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Peak

Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

By Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
12-minute read
Audio available
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak (2016) is your guide to achieving expertise through regular practice. Counter to the general perception that natural ability plays a large part in determining performance, these blinks show you that just about anyone can acquire specialized skills if they practice hard and correctly.

  • Students of cognitive psychology
  • People who think they’re too old to learn new skills
  • Business managers and entrepreneurs

Anders Ericsson is a professor of psychology and Conradi Eminent Scholar at Florida State University. His work has been cited in bestselling books Moonwalking with Einstein and How Children Succeed.

Robert Pool is a science writer with a PhD in mathematics from Rice University. He has worked as a writer and editor for science magazines such as Nature and Science, among other publications.

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Peak

Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

By Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
Synopsis

Peak (2016) is your guide to achieving expertise through regular practice. Counter to the general perception that natural ability plays a large part in determining performance, these blinks show you that just about anyone can acquire specialized skills if they practice hard and correctly.

Key idea 1 of 7

With diligent practice, everyone can develop specialized skills from a young age.

It is said that Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could identify any musical note, regardless on which instrument the note was played. But few people know how he was able to do this.

Have you ever wondered how Mozart achieved such tremendous musical ability, or how some people memorize thousands of digits in pi as if doing so was as easy as knowing your phone number?

We used to think such genius was the product of innate talent or a special, spiritual gift. But in reality, anyone can acquire highly specialized skills. It just takes practice.

Consider perfect pitch, the ability that Mozart had to identify any musical note without a known tone for reference. This skill is rare; only one in 10,000 people can do it. Perfect pitch is considered an example of an innate ability. Yet a recent study found that having perfect pitch isn’t innate at all.

In 2014, Japanese psychologist Ayako Sakakibara set out to teach 24 children between the ages of two and six how to identify the 14 different chords on a piano. Several times a day, every day for months, she taught the children chords.

As the children progressed, Sakakibara tested them on individual notes. At the end of the experiment, all the children could correctly identify notes when played. In other words, they had acquired perfect pitch.

It stands to reason that with the right training, any person can learn perfect pitch, too.

This would require diligent instruction and practice, however, starting at the age of six. The point is, under favorable conditions, perfect pitch is something that almost anyone can master.

Humans can develop highly specific skills regardless of the skill in question, be it music or otherwise, because of the way the brain responds to practicing. You’ll learn how in the next blink.

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