Training children in something as early as possible(3-5) gives them an amazing advantage in that thing as the brain is so insanely plastic.
(Its possible to do things earlier in life to build familiarity with the ability as well)
The adult brain is also amazingly adaptable(Just less so then a child’s. Some abilities such as perfect pitch must be learned before 6- with exceptions).
You CAN create abilities. Potential is an expandable thing.
The RIGHT sort of practice creates improvement, nothing else! This book explains that correct sort of practice.
Practice may effect gene expression itself!(This is the cutting edge of science- its not understood yet)
A research subject, Steve, was able to memorize 82 random digits 1 per second in real time after 2 years of training once a week! The natural “limit” is 7.
70+ thousand digits of pi is the world record for memorization.
Modern Novice level performance in classical music, sports, and many other fields is towards the supposed “limit” of performance 100 years ago.
Practice has played the largest role in this increased performance.
The rules of effective practice are the same for everything. Effective practice in any form uses what works in changing the body and brain.
Imagine the benefits if doctors, schoolchildren, EVERYONE were taught to use these effective techniques!
Deliberate Practice is the most effective form of practice. Will cover after going over normal, less effective methods.
The average way of practicing- Lessons from teacher, practice, more lessons, practice. Repeat until everything is at an acceptable level automatic.
Improvement stalls after easy stuff is learned. This is FINE for most things. But practicing this way will not lead to more improvement after a point.
(20 years of driving, teaching, etc will not lead to improvements. People actually moderately deteriorate without continued effort)
Purposeful practice- trying hard at a level that is challenging but not impossible- is what Steve did. Much better than average but still not Deliberate Practice.
Purposeful Practice – well defined goal(Can be simple!). A plan to get your goal. What will you DO to improve your x? SPECIFIC goal!
FOCUS is the defining characteristic. You seldom improve without giving your FULL attention.
Immediate feedback(Either from yourself or others) after every attempt is also key. You MUST leave your comfort zone and try to get it RIGHT!
If it doesn’t work, change techniques. This is the best way to get past a barrier.
Repetition alone does not lead to the greatest improvement. This is NAIVE practice!
Meaningful positive feedback from self or others is crucial for maintaining motivation. You need to enjoy improving yourself. You need to never give up!
Key to improved mental performance of almost any type is the creation of mental structures that takes load off short term memory and allows you to
deal with massive amounts of information effectively.
Focused practice+trying hard+ pushing your limits are a great start but it is not enough!(Ultimate method covered later)
CH 2- Harnessing Adaptability
Structure and response of brain changes with practice. IE- the brains of expert London cab drivers showed an enlarged rear hippocampus
The researchers also followed 79 who were just starting cab training- after 4 years the 41 who had kept at it had enlarged hippocampi! They weren’t born with it.
The visual cortex of ppl who have been blinded is taken over by other areas. Areas used for finger control (involved in brail reading) GREW!
People with nearsightedness were able to improve seeing skills by 60 percent due to changes in brain. No changes in actual eyes- the brain learned to de-blur!
Physical changes happen when the body is pushed hard for a sustained period. You have to keep upping the ante or improvement will stop!
The brain is similar(though most areas do not grow new neurons). Connections increase, myelin growth can increase an impulse speed by 10 times, etc.
Effective practice changes your brain so that skill itself increases. It challenges homeostasis.
Typical practice= repetition until something can simply be done. No challenge!(Still better than nothing, but not the best way)
Developing something to the extreme usually comes at a cost- IE the Taxi Drivers mentioned above saw a significant decrease in non-spacial-related memory.
Another interesting thing- retired London cab drivers saw their brains return to normal over time.
(MM- I think it would be easier for them to re-learn but the lesson here is if you are not actively DOING something you cannot maintain that skill)
Ch 3- Mental Representations
Masters develop ever more efficient mental representations. These are extremely domain specific.
There is no such thing as developing a general skill(You cant train “Memory” you have to train the subdivisions IE visual)
Mental representations: 1. Side-steps short term memory 2. Give a more accurate or more useful mental framework
What set experts apart are the quality and quantity of their representations. This is caused by years of deliberate practice.
Experts see patterns where others don’t. Without conscious thought.
Planning is very important, and experts are of course the best at it.
Maximize- deliberate practice, knowledge, experience.
(Deliberate practice requires effective mental representations and the feedback will guide how to change your mental representations)
Effectively noticing mistakes is the key to improving (And mental reps are key to this).
Improving then causes- or necessitates creating- better mental reps. Its a cycle!
Ch 4- The Gold Standard
Total number of hours of deliberate practice is the most important thing for improvement. Period. No shortcuts.
Best violin students average 7000 hours of practice by age 18.
Deliberate Practice requires a field that is reasonably well-developed(Has win/lose conditions, there are ppl who stand out in individual performance)
is competitive, has teachers that can pass on an accumulated body of knowledge. Deliberate Practice is informed by the methods of the most effective.
-Develops skills that others have already figured out how to do, and which already have effective training methods
-The practice should be overseen by an expert or coach who familiar with the techniques of the highest performers.
-Outside of comfort zone. Has students attempting goals just beyond their abilities.
-Demands near maximum effort
-Has well defined, specific goals that often involve changing aspects of target performance
-Does not attempt improvement towards some vague skill or overall performance- realizes that general improvement require advancing in sub divided skills.
-Requires FULL attention and conscious action
-Has feedback and modification of efforts in response(Usually starts off coming from coach then students learn to internalize it)
-Both produces and depends on effective mental representations
-Usually requires improving skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills
Applying the principles of deliberate practice:
-Get an experienced teacher or coach (MM- Books and expert virtual teachers if you have to. They are a good thing in any case)
-Copy and improve on the training methods of the best. Learn as much knowledge on the subject as possible.
