Secrets From the New Science of Expertise

⭐ Key Notes

πŸ€ΈπŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Chapter 1: the power of pusposeful practice

Naive practice

  • Once we reach a satisfactory level of skill and automate performance, we stop improving.
  • Additional years of acceptable performance and automaticity do not lead to improvement.
  • Automated abilities deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts.

Deliberate practice

  1. Well-defined with specific goals
  2. Many baby steps to reach a long-term goal
  3. Focused
  4. Full atention
  5. Feedback
    1. Without feedback, you do not know what or how to improve.
    2. Meaningful positive feedback is crucial to maintaining motivation.
    3. Internal feedback – seeing yourself improve.
    4. External feedback – provided by others.
  6. Push beyond comfort zone.
    1. Try something you could not do before.
    2. Often, the goal is not to try harder, it is to try something different.
  7. Approach from a different direction
    1. Work with a teacher or coach.
    2. Someone familiar with the obstacles can suggest ways to overcome them.
Get outside your comfort zone, but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Finally, figure out a way to maintain your motivation.

🦎 Chapter 2: harnessing adaptability

  • The structure and function of the brain can change in response to mental training – similar to muscle and cardio training.
  • The hippocampus is involved in the development of memory.
  • Continually push to keep the body’s compensatory changes coming.
  • Pushing too far beyond comfort zone can risk injury and setback.
  • Learning a new skill is more effective at triggering structural changes in the brain, than continuing to practice an already learned skill.

Brain training

  • Regular training leads to changes in the parts of the brain being challenged.
  • The brain adapts by rewiring in ways that increase its ability to carry out the function.
  • Effect of brain training can vary with age.
  • Younger brains are more adaptable, so training can have a greater impact.

Bent-twig effect

  • If you push a small twig slightly away from its normal pattern of growth, you can cause a major change in the ultimate location of the branch that grows from that twig.
  • Pushing on a branch that is already developed has much less effect.

Cognitive maintenance

  • Developing a skill or ability to an extraordinary degree tends to regress another area.
  • Cognitive and physical changes caused by training require upkeep.
  • Many people do not possess extraordinary capabilities because they are satisfied to live in comfort, not because they do not have the capacity.
  • Most live in the world of good enough.

Comfort zone

  • Traditional learning approached do not challenge homeostasis.
  • The traditional view is that your potential is fixed and learning simply aims to fulfil an innate potential.
  • Challenging homeostatis can force the brain and body to adapt.
  • Potential can be increased through deliberate practice outside the comfort zone.

🧠 Chapter 3: mental representations

The amount of time spent analysing positions – not the amount of time spent playing chess with others – is the single most important predictor of a chess player’s ability. It generally takes about ten years of this sort of practice to reach the level of grandmaster.
  • Mental representation – a mental structure that corresponds to an object, an idea, or a collection of information, that the brain is thinking about.
  • Deliberate practice involves developing mental representations.
  • Mental representation make it possible to process large amounts of information quickly, despite the limitations of short-term memory.
  • The quality and quantity of mental representations distinguishes experts from others.
  • Through years of practice, experts develop highly complex mental represenations, allowing faster and more accurate decisions.
  • Neural circuitry can change with years of deliberate practice.

Developing mental representations

  • The more you study, the more detailed your mental representations.
  • Better mental representations make you better at assimilating new information.
  • To write well – develop a mental representation ahead of time and guide your efforts.
  • Modify the representation over time.

πŸ₯‡ Chapter 4: the gold standard

  • Nobody develops extraordinary abilities without putting in tremendous amounts of practice.
  • Deliberate practice requires a teacher who can provide activities designed to improve performance.
  • The performers’ accomplishments guide deliberae practice.
  • Understanding of what experts do to excel drives purpose, by knowing where to go and how to get there.
  • It is important to understand what distinguishes expert performers from the rest in the field.

Traits of deliberate practice

  1. Others have already figured out how to develop the skill and effective training techniques have been established.
    1. Practice should be designed and overseen by a teacher or coach, who is familiar with the abilities of expert performers.
  2. Venture outside comfort zone to try things beyound your current abilities.
    1. Demands near-maximal effort.
    2. Often not enjoyable.
  3. Well-defined and specific goals have been established.
    1. Develop a plan for making a series of small changes that accumulate to a bigger goal.
    2. Measurable performance allows a performer to see progress.
  4. Requires full attention and focus.
    1. Concentrate on the specific goal and make adjustments to control practice.
  5. Feedback and modification to efforts in response to that feedback.
    1. Initial feedback will come from the coach.
    2. With time and experience, students must learn to monitor themselves, identify mistakes, and adjust.
  6. Produces and depends on effective mental representations.
    1. With practice, mental representations become more detailed effective.
    2. More effective representations allow the student to improve even more.
  7. Involves building or modifying previously acquired skills.
    1. Skills are built on top of existing skills.
    2. It is important to provide beginners with the correct fundamental skills.

