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317 pages, Kindle Edition
First published April 5, 2016
Anders Ericsson reasons that expertise is best developed by deliberate practice and the existence of innate talent is an unconfirmed hypothesis.
Deliberate practice means doing - knowledge by itself is not indicative of expertise.
This is a positive book as its message is that the power to become great in any area is in everyone's hands.
Here are the insights.
Gaining expertise is largely a matter of improving one’s mental processes.
If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.
Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals. “Play the piece all the way through at the proper speed without a mistake three times in a row.” Without such a goal, there was no way to judge whether the practice session had been a success.
Break it down and make a plan: What exactly do you need to do. Putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal.
You seldom improve much without giving the task your full attention.
Purposeful practice involves feedback. You have to know whether you are doing something right and, if not, how you’re going wrong.
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.
The relationship between skill and mental representations is a virtuous circle: the more skilled you become, the better your mental representations are, and the better your mental representations are, the more effectively you can practice to hone your skill.
Deliberate practice requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities. Thus it demands near-maximal effort, which is generally not enjoyable.
Once you have identified an expert, identify what this person does differently from others that could explain the superior performance.
The traditional approach has been to provide information about the right way to proceed and then mostly rely on the student to apply that knowledge. Deliberate practice, by contrast, focuses solely on performance and how to improve it.
How do we improve the relevant skills?
Get some personal sessions with a coach who could give advice tailored to your performance. An experienced teacher watching you and providing feedback. Someone who knows the best order in which to learn things.
Focus. Feedback. Fix it. Break the skill down into components that you can do repeatedly and analyze effectively, determine your weaknesses, and figure out ways to address them.
Shorter training sessions with clearer goals are the best way to develop new skills faster. It is better to train at 100 percent effort for less time than at 70 percent effort for a longer period.
Cross-training - switch off between different types of exercise so that you are constantly challenging yourself in different ways.
Push yourself well outside of your comfort zone and see what breaks down first. Then design a practice technique aimed at improving that particular weakness.
Strengthen the reasons to keep going or weaken the reasons to quit.
Belief is important.