iSing recommended read: Peak, the book that will help you reach the top

If you’re back from a summer break bursting with ambition and a desire to take your singing career to the next level, then grab a copy of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

This book’s not new – it was published in 2016, generating much discussion and interest – but it’s a must read for anyone determined to reach their full potential.

In Peak Swedish psychologist K Anders Ericsson and science writer Robert Pool explain that we place too much emphasis on the notion of “natural talent” when the real driver of success is deliberate practice. In other words, genetics influence performance but they don’t determine it.

As a society we’re obsessed with the idea that our sporting and musical heroes are “naturals”; we cling, despite all evidence to the contrary, to the belief that human beings can soar in their chosen field without putting in countless hours of hard graft. Sorry but it’s just not true.

A prime example of our obsession with the natural talent fairytale is Michael Jackson. It’s well known that he spent his entire childhood (if you can call it that) singing and dancing under the watchful and menacing eye of his father, but when people talk about MJ they always refer to him as a child prodigy rather than someone who shed sweat, blood and tears to learn their craft.

Now the authors of Peak aren’t advocating the miserly training methods of Joe Jackson, merely suggesting you pause for thought before referring to any expert in their field as a natural talent. The reality is that while they may have inherent genetic gifts, without practice they would never have reached the top. And not just any kind of practice but the right kind of practice or what the authors refer to as “deliberate practice”. Junk hours wasted on mindless repetitions won’t cut it. To truly develop, your practice needs to be purposeful, systematic, focused, mindful and supported by expert guidance and feedback. For more specifics about what constitutes deliberate practice you’ll have to read the book.

One final note: while deliberate practice is most successful when started at a young age, anyone can make use of the principles. CLICK HERE to read how Swedish singer Susanne Bargmann reaped the rewards of deliberate practice in her 40s.