Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by K. Anders Ericsson [Actionable Summary]

This is a comprehensive book summary of the book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by K. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get full access and a downloadable/printable version of the summary.

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

Frustrated by your random actions and average results? You are convinced that greatness is something you are born with, not something you can acquire? Expose yourself to decades of research debunking the myth about talent – that success is embedded in our DNA. Peak (a.k.a. the deliberate practice book) explores the mindset, skills, and techniques a person needs to obtain to reach expert performance. After working with top achievers, the authors provide a battle-tested guide for reaching extraordinary results – what they label as the science of expertise.

The Core Idea:

The main question the authors tackle is this: How do the people we see on TV become amazingly good at what they do? In theory, the answer looks surprisingly simple: you get a coach, you practice, get outside your comfort zone, adjust based on feedback, you re-program your mind and finally your default actions become exceptional. This is, in short, the implication of the theory of deliberate practice – systematic and purposeful work towards a particular outcome. Is there anything else? Oh, yeah. It will take you around 10,000 hours of hard, focused work.

Reason To Read:

Here’s a good reason to read the book: You are middle-aged, married with kids, you have a mortgage, and working a job you don’t particularly like. How do you escape the corporate handcuffs and reclaim your sanity? Is there even a way out? After all, you’re too old to change careers. Not according to the authors. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool claim that everyone can master a field if they take the correct approach. In particular, the book provides a great dose of hope. It will persuade you that you, too, can become exceptional if you devote the time and use the right kind of practice.


  • No one is born gifted. You are not born with natural skills. You acquire skills through hard, focused work.
  • Just practicing can delude you that you are making progress. What you actually need is deliberate practice.
  • Believing that you can do it is immensely important when approaching a new discipline.

7 Key Lessons from Peak:

Lesson #1: The Brain is Highly Adaptable

The legendary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was – and still is – considered a prodigy.

His skills with the instruments were nothing but exceptional. And according to books, his musical career started due to his magical ability to easily recognize notes.

When an instrument was playing, Mozart could identify exactly which note was played.

Some argued that he was born with this ability, which later allowed him to become a virtuoso with the piano and the violin.

But not according to the authors.

The technical term of the note-guessing skills is called absolute pitch – also known as perfect pitch.

But Mozart wasn’t born with it. Simply, his gift was the ability to learn quickly.

Ever since he was born, he has been exposed to musical instruments thanks to his father. This early engagement was the main thing that made Mozart great.

Previously, people believed that no amount of practice would help you become good at a particular skill if you don’t have the right genes.

But after decades of research on the human brain. The authors report that everyone can transition from capable to exceptional.

We just need “the right sort of practice,” as the authors point out – the so-called deliberate practice.

Our brains are highly adaptable to the outside world. With the right training, the correct internal conviction, and ongoing motivation we can transcend any field.

The problem is not so much what cards we are dealt with when we emerge. But what we do with them and what extra we acquire along the way.

So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t think you have natural talents. Rather, approach the subject you are interested in as a topic you can learn and master.

“In this new world it no longer makes sense to think of people as born with fixed reserves of potential; instead, potential is an expandable vessel, shaped by the various things we do throughout our lives. Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it.” K. Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool

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