It’s an old adage you’ve heard plenty of times: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” You might have heard it enough to accept it as truth; however, the human brain is much more flexible and forgiving than we realize. Acquiring new skills and talents is associated with the young, but here’s what most people don’t know: we are able to adapt and change in incredible ways regardless of age. It just takes more dedication and willpower.
Anders Ericsson is a psychologist who has been writing about performance and expertise for a decade. Peak is the latest in his studies, co-authored with mathematician Robert Pool. The book instills the idea of “purposeful” and “deliberate” practice as a way of building a new ability. With time this practice forces you to break out of comfortable habits, learn new things or retrain your body. In the end, it is only through full-fledged commitment and making specific goals that you can explore your potential.
I would recommend pairing this book with Angela Duckworth’s Grit, one of our previous recommendations. Its teachings go hand in hand with the principles here.
Here is a summary from Amazon:
“Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak distills three decades of myth-shattering research into a powerful learning strategy that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring new abilities. Whether you want to stand out at work, improve your athletic or musical performance, or help your child achieve academic goals, Ericsson’s revolutionary methods will show you how to improve at almost any skill that matters to you.”