I was watching my almost three year old son playing with his wooden toy car carrier. Again and again he loaded the little cars on, adjusted the different levers and slowly pulled the car carrier along making appropriate sounds and taking care that the cars on the carrier wouldn’t slide or fall off. Sometimes he succeeded and sometimes not. So he would rearrange and readjust things and try again. He was deeply focused on what he was doing and definitely enjoying himself. He spend a very long time happily occupied with this game. Watching him doing his thing reminded me of the one of the best books I read recently called the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. My son was naturally applying the principles discussed by the author.
In the book, the author shares his experience studying talented people across different disciplines and in different parts of the world to try and uncover what they did that accounted for their impressive performance and outstanding skills. He found three elements that they all had in common, namely, deep practice, strong motivation and excellent coaching.
Deep practice involved breaking down a particular skill being practiced into smaller components, called chunking, and then practicing the chunks over and over until sufficient mastery was achieved and then putting the chunks back together resulting in perfected skill and out of the ball park results.
Motivation often meant inspiration and passion for whatever the person was trying to achieve. Usually it meant heaving a picture in their mind of a role model, who has already achieved what the person was aiming for.
Finally, all the subjects of this study had a mentor or a coach who knew how to ask for and bring out the best in their students.
The author suggests that these elements work in tandem to form a substance called myelin that insulates the neural cells and thus increases the accuracy of transmission of electric impulses to the brain, that we see as increase in skill, speed or accuracy. Therefore it stands to reason, that any person can develop and improve and grow using the above three principles and apply them in any area of interest.
This is an unbelievably exciting idea, with many practical ramifications. Most significantly, it challenges the often wrongly held belief that talent is something that you either have or don’t have, not that it’s something that could be nurtured and developed.
This book is an easy and very engaging read with lots of great examples from the author’s research. But most importantly it emphasizes again that human beings are born designed for greatness, you just have to know how to tap this amazing potential.