Remember biases. Just Because someone is older, “more educated”, etc. does not mean they are an expert at all. Look for REAL experts.
(MM- All of science is in a crisis. Low reproducibility, corporate money faking studies, unwillingness to look at uncomfortable facts. Always remember this.)
10,000 hour rule is not true. Varies wildly by field.
Ch 5- Deliberate Practice On The Job
Best way to improve performance for ppl already trained and on the job: More, actually effective, training.
Train, train, train! In whatever you do. Train with simulations as close to what you do as possible. Focus on what is most important first.
Knowledge vs Skills= SKILLS every time. It’s not what you know, it’s what you DO!!!
The least effective way to improve performance= passive listening to a lecture (Faith in knowledge over skill is a problem of many professions)
Focus on doing, not knowing. Of course, you will have to do both but realize that knowledge is the easy low-hanging fruit.
It is the deliberate practice, the DOING that ultimately matters. (If you want to get good at chemistry- do chemistry problems. Learn the SKILL!)
(Good lesson from this: Trust experts who DO, not experts who KNOW. IE- A good doctor is one who has done the surgery many many times successfully)
Ch 6- Deliberate Practice In Everyday Life.
Again, find a good teacher. The best teacher you can get if you are serious. Very important.
Once you’ve absorbed all the teacher knows, find a better one.
If your mind is wandering, you wont improve! FOCUS!
Amateurs daydream. Experts focus on getting every single move perfectly right. Even in things like lifting weights.
Getting adequate sleep is vital for your focusing skills.
If you cannot get a teacher for what you want to learn, simply use all other aspects of deliberate practice and design your own challenging practice.
(Focus, feedback, fix-it). Its hard to go wrong by copying the masters and expanding upon what you learn from that.
Getting Past Plateaus:
Challenge your brain or body in a new way.
Sometimes this doesn’t work- this means usually one or two components are tripping you up. Push yourself hard to notice these, then fix them.
The highest performing did not enjoy practice any more than average person.
They simply had the ability to stay committed.
Willpower is a very situation-specific attribute. It isn’t general. The more you practice something, the more it grows.
Thinking you “just don’t feel like” practicing or cant keep going because of lack of willpower is extremely maladaptive. Practice is hard- for everyone.
You need to frame the reasons to keep going as stronger then the reasons to stop. Schedule your practice and keep to the habit!
Good planning and scheduling + eliminating distractions is very important. Ideally, you practice in the morning after a full night of sleep.
Keeping healthy physically will help you maintain focus and stamina. Once your concentration starts failing, take a break.
The more you practice, the less painful it is to do so (It never gets fun though because you should always be just out of comfort zone).
Take pride in being good at the skill you want to improve. Realize that further practice is the best way to improve.
You must believe that you can succeed and one day become one of the best.
Social motivation- the respect and admiration of others- is very powerful. Surround yourself with ppl that support and challenge you.
Deliberate Practice + a support group (team) is extremely motivating. Members of team must have same or similar goals.
Divide learning into a series of clear steps.
CH 7- The Road To Extraordinary
The world-class expert typically starts in adolescence or earlier.
3 common stages:
1.Children are shown the thing in a playful way (A toy golf club, chess pieces) then are shown the basic rules.
Children are taught hard work, discipline, achievement. Children are priased for improvement.
The parents shaped the interests of their children, even if subtly.
Having an elder child competing in something and getting praise was a common motivation as well.
2.They start taking lessons from a coach. They motivate, encourage, and keep them interested.
Long-term motivation is achieved by finding activity’s related to the skill that are fun (Group activity, usually)
Parents made expectations well known and emphasized the importance of continuing.
3. They use the skill to self-identify. It becomes their identity.
Commitment: In early teens, usually, the prospective expert becomes very very serious about their practice.
They do as much as humanly possible to improve.
Starting young gives a great advantage. Of course, you can improve at any age.
More than anything, adults just dont have the amount of time to practice chldren do.
The adult brain is more then capable of learning almost anything.
Remember “Perfect Pitch” – only kids can learn it, right?
EXCEPT a 32 year old man practiced very hard for only 2 months and learned that “impossible” skill!
Stage 4 of Expert Performance- Pathfinders (Geniuses)
Very poorly understood at the present.
Became experts in an existing field before breaking new ground. They often practice a ludicrous amount.
Creativity= hard work, focus, practice, knowledge (MM: Yes, and IQ).
The Pathfinders(Aka Ultimate Experts) are the only people who truly move their fields forward.
CH 8- Natural Talent
Everyone must put in the practice, no shortcuts! Nobody is born an expert in diddly shit!
Are some people too stupid to become mathematicians? Sure. But there are no “Natural prodigies”.
Mozart’s father was a music teacher. He was pushed towards music as hard as possible, starting before 4. He wasn’t born a musician.
Oh, and he began learning to compose at 6. That skill didn’t just appear out of the blue, it took more than a decade of intense practice.
Even autistic savants dont just receive their abilities. They obsess over their interest to a degree a normal human never would.
In fact, ppl in the 70-80 IQ range have been trained to do what autistic savants can do in regard to dates (What weekday is x/x/x?)
Again, you don’t get great at anything without massive amounts of work.
CH 9- Where We Go From Here
Deliberate Practice needs to be implemented everywhere possible.
The effects on education and performance will be amazing.
The effects have been fantastic wherever these techniques have been implemented (Physics classes, many other trials).
Telling a student what they should be able to DO is much more important than telling them what they need to know.