Dr Anders Ericsson

I came across a tweet about Dr Anders Ericsson’s passing last night and felt a deep sense of sadness. Prof Ericsson coined the term “deliberate practice” and his research was built around a simple thesis – expertise, particularly in fields like sports and music, requires a lot of high quality practice vs. solely because of some ambiguous notion of talent. His work was popularized (to his annoyance) by Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule.

I got interested in Prof Ericsson’s work as I went down the path of understanding expertise myself. And, in graduate school, a close Professor friend and I found an excuse to have him join us for a talk (he had just published his book – “Peak“).

As is the case with these things, I don’t remember much from the talk. But, I remember his warmth, grace, and thoughtfulness.

His work helped significantly advance the conversation on expertise by moving us away from a blind focus on raw talent to one that weighted effortful practice. He sought to have us appreciate the importance of getting out of our comfort zone in our quest to get better at what we do.

For personal growth geeks like me, he was a hero… and he will be missed.