all understand this at one level or another. They may be unfamiliar with the concept of cognitive adaptability, but they seldom buy into the idea that they have reached the peak of their fields because they were the lucky winners of some genetic lottery. They know what is required to develop the extraordinary skills that they possess because they have experienced it firsthand. One of my favorite testimonies on this topic came from Ray Allen, a ten-time All-Star in the National Basketball Association and the greatest three-point shooter in the history of that league. Some years back, ESPN columnist Jackie MacMullan wrote an article about Allen as he was approaching his record for most three-point shots made. In talking with Allen for that story, MacMullan mentioned that another basketball commentator had said that Allen was born with a shooting touch—in other words, an innate gift for three-pointers. Allen did not agree. “I’ve argued this with a lot of people in my life,” he told MacMullan. “When people say God blessed me with a beautiful jump shot, it really pisses me off. I tell those people, ‘Don’t undermine the work I’ve put in every day.’ Not some days. Every day. Ask anyone who has been on a team with me who shoots the most. Go back to Seattle and Milwaukee, and ask them. The answer is me.” And, indeed, as MacMullan noted, if you talk to Allen’s high school basketball coach you will find that Allen’s jump shot was not noticeably better than his teammates’ jump shots back then; in fact, it was poor. But Allen took control, and over time, with hard work and dedication, he transformed his jump shot into one so graceful and natural that people assumed he was born with it. He took advantage of his gift—his real gift.   ABOUT”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise



“the key to improved mental performance of almost any sort is the development of mental structures that make it possible to avoid the limitations of short-term memory and deal effectively with large amounts of information at once.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“A key fact about such mental representations is that they are very “domain specific,” that is, they apply only to the skill for which they were developed. We saw this with Steve Faloon: the mental representations he had devised to remember strings of digits did nothing to improve his memory for strings of letters. Similarly, a chess player’s mental representations will give him or her no advantage over others in tests involving general visuospatial abilities, and a diver’s mental representations will be useless for basketball. This explains a crucial fact about expert performance in general: there is no such thing as developing a general skill. You don’t train your memory; you train your memory for strings of digits or for collections of words or for people’s faces. You don’t train to become an athlete; you train to become a gymnast or a sprinter or a marathoner”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“if there is no agreement on what good performance is and no way to tell what changes would improve performance, then it is very difficult—often impossible—to develop effective training methods.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“abilities gradually deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve. So”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it. We”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise



“The main thing that sets experts apart from the rest of us is that their years of practice have changed the neural circuitry in their brains to produce highly specialized mental representations, which in turn make possible the incredible memory, pattern recognition, problem solving, and other sorts of advanced abilities needed to excel in their particular specialties.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“We can shape our own potential. Art”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“as the number of bytes in your random-access memory (RAM)”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“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. This recipe is an excellent start for anyone who wishes to improve—but it is still just a start.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“perfect pitch is much more common among people who speak a tonal language, such as Mandarin, Vietnamese, and several other Asian tongues, in which the meaning of words is dependent on their pitch.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise



“Deliberate practice involves well-defined, specific goals and often involves improving some aspect of the target performance; it is not aimed at some vague overall improvement. Once an overall goal has been set, a teacher or coach will develop a plan for making a series of small changes that will add up to the desired larger change. Improving some aspect of the target performance allows a performer to see that his or her performances have been improved by the training. Deliberate practice is deliberate, that is, it requires a person’s full attention and conscious actions. It isn’t enough to simply follow a teacher’s or coach’s directions. The student must concentrate on the specific goal for his or her practice activity so that adjustments can be made to control practice.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“The first step toward enhancing performance in an organization is realizing that improvement is possible only if participants abandon business-as-usual practices. Doing so requires recognizing and rejecting three prevailing myths.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“In a field you’re already familiar with—like your own job—think carefully about what characterizes good performance and try to come up with ways to measure that, even if there must be a certain amount of subjectivity in your measurement. Then look for those people who score highest in the areas you believe are key to superior performance. Remember that the ideal is to find objective, reproducible measures that consistently distinguish the best from the rest, and if that ideal is not possible, approximate it as well as you can. Once”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“Call it “the New Year’s resolution effect”— it’s why gyms that were crowded in January are only half full in July and why so many slightly used guitars are available on Craigslist. So”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“The most effective interventions, Davis found, were those that had some interactive component—role-play, discussion groups, case solving, hands-on training, and the like. Such activities actually did improve both the doctors’ performance and their patients’ outcomes, although the overall improvement was small. By contrast, the least effective activities were “didactic” interventions—that is, those educational activities that essentially consisted of doctors listening to a lecture—which, sadly enough, are by far the most common types of activities in continuing medical education. Davis concluded that this sort of passive listening to lectures had no significant effect at all on either doctors’ performance or on how well their patients fared.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise



“What is the exact nature of the ability? and, What sorts of training made it possible? In thirty years of looking, I have never found an ability that could not be explained by answering these two questions.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“With practice, you began to recognize entire words by themselves. C-A-T became simply cat, thanks to a mental representation that encoded the pattern of the letters in that word and associated that pattern with both the sound of the word and the idea of a small, furry animal that meows and often doesn’t get along well with dogs. Along”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“This explains the importance of staying just outside your comfort zone: you need to continually push to keep the body’s compensatory changes coming, but if you push too far outside your comfort zone, you risk injuring yourself and actually setting yourself back.”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“Imagine a world in which doctors, teachers, engineers, pilots, computer programmers, and many other professionals honed their skills in the same way that violinists, chess players, and ballerinas do now. Imagine a world in which 50 percent of the people”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


“In 1908 Johnny Hayes won the Olympic marathon in what a spectator 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. That same 1908 Summer Olympics saw a near disaster”
― K. Anders Ericsson, quote from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise



About the author

K. Anders Ericsson
Born place: Sweden
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