In the book Peak, Anders Ericsson compiles what the pioneer researcher on purposeful practice has learnt about expert performance through decades of inquiry and study of what distinguishes average people from world-class performers. Practice with intention. This concept offers an alternative to the long-held belief that world-class achievement is the product of intrinsic skill and talent. In this field, Anders Ericsson is the genuine pioneer. The 10,0000-hour rule is based on his studies, and he's been studying peak performance for decades. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, which he published in 2016, was the culmination of what he'd learned thus far.
Professionals use a four-part technique to practice with purpose. Anders Ericsson conducted research with Steve, one of his undergraduate students. The idea was to determine if Steve could enhance his ability to memorize a series of numbers significantly. When they first started working together, Steve remembered the average length that most people can remember — seven digits in a row. Steve had never had any memory training and was not very gifted with numbers. Steve could remember numerical sequences up to 82 digits long by the end of the trial, which took many months. What occurred in the interim? Steve's practice environment was shaped by four factors in particular:
1. He had a definite aim in mind: to memorize more numbers.
2. During practice, Steve remained focused. The numbers were read to him at one-second intervals by a researcher. There were no obstructive factors.
3. Ericsson was always pushing him to do more. When he had 32 digits, they'd start over the next session with 32 and work their way up to 33.
4. Finally, Steve received comments after each try, detailing his performance.
The combination of these four factors creates a training environment that Ericsson refers to as "purposeful practice." Purposeful practice, on the other hand, is merely a stepping stone. Two more things must occur in order for the genuine deal to take place.
When practice is led and done in a well-developed field, it becomes deliberate. Climbing a ladder with an endless number of rungs from an average performance to a world-class performer is like climbing a ladder with an unlimited number of rungs. The difference between decent and exceptional is how quickly you can advance to the next rung, as well as how many you can skip entirely. This occurs when your practice shifts from purposeful to deliberate, which necessitates the convergence of two elements:
1. Your practice should take place in a well-established field. It's preferable if it's been around for a while and you have access to more seasoned professionals. It's a good sign if there's a noticeable difference in performance between beginners and professionals.
2. Your practice should be guided by a trainer, coach, or mentor who can teach you the skills you need to succeed.
Using the advice of someone who has access to a large portion of your field's resources and strategies transforms your practice from deliberate to informed - and that's what makes it intentional.
Even the finest abilities in the world are the culmination of years of diligent work. Ericsson claims that there is no evidence that intrinsic talent exists, and that even the most skilled among us are the result of years of deliberate preparation. For example, Mozart was not just gifted, but also well-trained. Starting before he was four years old, he had outstanding training, mainly from his father. Mozart, according to popular opinion, did not begin composing “proper” music until he was in his adolescent years, by which time he had already put in a decade of focused practice. Furthermore, even if you believe others are “more naturals” than you, careful practice can help you become world-class. It doesn't matter if our starting points are different or not: the person who practices the most and does so deliberately wins. So, instead of whining, start calling possible mentors!