Talent is Overrated

If you are interested in developing exceptional skill and have not heard of Anders Ericsson, you need to look him up. His research into deliberate practice and how it makes peak performers is absolutely essential if you want to understand how people learn. Now that Anders Ericsson has his own book, I had assumed Peak would be my favorite regarding his research. At least right now, I think that is wrong.

Geoff Colvin takes Ericsson’s work and turns it into incredibly practical lessons for anyone in their life, but also for organizations looking to implement changes in their culture.

Favorite Idea

Though it is mentioned in many books, I always underline, highlight and star the elements of deliberate practice whenever I read them. If you have never heard that term before, it is a particular type of practice that produces the most rapid change in an individuals skill. Deliberate practice must be:

  • Designed specifically to improve performance
  • Can be repeated a lot
  • Allows continuous feedback
  • Highly mentally demanding
  • It isn’t much fun

This is different from simply practicing and in fact the book points out that simple experience does not produce top outcomes. The primary attribute that differentiates top performers is the amount of solo practice the complete.

Other Notes

Key Differences of Top Performers

  • They can spot indicators
  • They look farther ahead
  • They know more from seeing less
  • They make finer discriminations

Methods of Practice

  • Music Model: giving constant performance evaluations
  • Chess Model: read the case study, write down what you would do, then see what actually happened
  • Sports Model: the conditioning of general skills and knowledge followed by development of a few critical skills

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