Peak Book Summary - Peak Book explained in key points
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Peak summary

Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

4.1 (204 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool debunks the myth of innate talent and explores the principles of deliberate practice, providing practical tools for achieving mastery in any field.

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    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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    What is Peak about?

    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.

    Peak Review

    Peak (2016) explores the science of greatness and uncovers the secrets to achieving peak performance in any area of life. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • It provides insights from top performers across various fields, revealing the strategies and techniques they use to reach the pinnacle of success.
    • Backed by extensive research and real-life examples, the book presents actionable methods and practical exercises that readers can apply to improve their skills and achieve mastery.
    • With its fascinating exploration of deliberate practice and the concept of innate ability, the book challenges common notions about talent and highlights the importance of effort and deliberate practice in achieving greatness.

    Best quote from Peak

    What sets expert performers apart from everyone else is the quality and quantity of their mental representations.

    —Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
    example alt text

    Who should read Peak?

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

    About the Author

    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 FAQs 

    What is the main message of Peak?

    Achieve extraordinary performance by understanding the principles of deliberate practice.

    How long does it take to read Peak?

    Reading time for Peak varies. The Blinkist summary can be completed in just 15 minutes.

    Is Peak a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Peak is worth reading. It reveals the secrets of achieving greatness through deliberate practice.

    Who is the author of Peak?

    Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool are the authors of Peak.

    What to read after Peak?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Peak, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
    • Relentless Solution Focus by Jason Selk and Ellen Reed
    • The Leading Brain by Friederike Fabritius & Hans W. Hagemann
    • Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths
    • Do Hard Things by Steve Magness
    • Mastery by Robert Greene
    • A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley
    • The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
    • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg