Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

I discovered a few months ago this cute app called Libby that allows you to loan e-books and audiobooks using your local library card without having to log in, download the e-book, send to your device… Isn’t that amazing?! <3

When I was reading Deep Work, I added a few books in my to-read Bookshelf and one of them was Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, from by K. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. It is, so far, one of the best books involving psychological research and concepts that I have read (the other one is ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, by Daniel Kahneman).

It’s not my intention here to resume the book or to discuss every concept of it (there are so many!!). But to give you an idea, the book discusses how to be an expert in a given field through a deliberate practice, building mental representations, having the support of your significant ones and other variables.

Now I want to share with you my best part of the book. It’s the chapter 8, ‘But What About Natural Talent?’, specifically, the section called ‘The Dark Side of Believing In Inner talent’. It demystifies the belief of someone being gifted or being talented by nature and because of that, they are good at what they do.

When people assume that talent plays a major, even determining, role in how accomplished a person can become, that assumptions points one toward certains decisions and actions. If you assume that people who are not innately gifted are never going to be good at something, then the children who don’t excel at something right away are encouraged to try something else. The clumsy ones are pushed away from sports, the ones who can’t carry a tune right away are told they should try something other than music, and the ones who don’t immediately get comfortable with numbers are told they are not good at math. And, no surprises, the predictions come true [… ]. Te prophecy becomes self-fufilling.

Because we believe in that, we don’t even try. And that can prevent people from building great skills that would benefit us all as a society. That is so damaging! I was one of these children who was discouraged to study Engineering… That’s too bad that it happened, but now I understand that this is a huge social problem and I wasn’t the only one. And I am changing that now. If you identify yourself with that, I hope you are doing that too 🙂

In addition to this discussion, I think that this belief is more prejudicial in the STEM fields. I have heard so many times people saying: ‘there are some people who learn how to code really fast, they must be naturally good at it’ or ‘I don’t have a logical brain, therefore I can’t learn how to code’. Now I try to show them the learning from this book and hope that they will stop repeating that and will at least try to pursue their goals.

There is one more quote that I want to share to finish this post with a positive quote:

In the long run it is the ones who practice more who prevail, not the ones who had some initial advantage in intelligence or some other talent.

If you liked these quotes, then besides reading the entire book, you will also enjoy this free amazing and fantastic resources by Dr. Stephen Chew to apply to your practices. You are very welcome!

Hope that you get interested in reading it and if you do, share here your thoughts of it. Or recommend me another book. Cheers!