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Best Quotes From Peak – Secrets From the New Science of Expertise:

Top 25 Quotes From Peak By Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

  1. This is a fundamental truth about any sort of practice: If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve. The ameteur pianist who took half a dozen years of lessons when he was a teenager but who for the past thirty years has been playing the same set of songs in exactly the same way over and over again may have accumulated ten thousand hours of ‘practice’ during that time, but he is no better at playing the piano than he was thirty years ago. Indeed, he’s probably gotten worse.

  2. Whenever you’re trying to improve at something, you will run into such obstacles – points at which it seems impossible to progress, or at least where you have no idea what you should do in order to improve. This is natural. What is not natural is a true dead-stop obstacle, one that is impossible to get around, over, or through. In all of my years of research, I have found it is surprisingly rare to get clear evidence in any field that a person has reached some immutable limit on performance. Instead, I’ve found that people more often just give up and stop trying to improve.

  3. In the brain, the greater the challenge, the greater the changes – up to a point. Recent studies have shown that learning a new skill is much more effective at triggering structural changes in the brain than simply continuing to practice a skill that one has already learned. On the other hand, pushing too hard for too long can lead to burnout and ineffective learning. The brain, like the body, changes most quickly in that sweet spot where it is pushed outside – but not too far outside its comfort zone.

  4. Although the specific details vary from skill to skill, the overall pattern is consistent: Regular training leads to changes in the parts of the brain that are challenged by the training. The brain adapts to these challenges by rewiring itself in ways that increase its ability to carry out the functions required by the challenges.

  5. Consider this: Most people live lives that are not particularly physically challenging. They sit at a desk, or if they move around, it’s not a lot. They aren’t running and jumping, they aren’t lifting heavy objects or throwing things long distances, and they aren’t performing maneuvers that require tremendous balance and coordination. Thus they settle into a low level of physical capabilities – enough for day-to-day activities and maybe even hiking or biking or playing golf or tennis on the weekends, but far from the level of physical capabilities that a highly trained athlete possesses. These ‘normal’ people cannot run a mile in under five minutes or ten miles in under an hour; they cannot throw a baseball three hundred feet or hit a golf ball three hundred yards; they cannot do triple gainers off the high board or triple axels on ice skates or triple backflips in a gymnastics floor routine. These are the sorts of things that require far more practice than most people are willing to devote, but – and this is important – they are also the sorts of abilities that can be developed because the human body is so adaptable and responsive to training. The reason that most people don’t possess these extraordinary physical capabilities isn’t because they don’t have the capacity for them, but rather because they’re satisfied to live in the comfortable rut of homeostasis and never do the work that is required to get out of it. They live in the world of ‘good enough’.

  6. There is no such thing as developing a general skill. You don’t train your memory; you train your memory for strings of digits or for collection of words or for people’s faces. You don’t train to become an athlete; you train to become a gymnast or a sprinter or a marathoner or a swimmer or a basketball player. You don’t train to become a doctor; you train to become a diagnostician or a pathologist or a neurosurgeon. Of course, some people do become overall memory experts or athletes in a number of sports or doctors with a general set of skills, but they do so by training in a number of different areas.

  7. What sets expert performers apart from everyone else is the quality and quantity of their mental representations. Through years of practice, they develop highly complex and sophisticated representations of the various situations they are likely to encounter in their fields – such as the vast number of arrangements of chess pieces that can appear during games. These representations will allow them to make faster, more accurate decisions and respond more quickly and effectively in a given situation. This, more than anything else, explains the difference in performance between novices and experts.

  8. The main thing that sets experts apart from the rest of us is that their years of practice have changed the neural circuitry in their brains to produce highly specialized mental representations, which in turn make possible the incredible memory, pattern recognition, problem solving, and other sorts of advanced abilities needed to excel in their particular specialties.

  9. The more you study a subject, the more detailed your mental representations of it become, and the better you get at assimilating new information. Thus a chess expert can look at a series of moves in chess notation that are gibberish to most people – 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6… – and follow and understand an entire game. Similarly, an expert musician can look at a musical score for a new composition and know what it will sound like before ever playing it. And if you are a reader who is already familiar with the concept of deliberate practice or with the broader area of the psychology of learning, you will likely find it easier than other readers to assimilate the information in this book.

  10. It’s like a staircase that you climb as you build it. Each step of your own ascent puts you in a position to build the next step. Then you build that step, and you’re in a position to build the next one. And so on. Your existing mental representations guide your performance and allow you to both monitor and judge that performance. As you push yourself to do something new – to develop a new skill or sharpen an old one – you are also expanding and sharpening your mental representations, which will in turn make it possible for you to do more than you could before.

  11. By now it is safe to conclude from many studies on a wide variety of disciplines that nobody develops extraordinary abilities without putting in tremendous amounts of practice. I do not know of any serious scientist who doubts that conclusion. No matter which area you study – music, dance, sports, competitive games, or anything else with objective measures of performance you find that the top performers have devoted a tremendous amount of time to developing their abilities.

