This site is devoted to the question of how people become good at something. And by “something” I really mean “anything.” Performing music. Performing surgery. Playing basketball. Playing chess. Writing a novel. Writing a business plan. Selling insurance. Selling yourself.
Equally important, this site is devoted to spreading a simple yet revolutionary message — that becoming good at something, even really really good at something, is not a feat that is limited to the fortunate few who were born with “talent” or “potential.” No. Talent is earned, not gifted. Potential is built, not innate. It takes hard work and the right sort of practice (specifically, deliberate practice), but each of us has the power to create our own potential.
The reasons why this is so could fill up a book, and, actually, they did. That book is Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, and it is the launching point for this site.
Anders and I spent five years writing Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise. That’s a long time, but we invested that effort because because we truly believe that deliberate practice has the power to transform the lives of individuals and, ultimately, change the world. If you have not read Peak, I suggest that you do — or at the very least spend a little time perusing the FAQs since they will provide you with the basic information you need to make the best use of what you find here.
This site is meant to pick up where Peak left off. Here you will find many, many stories of people using deliberate practice in their own lives, with enough details about what they are doing that you can put the techniques to work yourselves. You will also find various aspects of deliberate practice explored in greater detail than was possible in the book.
Most importantly, this site is meant to serve as a meeting ground — a community, if you will — of people interested in improving their abilities in any area. It is a place where people can come to ask questions, but also a place where they can talk about their own experiences and share what has worked for them. One of the most powerful things about deliberate practice is that because the same principles apply in every area, people who have found something that works in one area can pass that along to people in other areas, who can then apply the insights in new ways. Thus this community is more than just a place for, say, doctors to talk with other doctors about what types of practice work in medicine or for swimmers to talk to other swimmers. It is a place where doctors can get ideas for better training from swimmers, business people can get ideas from musicians, writers can get ideas from engineers, and so on.
In our work Anders and I constantly find that talking with people in one area gives us ideas about what might work in other areas, but we are just two people. By encouraging communication and collaboration among people from all fields who are interested in applying deliberate practice to become better, I hope to start a worldwide conversation, one that ultimately leads to a world in which more and more people fulfill their potential..
Robert Pool, Ph.D., is a Tallahassee, Florida–based science writer whose mission in life is to enrich the lives of others by helping them understand the bits of science, medicine, and technology that matter and that can make a difference in their lives. He has worked at and written for many of the world’s leading science publications, including Science, Nature, Discover, and New Scientist. He is the author (or, in one case, the co-author) of four books.