What if I told you that Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise may very well be one of the most important self-development books written in the last 30 years, at least?
Would you believe me?
The reason I can make this bold claim with any conviction derives from my own personal experience, especially as a business consultant who’s worked with thousands of leaders, managers and employees around the world. Put simply—Anders Ericsson’s decades of research and his latest book turns all of our wildly popular, but completely inaccurate, notions about human potential on their proverbial heads.
That’s because ever since you and I were little tykes we were inadvertently hoodwinked into believing that people are born with certain gifts and talents and that these, above all else, are the principal drivers of, and explanations for, their success in their chosen field. Some people, the myth goes, are simply born with innate athletic ability; others are verbally dexterous, artistically inclined, musically talented or mathematically gifted. And you either have these gifts or you don’t. And if the angels in heaven didn’t kiss your tiny forehead and imbue you with one of these magical powers, well then, why not give yourself a break? This makes it okay to try half-heartedly or give up and not compete altogether .
This limiting mindset is evident in the frequent pronouncements I hear from people, irrespective of geography:
- I’ve never been good at math;
- I’m an introvert—I just don’t have the gift of gab;
- I’m not a good writer;
- I could never be a good dancer, I have 2 left feet;
- I could never get up in front of an audience and speak;
- I could never be a salesperson;
- I’m not smart enough to do X, or
- I can’t do X to save my life!
Maybe you’ve heard people around you say these things, or maybe you’ve uttered one of these limiting beliefs yourself, or you thought about it (doubted yourself) without uttering it. I know I have, and it’s almost tragic that we ourselves sabotage our performance with such clearly erroneous thought patterns.
But read Peak and you may never talk to yourself in that way again.
That’s because Ericcson does a great job of systematically embodying the arguments of the myth of innate talent and then systematically exploding them into the thousand non-sensical shards from which they’re made. From Mozart’s musical exploits as a mere tot, to the amazing feats of savants—it’s not talent that explains these performace but the countless hours of deliberate practice, which you don’t see.
As Ericcson explains, there is no gene or gene combination—that can account for the awe-inspiring performances of an NBA star, a NASA mission engineer or a Toastmaster World Champion of Public Speaking.
In fact, in 30 years of searching for these naturals, Ericcson claims that he has yet to find a single individual whose amazing feats are NOT the result of practice. And not just any practice—purposeful, deliberate practice, carried out over many years.
The take-away is simple, yet profound.
The limits of human achievement are much higher than you ever imagined and they are largely under your power to control. You can choose to become better at anything you wish, if you commit to a program of rigorous, deliberate practice, for as long as it takes for you to get to the level of performance you desire.
Not only that, what Ericcson is telling us almost brings a tear to my eye. You see, all these years we’ve been toiling as slaves to a spurious notion about our own potential and about what we’re truly capable of accomplishing. We are so much greater than we think we are or have even dared to hope. We’ve been buying into the myth of natural talent and eschewing the real gift: that talents are NOT innate but developed and fashioned by our own hands!
After reading Peak you may experience a sense of liberation; a sense of freedom from the bondage of the talent myth.
Peak will give you wings and you will be free—to soar higher than you ever thought possible without the fear that taunted Icarus.
Read this book and take it to heart. And fly, my friend, fly! The sky’s the limit for those committed to becoming the best version of themselves possible.