“There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
— Morpheus, The Matrix
I’ll keep this short, because one theme of Peak is knowledge is cheap, abundant and overrated. I don’t want to contribute to the problem.
You’ve probably either directly or indirectly heard about Ericcson’s research, which formed the basis for Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule in Outliers.
But in Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Ericcson gets in a nerd fight with Gladwell. He claims Gladwell misinterpreted his research and that 10,000 hours isn’t a magic bullet.
To become elite at any skill, Ericcson argues, you do have to practice long and hard. But he distinguishes regular sloppy practice from “deliberate practice.”
The latter is about practicing under guided expert coaches so you gain the most from your hours of practice, rather than accumulating hours of haphazard practice.
The literary nerd fight over 10,000 hours is what made headlines. Controversy sells.
But I think there was a more important takeaway from this book, which I alluded to earlier. And that is:
Skill > knowledge.
Ericcson argues that we put too much faith in knowledge in our culture, including our education system and business training. It’s easy to organize and passively listen to a lecture. It’s not so easy to deliberately practice a difficult skill, over and over and over again.
So if you take this message to heart, stop reading, find yourself a coach, trainer or tutor, and start your deliberate practice.