  12. Deliberate practice is deliberate, that is, it requires a person’s full attention and conscious actions. It isn’t enough to simply follow a teacher’s or coach’s directions. The student must concentrate on his or her practice activity so that adjustments can be made to control practice. Deliberate practice involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback. Early in the training process much of the feedback will come from the teacher or coach, who will monitor progress, point out problems, and offer ways to address these problems. With time and experience, students must learn to monitor themselves, spot mistakes, and adjust accordingly. Such self-monitoring requires effective mental representations.

  13. This distinction between knowledge and skills lies at the heart of the difference between traditional paths toward expertise and the deliberate-practice approach. Traditionally, the focus is nearly always on knowledge. Even when the ultimate outcome is being able to do something – solve a particular type of math problem, say, or write a good essay – the traditional approach has been to provide information about the right way to proceed and then mostly rely on the student to apply that knowledge. Deliberate practice, by contrast, focuses solely on performance and how to improve it.

  14. When you look at how people are trained in the professional and business worlds, you find a tendency to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills. The main reasons are tradition and convenience: it is much easier to present knowledge to a large group of people than it is to set up the conditions under which individuals can develop skills through practice.

  15. Given the expense of private instruction, people will often try to make do with group lessons or even YouTube videos or books, and those approaches will generally work to some degree. But no matter how many times you watch a demonstration in class or on YouTube, you are still going to miss or misunderstand some subtleties – and sometimes some things that are not so subtle – and you are not going to be able to figure out the best ways to fix all of your weaknesses, even if you do spot them.

  16. Even the most motivated and intelligent student will develop more quickly under the tutelage of someone who knows the best order in which to learn things, who understands and can demonstrate the proper way to perform various skills, who can provide useful feedback, and who can devise practice activities designed to overcome particular weaknesses. Thus, one of the most important things you can do for your own success is to find a good teacher and work with him or her.

  17. It is better to train at 100 percent effort for less time than 70 percent effort for a longer period. Once you find you can no longer focus effectively, end the session. And make sure you get enough sleep so that you can train with maximum concentration.

  18. The hallmark of purposeful or deliberate practice is that you try to do something you cannot do – that takes you out of your comfort zone – and that you practice it over and over again, focusing on exactly how you are doing it, where you are falling short, and how you can get better. Real life – our jobs, our schooling, our hobbies – seldom gives us the opportunity for this sort of focused repetition, so in order to improve, we must manufacture our own opportunities.

  19. To effectively practice a skill without a teacher, it helps to keep in mind three Fs: Focus. Feedback. Fix it. Break the skill down into components that you can do repeatedly and analyze effectively, determine your weaknesses, and figure out ways to address them.

  20. Deliberate practice can be a lonely pursuit, but if you have a group of friends who are in the same positions – the other members of your orchestra or your baseball team or your chess club – you have a built-in support system. These people understand the effort you’re putting into your practice, they can share training tips with you, and they can appreciate your victories and commiserate with you over your difficulties. They count on you, and you can count on them.

  21. There is no reason not to follow your dream. Deliberate practice can open the door to a world of possibilities that you may have been convinced were out of reach. Open that door.

  22. Expert performers develop their extraordinary abilities through years and years of dedicated practice, improving step by step in a long, laborious process. There are no shortcuts. Various sorts of practice can be effective, but the most effective of all is deliberate practice. Deliberate practice takes advantage of the natural adaptability of the human brain and body to create new abilities. Most of these new abilities are created with the help of detailed mental representations, which allow us to analyze and respond to situations much more effectively than we could otherwise.

  23. The bottom line is that no one has ever managed to figure out how to identify people with ‘innate talent’. No one has ever found a gene variant that predicts superior performance in one area or another, and no one has ever come up with a way to, say, test young children and identify which among them will become the best athletes or the best mathematicians or the best doctors or the best musicians.

  24. If you teach a student facts, concepts, and rules, those things go into long-term memory as individual pieces, and if a student then wishes to do something with them – use them to solve a problem, reason with them to answer a question, or organize and analyze them to come up with a theme or a hypothesis – the limitations of attention and short-term memory kick in. The student must keep all of these different, unconnected pieces in mind while working with them toward a solution. However, if this information is assimilated as part of building mental representations aimed at doing something, the individual pieces become part of an interconnected pattern that provides context and meaning to the information, making it easier to work with.

  25. Having students create mental representations in one area helps them understand exactly what it takes to be successful not only in that area but in others as well. Most people, even adults, have never attained a level of performance in any field that is sufficient to show them the true power of mental representations to plan, execute, and evaluate their performance in the way that expert performers do. And thus they never really understand what it takes to reach this level – not just the time it takes, but the high-quality practice. Once they do understand what is necessary to get there in one area, they understand, at least in principle, what it takes in other areas. That is why experts in one field can often appreciate those in other fields.

