Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (英语) 平装 – 2016年3月31日
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For the first time in decades of groundbreaking research, the inventor of the 10,000-hour rule explains his techniques for developing mastery of any skill We live in a world full of people with extraordinary abilities. Consider what Roger Federer can do with a tennis ball, or Connor McDavid with a puck. There are chess grandmasters who can play several dozen different games simultaneously--while blindfolded--and a seemingly unending supply of young musical prodigies who would have astonished aficionados a century ago. We are dramatically better at just about everything than we were just a generation ago.We assume, though, that these peak performers are the lucky ones, the ones with a gift. That's only partly true. The fact is we are all lucky. We all have that gift. As Ericsson's whole career has shown, with the proper practice, we are "all" capable of extraordinary feats.On the surface, the techniques that chess players use to develop their skills seem quite different from the methods soccer players use to perfect their games, which in turn seem quite different from how pianists improve their playing. But at a deeper level, they are all variations on a single fundamental approach to learning, what Ericsson, a world-renowned researcher, has named "deliberate practice": a simple, yet powerful system for enhancing learning.This approach to expertise has the potential to revolutionize how we think about every sort of education and training. We are not limited by an endowment of natural talent. We create our own limits.Whether you want to step up your game at work or on the weekend, or help your kid achieve athletic or academic goals, Ericsson's revolutionary methods will show you how to master almost anything."
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Learning is the way to keep your brain sharp. Change happens every moment and only adaptable people survive. Those learn more have better understanding of the technique, so they can adjust their strategies as soon as possible. And, learning improves brain conditions. The hippocampus can grow and the neurons can also have more connections after well organized learning and training processes. In other words, brains become cleverer and more efficient after certain learning activities. A scientific experiment once conducted and found that taxi drivers in London had larger hippocampus than others because they learned the complicated routes there. Therefore, learning is a way to keep the brain health.
Learning efficiently is the way to success. The authors said, innate talent only means an easier beginning but deliberate practice and purposeful practice are the key to be expert performers in the world. They proved that those greatest figures including Wolfgang Morzat succeeded after practices. And the way how to practice makes different results. First, mental representations are of great importance, which have clear vision and goals in mind. Second, practice with right methods is a must, which can learn from those great experts who have already succeeded. Quite often, the right method might be tailored. People may feel tired since they leave their comfort zone during the learning process. Third, persistence is required, that maybe won't cost ten thousands hours but it still takes time.
To start early. Children's brains are more flexible, so it can be more efficient to start learning something at an earlier stage. For the adults, it's never to late to learn, but procrastination is always the barrier to success. Therefore, start over whenever you have the idea.
In the first part of the book Ericsson dispels the myth that most "prodigies" or experts achieve what they do by innate talent. I thought he was a bit biased against the truly brilliant individuals like Mozart which humanity has produced, but he makes the good point that even Mozart adopted certain strategies and worked very hard - often helped by his father - to become famous. Similarly Ericsson examines several other extraordinary individuals mainly in the realm of sports, music and recreational arithmetic such as Paginini, Picasso and Bobby Fischer and tells us of their intense and often grueling routine of practice. What he perhaps fails to mention is that even the intense ability to focus or to work repeatedly with improvement has an innate component to it. I would have appreciated his take on recent neuroscience studies investigating factors like concentration and mental stamina.
Once the myth of some kind of an innate, unreachable genius is put to rest, Ericsson explains the difference between 'ordinary' practice and 'deliberate' practice. In this difference lies the seed for the rest of the book. When it comes to deliberate practice, the key words are focus, feedback, specific goals and mental representations. Unlike 'naive' practice which involves doing the same thing again and again and expecting improvement, deliberate practice involves setting specific goals for oneself, breaking down complex tasks into chunks, making mental representations of paths leading to success, getting out of your comfort zone and getting constant feedback.
Much of the book focuses on those key last three factors. Mental representations are patterns or heuristics that allow you to become successful in a task and do it repeatedly with improvement. Ericsson provides examples from calculating prodigies and chess grandmasters to illustrate the utility and power of mental representations. Getting out of your comfort zone may sound obvious but it's equally important; helped in his narrative by neuroscience studies which illustrate how the brain strengthens neural connections in certain areas when you push yourself, Ericsson provides good tips for exerting yourself just a little bit more than you did the previous time when you attempt to get better at a task.
Lastly, he shows us how getting constant feedback on results is of paramount importance in becoming an expert. Ericsson calls this the 'Top Gun' method based on a reference to the elite US Navy pilots who became much better when they got feedback on their combat maneuvers at the Navy's Top Gun flight school. The lack of feedback can explain many seemingly paradoxical results. For instance Ericsson spends several pages describing studies showing that more experienced doctors aren't always necessarily better at diagnosis, mainly because they often work alone, don't change their methods and have no peers to provide feedback; in a nutshell, the work they put in daily contributes to ordinary practice but not deliberate practice. Doctors who made positive changes in all three areas were much better, and so can the rest of us. In fact it is startling to realize how little feedback we get from our daily work. Other studies from the areas of motivational speaking and business management showed similar trends; breaking up jobs into parcels and getting regular feedback on these can make an enormous difference.
As an aside, Ericsson offers a good critique of Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" in which Gladwell made the "ten thousand hour rule" so popular; Ericsson cautions us that Gladwell misunderstood many details of that rule including its limited utility as an average and its inapplicability to some of the examples he cites in his book.
Overall I found the book very readable and interesting, with scores of recognizable and thought-provoking examples thrown in. The only caveat to deliberate practice is one Ericsson himself states in the middle of the book: it is mainly applicable only to "highly developed fields" like sports or music where there have been hundreds of years of published and known case studies and data and widely agreed upon metrics for the field, and where there are several world-class experts to whom one can compare themselves when trying to improve. Ericsson himself states that the principles for deliberate practice don't work as well for professions like "engineer, teacher, consultant, electrician and business manager". I would think that these professional titles apply to millions of people around the planet, so those people will probably benefit a bit less from Ericsson's principles. Nonetheless, in a world constantly competing with itself, Ericsson's book offers some timely and well-researched advice for self-improvement.
- top experts practice more than those who are merely very good
- get an expert teacher and get lots of feedback
- practice skills, not acquiring knowledge which will comes as a result of using those skills
- but make sure you analyze so you know exactly what those skills are (he gives scant advice as to how, just examples of others who have magically done this)
- do deliberate practice, not merely practice. Again, he does a very poor job saying what this is or how to do it, just gives examples of others who have apparently done it. In short, deliberate practice means focusing on the hard parts and doing them until they're easy; but make sure you pick the right things to practice.
The author asserts constantly that talent doesn't exist, you just have to do deliberate practice. He never addresses the physical gifts that only some have that will most benefit from deliberate practice. (My example: you can practice the skyhook for 10,000 hours of deliberate practice with Kareem himself as your coach, but you'll never ever play in the NBA unless you have somehow been blessed with extraordinary physical prowess.)
The author never - and to me, this was the most important and frustrating thing about this book - he never talks about the many thousands of individuals who HAVE done some approximation of thousands of hours of deliberate practice, plus had expert coaching from any early age, plus dedicated their lives to becoming expert in their field - I'm thinking of musicians who could never rise to the level of being famous enough to pay their bills - yet never rose above being merely proficient. I've known two world famous musicians, and I can tell you: they're not like you and me! They've got something that they did not get merely as a result of deliberate practice. The author only asserts, repeatedly, that true experts all had to do many thousands of hours of deliberate practice; but never distinguishes why it works for some and not for most.