Seeking experts

  • Be careful when identifying expert performers.
  • In many fields, the experts do not reliably perform better than others.
  • Determine an objective measure of performance to compare abilities (or as close as possible).
  • Ask professionals – who they would seek for help with a particularly difficult situation.

πŸ’Ό Chapter 5: principles of deliberate practice on the job

Reject three prevailing myths

  1. The belief that one’s abilities are limited by genetically prescribed characteristics.
  2. If you do something for long enough, you will become better at it.
  3. All it takes to improve is effort – if you try hard enough, you will get better.

Deliberate practice mindset

  • Anyone can improve.
  • Improvement requires the right approach – the right way of practicing.
  • Business professionals tend to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills.
  • Tradition and convenience makes it easier to present knowledge to a large group of people, rather than setup conditions for skill deevlopment through deliberate practice.

🏑 Chapter 6: principles of deliberate practice in everyday life

  • Keep moving forward.
  • Change teachers as you grow or plateau.
  • Shorter training sessions with clearer goals arethe best way to develop new skills faster – focus and concentrate.
  • Practice effectively without a teacher – Focus, Feedback, Fix it.
  • Decompose the skill – break down into components that can be done repeatedly and analysed effectively.
  • Determine weaknesses and how to address them.

Break the plateau

  • The best way to move beyond a plateau is to challenge your brain and body in a new way.
  • Complex skills require a variety of components.
  • At the point of greatest difficulty, it may only be a few components of the skill holding you back – not all of them.
  • To figure out the blocking components – push yourself a little harder than usual and see observe where you fail.
  • Design a practice technique aimed at improving a particular weakness.

Maintain consistency

Anyone who hopes to improve a skill should devote an hour or more each day, to practice that can be done with full concentration.
  • Maintain motivation – strengthen reasons to keep going, or weaken the reasons to quit.
  • Good planning – avoid the pitfalls that may lead to less time on practice.
  • Eliminate interference – minimise the influence of anything that might interfere with your training.

πŸ›£ Chapter 7: the road to extraordinary

  • Chikdren are introducd to their field of interest in a palyful way.
  • Parents of experts play a crucial role in development.
  • Parents give their children a great deal of time, attention, and encouragement.
  • Parents tend to be achievement-oriented and teach their children values such as self-discipline, hard work, responsibility, and spending time constructively.


  • Praise provides motivation to reinforce behaviours.
  • The satisfaction of having developed a skill – especially if achieevement is acknowledged by parents.
  • A child who sees an older siblibg perform well and receive praise, will naturally want to join and garner attention.
  • Sibling competition can be motivating in itself.

Teachers and coaches

  • Once a student becomes interested and shows interest in an area – take lessons.
  • Helping children to develop mental representations can increase motivation by appreciating the skill.


  • In the early teens, students must make a commitment to be the best they can be.
  • Motivation lies solely with the student, although family may play a support role.

Beyond existing knowledge

  • Make unique contributions to area of expertise.
  • Researchers who study creative geniuses come up with their own innovations.
  • This is a long, slow, and itterative process.
  • Creativity goes hand in hand with the ability to work hard an maintain focus for long periods of time.

πŸ‘ΆπŸ» Chapter 8: but what about natural talent?

  • There is no convincing evidence that extraordinary abilities develop without intense and extended practice.
  • All abilities can be explained with two questions:
  • What is the exact nature of the ability?
  • What sorts of training is made possible?
  • People stop learning and improving because they stop practicing, not because of innate limits.
  • In the long-run, those who practice will prevail.

🧭 Chapter 9: where do we go from here?

  • When teaching a skill – break the lesson into a series of steps that students can master one at a time.
  • Build towards the ultimate objective in small steps.
  • Begin by identifying what students should learn how to do – skills, not knowledge.
  • Examine how the experts learn and practice.
  • Understand as much as possible about the mental representations used by experts.
  • Keep students slightly outside their comfort zone.
  • Offer plenty of repetition and feedback.

πŸ“Ή Video Summary

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