Daniel Coyle’s new book, The Talent Code, is another in the recent spate of books that offers compelling and exciting evidence that genius is not born, it is grown. And that YOU can grow it! Here’s how:
1. Deep Practice: it’s not who you are; it’s what you DO
“If you don’t practice, you’ll never play the tune.”
a) What’s your tune? The Bronte sisters were not born great writers. They produced volumes of “slap dash” content as youngsters full of “appalling” spelling and punctuation. Brazilian boys are not born World Cupwinning soccer players. Amongst other factors, their academy players practice twenty hours/week compared to five in the UK. Tiger Woods put in more hours of golf by the time he was five than most people play in a lifetime. Jessica Simpson worked tirelessly in Dallas from the age of 11 with one of the USA’s best voice and performance coaches.
Also, practice on the edge of your abilities. It’s not just about hard work. It’s the right kind of practice. It doesn’t have to be endless hours. Part of this is: b) Make lots of small mistakes and learn from them.
Here’s the problem we have as adults: we try to avoid mistakes. But without them, there is no skill development.
c) Scientific evidence is growing fast: Deep Practice develops more and more MYELIN which is the
insulation that wraps nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed and accuracy. Why does this matter? “Every human movement, thought, or feeling is a precisely timed electric signal traveling through a chain of neurons – a circuit of nerve fibers.”
Coyle calls this ‘ignition’. “Deep practice isn’t a piece of cake: it requires energy, passion and commitment.” Got passion?
a) Future belonging motivates.
Why did the number of South Korean golfers on the LPGA Tour go from 1-35 between 1998-2007? How did a country with no history of producing talented female tennis players have five of the ten world’s best players in 2007 trained in the same ramshackle club near Moscow? Because these forty women saw someone from their country and with their background have success. Motivation!
Tell yourself this: “If she can do it, I can do it” Motivated people see what they want and say to themselves: “Better get busy!” b) Got long-term commitment?
How long do you think you’ll stay in your vocation? Studies are finding that those who say that they truly intend to stick at something will practice deeply and longer and – guess what – develop much more talent and skill! Those who start out with just a small commitment do not put in the hours to get good.
c) The Sistine Chapel Effect
What’s your office culture like? To sustain motivation it helps to be surrounded by others on a similar path. In Renaissance Italy, Michelangelo had many talented peers in Florence. In Shakespearean England, several writers would meet at the Mermaid Tavern in London. In Curacao, the Frank Curiel Field is a hotbed of developing baseball talent. The streets of Sao Paulo are alive with activity and evidence to reinforce the football obsession of Brazilian culture.
3. Master Coaching
There’s a very good reason coaching is being used by an increasing number of “the rest of us” who are not world superstars. It’s a best practice!
a) Praise hard work, ACTION and small progress NOT talent and intelligence (because these are perceived as innate)
b) Praise must be earned. John Wooden, considered by ESPN to be the best coach of all time from any sport, was once studied. Of 2,326 discrete acts of coaching, 6.9% were compliments, 6.6% were expressions of displeasure and 75% were pure information: what to do and how to do it.
Modify this to who you are coaching as Wooden worked with hand-picked athletes. But too much coddling is a detriment to the struggle necessary to grow.
c) Master Coaches have deep knowledge, are perceptive (quick to figure others out); have a GPS Reflex (give out lots of information in short, clear bursts; for example: “Good. Okay, now do this.”); and a theatrical honesty – they use drama and their own moral character.
d) Help others to develop the right skill circuits as often as possible rather than tell them what to do Coyle concludes by saying that “the more an organization embraces the core principles of ignition, deep practice, and master coaching, the more myelin it will build, the more success it will have.”