Peak by Anders Ericsson

If you have heard of the “10,000 hour” principle, then you have come across the work of Anders Ericsson. The famed “10,000 hour” principle was popularized by celebrated author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers (a great work), but Ericsson finds scores of people misinterpreting and misconstruing his findings.

First, Ericsson never postulates that 10,000 is a magical number; as if one just practices enough hours, they will become experts. Second, Ericsson is adamant about the type of practice. Practice cannot be mindless, it must be deliberate.

Peak is about deliberate practice. The popular notions of natural talent, overnight successes, or mere luck greatly devalue work. Simply put, if someone is great at something or if someone is a so-called expert, it is because they have worked extremely hard to become great. They have put in countless hours (give or take 10,000) to become great. Experts do not become experts overnight. They work hard, harder than everyone else.

Now, anyone can take this information and manipulate it or disagree with it. In one podcast, Gladwell and Ericsson even disagree on how deliberate practice works. But one thing is clear, there are no shortcuts to being great. It takes a lot of work. Most people do not want to put in the work, which is why there are actually very few experts out there.

This was a fun read. Though it’s a standard book, the book felt stretched. It could have been shorter.