How to Use Deliberate Practice to Reach the Top 1% of Your Field

If you have never read Peak and don’t have time to or simply don’t intend to, this post is like a mini Cliff Notes version. The author, Nat Eliason, does a pretty good job of distilling the basic advice for how to improve from our book. As he sees it, improvement through deliberate practice can be broken down like so:

  • Find a teacher or substitute
  • Assess your limits
  • Set a reachable, smart goal
  • Practice with focus
  • Get feedback
  • Maneuver around plateaus
  • Maintain motivation


He even provides a nice little diagram that shows how you repeat the steps over and over again, improving a bit each time, until you accumulate a significant improvement.

You can find it by clicking here.


How To Produce Professional Music Within 12 Months (Instead of 4+ Years…)

Music producer John Lavido describes how he developed his skills at electronic music production. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the same path — getting better at producing electronic music — but that is a pretty specialized group. I’m including this here because Lavido was very thoughtful and thorough about applying deliberate practice, and his description of that process should be helpful to people wanting to apply deliberate practice in many different areas, not just producing electronic music.

I was particularly intrigued by Lavido’s take on the deliberate practice cycle. Because he is a musician, he came up with a music-themed acronym for the cycle: CODA. It is a very useful variation on how Anders and I described that cycle in Peak, and by putting the cycle in different language, it may help some people understand it better.

Lavido’s CODA cycle is: Clarity, Obstacles, Deliberate practice, Adjust. Here’s what he means by that:

  • Clarity is goal-setting: figure out exactly what you want to accomplish.
  • Obstacles refers to understanding your weaknesses, i.e., the obstacles you must overcome to achieve your goal.
  • Deliberate practice is really just focused practice—in particular, practice focused on overcoming the obstacles you have identified.
  • Adjust refers to getting feedback on your performance and then changing up your practice in response. Then repeat. And repeat some more.


Definitely worth a look. Find it here.


Practice Smarter: Information is Key to Improving Shooting

The topic is going to be of interest to only a certain subset of people — those who fire guns either in their jobs or as a hobby — but this article offers an excellent example of how you take the principles of deliberate practice and apply them to a particular skill, in this case shooting a gun at a target. A second part of the article talks about how deliberate practice changes the brain and is worth reading over as well.

Find it here.

How to Get Better at the Things You Care About

In this TED talk, Eduardo Briceño provides a very nice explanation of how pushing out of your comfort zone helps you improve. Briceño distinguishes between the “performance zone” and the “learning zone” — what we refer to in Peak as “performance” and “practice” — and he makes the case that you don’t improve if you never venture out of the performance zone.

Find it here.


45 Deliberate Practice Examples for Rapidly Improving Your Skills

This is a fun little page. The author, Nat Eliason, lists a number of simple ways to challenge yourself at various activities in order to get a bump in your skill level. There’s nothing particularly surprising here. The bits of advice are things like: “Record yourself singing popular songs, compare your vocals to the original to see where you need to adjust” (Singing); “Play speed games to see where your intuition gets tripped up” (Chess); “Use a cheap point-and-shoot with no controls over the camera in order to practice composition and lighting” (Photography); and “Vary up your training routine to get through plateaus” (Fitness).

The ideas all come from deliberate practice, and if there is one theme that can be pulled out, it is this: Find various ways to challenge yourself in order to pinpoint your weaknesses and bump up your learning.

Check it out here.