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Never Too Late: Learning New Skills in Adulthood

We know that one of the best ways to get children interested in something is by letting them discover it on their own. And we know that when kids participate in healthy activities with peers and family it makes it easy for them to stay fit as they get older. But what about adults?

What if you just discovered Capoeira, or violin, or a love of mathematics, and you want to develop new skills in adulthood?

Despite popular belief, a growing field of research in psychology shows that it’s never too late. In their recent book PEAK: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (2016), Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool review decades’ worth of case studies and experimental research that point to a single conclusion:

Just about anyone can become an expert in any area through focused, sustained, and well-directed practice.

 

The big takeaway from this book is both intimidating and empowering.

Intimidating because there are no shortcuts—Debunking every myth of easy success, Ericsson and Pool make a convincing case that no one has ever become a great musician, elite athlete, or highly skilled expert in any area through natural talent.

But the flip-side of this discovery is equally empowering—that just about anyone is capable of excelling in any field:

The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else. –PEAK, p. xxi

If you’re getting started in a new field late in life, whether you want to compete with the experts or simply want to challenge yourself, the most important keys to improvement are patience and practice. But not just any practice–the most effective practice is guided by expert instruction and feedback. Practicing bad habits, developed without expert guidance, can actually make you worse at something rather than better.

Ready to get started? Find an expert Capoeira teacher

who provides feedback in class, gives exercises to practice on your own, and guides you in developing skills for constructive self-critique. Share your experiences in our blog comments!

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