CM 039: Anders Ericsson on Peak Performance

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Blog Post - Anders EricssonIf you are searching for your natural talents, think again. Award-winning psychologist, Anders Ericsson, is reshaping our conception of innate ability versus learned skills. Anders has spent decades unearthing the secrets of expertise, and his research shows that the experts sitting at the top of most fields do not have more innate ability than their peers, they have more time spent in guided practice.

Anders shares his fascinating findings in his book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Along the way, he corrects our misconceptions around 10,000 hours of practice, and helps us see how we can master just about any skill at any age. He also points out how important it will be to understand high performance as we change jobs and careers with increasing frequency.

In this conversation, we talk about:

  • The myth of the prodigy or naturally talented performer
  • Choosing a goal and pursuing it rather than waiting to find a particular gift or talent
  • The advantages for children when parents enjoy the skill they are teaching
  • How gaining expertise in one area helps us gain expertise in other areas
  • What high performers do that is different from the rest of us
  • Differences in our brains as we shift from amateur to expert
  • The difference between what experts and novices do with information
  • How hard it is to get good by yourself and why nothing beats an expert teacher

Anders plans to spend more time learning about the kind of concentration involved in deliberate practice. He hopes to develop ways for us to find the time and energy to engage in the kinds of training and to develop the kinds of habits needed to perform at the highest level.

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned

Improvement in Memory Span by Pauline Martine and Samuel Fernberger (1929)

William G. Chase

The Knowledge London cab drivers test

Alexander Alekhine

Mental representations

Top Gun Project

Guitar Zero by Gary Marcus

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo!

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2 Comments

  1. […] CM 039: Anders Ericsson on Peak Performance – was simply fascinating. Deliberate practice and expert teachers are still important. […]



  2. Gayle on August 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Yes! And so important to connect with experts in the field, in order to learn how they practice and who their teachers are. There’s a social/connecting side to developing expertise that struck me as important. Helps us overcome stories of the isolated genius.