How many pushups can you do in a row?
10, 20? Could you do 100?
And you’d have to be a freak if you could do 500 in a row, right?
You’d just be human.
In 1980 Minoru Yoshida of Japan did 10,057 pushups nonstop.
In 1993 Charles Servizio of the good old USA did 46,001 pushups in 21 hours and 21 minutes.
In 2016 David Escojido of the USA did 2,298 pushup in 1 hour.
You might think that these folks must be oddities. They must be gifted. They must have some weird thing in their DNA allowing them to do these things.
But you’d be wrong.
None of these people were born that way. In fact, what researchers are finding is that most of the folks that we think are prodigies—folks like Mozart, Tiger Woods, chess masters who can play 20 games at once without even looking at a board—the biggest thing that separates them from the rest of us isn’t DNA.
Anders Ericsson, a researcher at Florida State University, has spent the last 30 years studying what gives experts their edge. And he reveals in Peak: The New Science of Expertise that he and other researchers have found that while there are some physical traits like height and size that definitely make a difference in some physical activities (notice how all the top gymnasts are short), what really sets people apart is how much of a certain type of practice they’ve done.
Not just practice, but a certain type of practice.
Practicing “hard” doesn’t do much for you. Putting in a lot of hours doesn’t do much either. Instead, you need to practice in a way that has been shown to lead people to actually improve their performance. You still have to put in a lot of time practicing—there is no shortcut—but only the type of practice he explains in the book seems to lead to the increase of performance.
Is he saying that anyone can do anything?
No. When I first looked into his research, one of my big issues was that it seemed he was claiming anyone could do anything with 10,000 hours of practice.
But he’s not saying that.
Is he saying genetics has no influence?
It can, but what he’s found is that it doesn’t have the role we normally think of when we think of top performance. And, most importantly, we place artificial limits on ourselves by thinking people are born to this or that activity.
There is far too much to post here. What you need to know is that what he shares in this book is fascinating, compelling, and surprising. I’ve been training people for over thirty years. And I found myself enlightened. If you’re at all interested in education, or getting better at some activity (from parenting to golf), or helping your kids get better, you’ll want to read this book. Highly recommended.