Durable Trading Success is Not Luck-Based – It’s Skilled-Based:

For new traders it’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of thinking that success is luck-dependent. Sure, on a trade-by-trade basis anything can happen, which seems to point in the direction of luck. But over the course of hundreds or thousands of trades, it’s the traders with the proper habits, legitimate skills, statistical edges, and overall better processes who ultimately win out.

What is Training For Trading - Best Day Trader Training

The thing about effectively interacting within the market environment is that it requires a lot of self-awareness and control. It can be used as a platform for thrills and gambling – trading randomly and impulsively, without a clue how anything really works. Or it can be used as a platform for developing patience, balance, structure, consistency, objectivity, and a probabilistic mindset.

Undoubtedly, the market is an attractive environment for the potential monetary benefit. But you can’t let yourself be blinded by the potential rewards. Because without following the proper process of training and building skills – those rewards will never come. The bottom line is that the best traders work extremely hard at their craft by putting in hundreds of hours of deliberate practice.

Treat Day Trading Like the Skill-Based, Peak-Performance Endeavor That it is:

The sad reality is that over 90% of traders fail. But looking at it from the perspective of how the average person approaches the markets, this failure rate isn’t very hard to believe. Almost nobody who wants to become a day trader seeks out proper training.

Instead, what most prospective day traders do is search for shortcuts – newsletters, alert and signal services, chat rooms, and all kinds of other nonsense that they think will deliver automatic success. Trust me, I did the same thing in the beginning. But this approach is 100% ineffective. What’s most important to understand is that trading success requires far more than information and knowledge.

Trading is a Skill - Knowledge Will Only Get You So Far

To give a real life example, I started my own trading journey by subscribing to a guru alert service – thinking I could copy the guru’s trades exactly. If he had a solid track record of profits and was sending me trade alerts – how could it not work? But this thought process was completely wrong. Almost every trade that I tried to blindly copy was a loser for me – but a winner for the guru.

When you understand that trading is a skill-based endeavor, you realize exactly how unhelpful and dangerous things like alert services are. It would be like having absolutely no baseball experience, but going up to bat against a major league pitcher throwing 100 miles per hour. If some guru alerted you by yelling “curveball, swing!” as soon as a pitch was released – do you really think it would help you?

Of course it wouldn’t. The pitch would be in the catcher’s mitt before you even processed it. And since you lack both the knowledge and skills to function effectively in this situation, you’d be in danger of getting hurt. Yet this is exactly how most traders operate.

Learn More in the Trading Success Framework Course

Written by Matt Thomas (@MattThomasTP)

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Matt Thomas

Founder of, Creator of the Trading Success Framework Course & Trading Paradigm Skool Community, and Intraday Futures Trader Using Auction Market Theory & Profiling (Volume & Market Profile).


  • Steve says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive advice about trading at the end. I always wanted to get into trading and dabbled a few times and lost money. I took the advice of so called experts and every trade I made, I lost money. As someone who knows little about making money by trading, what would you advise first? Would you do a course, read a book or find a mentor? 


    • Matt Thomas says:

      Hi Steve – great question.

      You’re absolutely not alone when it comes to losing money in the markets. Anyone who chooses to dabble and take advice from so-called experts (through chat rooms, alert services, etc.) will always be at a disadvantage. In my experience, the only individuals who achieve any consistent and substantial trading success are those who take it seriously and build legitimate skills in order to become self-sufficient. Successful traders don’t take advice from anybody regarding specific trades. Instead, they have the technical and mental skills to think through and execute trades for themselves – based on their own cognitive strengths, risk tolerances, personality types, etc.

      The problem is that most people want a quick and easy path to riches (which trading is not – it requires quite a bit of hard work and persistence). But of course, there are individuals out there trying to take advantage of your human nature. Marketers of lousy trading courses and services know the average person wants to get rich quick, so they’re more than willing to offer you that (even though it doesn’t exist). This is why so many fake gurus flaunting Lamborginis and other ridiculous things exist on social media. The training and actual process of trading for a living (all the work that goes into it) isn’t as “sexy” as the potential lifestyle it can provide. It’s mostly a ploy to sell you something – not necessarily make you a great trader.

      So for beginners, the first thing I would recommend is not falling for any sort of get-rich-quick program offering foolproof indicators/systems or explosive alerts – and instead, focus on legitimate training. But before you even consider training, do some research on some basic terminology and concepts first. See if trading is something you legitimately want to pursue – and if you do, then focus on training. The reason so many traders fail is because most are just winging it. They’re not willing to put in the time to build actual skills. It’s the same thing with any other skill-based, peak-performance endeavor. Would you expect to become a professional athlete without training? Some advice can certainly help for initial direction, but no skills can ever be acquired without putting in the work. This requires months and years of repetition in order to build skills and intuition.

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