Deliberate practice is a term that has become common place now in the lexicon of success. I found these six books to be illuminating and insightful. In combination they cover the waterfront of peak performance. Here are the six books that can give you the complete view on peak performance.
Talent is overrated by Geoff Colvin – This is the best book I have read on the subject. Why don’t people lead teams like Jack Welch or play golf like Tiger Woods? The real reason for success is deliberate practice. It is absolutely hard work and what does it take to sustain the passion. First you have to know what you want because unless you really know it you will not be able to sustain the passion for the long haul. You also need to believe you can put in the effort to get the results you wanted. Here is my review of the book. Talent is overrated
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle – It is deep practice that is the key. Myelin is the key nerve fiber that gets enhanced with deep practice. Some consider myelin to be the holy grail of acquiring skill. The bottom line is the better you practice the better you become. The other point of deep practice is you have to be open to be uncomfortable and go through error. For example Brazil produces great players in football because they practiced in a certain way that improves ball handling skill faster than anywhere else in the world. The next key is ignition which means the surroundings or role models. The first South Korean woman golfer (Se Ri Pak) won a LPGA tournament in 1998 and that resulted in forty-five more players on the tour from South Korea. There are places which are called Talent hot beds and these are the places where specific talents are fertilized. Finally master coaching as it requires a coach to enable you to win.
Grit by Angela Duckworth: What is Grit? For most of us it means courage and resolve bundled with strength of character. The formula the author provides is talent x effort = skill and skill x effort = achievement. There are four psychological assets the author identifies with respect to grit namely interest, capacity to practice, purpose and hope. One other thing to note is since our willpower supply is limited we shouldn’t be wasting it on activities that won’t move us forward. While you may want to learn the piano but if it gives no joy then I wouldn’t want to persist on that and instead I would focus on getting better on something that will give me a greater return on investment. So you have to choose the activities that you want to be gritty in. Check out my review here. Grit book review
Peak by Anders Ericsson: Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool is an absolute gem on how we can all become exceptional performers. If you have read Outliers or Talent is Overrated you know the 10000 hour rule. Well this is based on the research Anders Ericsson did in 1993. His basic argument is 10000 hours was only an average and it was based on his study of great violinists. Another myth the book debunks is that we all have to start at an early age to become exceptional. He says however that if you adopt deliberate practice you can do it at a later age as well. Check out my review here. Peak by Anders Ericsson
Mastery by Robert Greene: Biographies can really inspire us. Imagine reading around 15 mini biographies at the same time. This is what Robert Greene has done with Mastery. This is one of the best books I have ever read and goes deep into what it takes to reach mastery in your field. Don’t separate your work from your personal life it is a sad separation since most of our time is spent at work so we can’t be miserable there. He also says masters felt a sense of destiny. For example Albert Einstein was immediately moved when his father gave him a compass when he was just 5 years old. Check out my review here. Mastery Review
Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness: We all want to be peak performers. A worthy addition to the literature in this genre is Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. It is a concise practical take on peak performance which all of us can benefit from. The book is broken into 3 sections based on their key principles of:
The Growth Equation (stress + rest = growth)
Priming – It consists of developing optimal routines and designing your day
Purpose – This ensures you are focused and motivated
Check out my review here. Peak Performance
As you can see there will be some repetition across these books but each one stands on its own. They cover the whole concept of practice, talent and mastery. Thanks for reading this post.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.