Drew Johnson's Reviews > The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
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's review
Jan 03, 11

it was amazing
Read in December, 2010

This is a great book for anyone wanting to understand the basic science behind skill development in an easy to follow read. It describes the underlying mechanics of what we typically refer to as muscle memory or automaticity in some fun and interesting case studies of talent development. It covers everything from Russian tennis players, Brazilian soccer players, the Bronte Sisters, to violinists. It also looks at bursts of development in Athens, Florence and London. The basic premise is talent is not born, its grown.

Three simple facts: 1) Every human movement or feeling is an electric signal traveling through a chain of neurons—a circuit of fibers. 2) Myelin is the insulation that wraps the nerve fibers which increases signal strength, speed and accuracy 3) The more we fire a particular circuit the more myelin optimizes that circuit and the better our movements and thoughts become.

Skill is cellular insulation (myelin) that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals. Practicing at the edge of one’s ability—deep practice—is the most effective form of skill development. Making and correcting errors is where we develop most—mistake focused practice. That creates more myelin around the circuit making the response faster, more fluent and automatic.

This book debunks the “natural talent/genius” mindset and references some of the same science Gladwell describes in Outliers in discussing the 10,000 hour rule of expertise development. To become and expert requires lengthy practice at the edge of our ability which only occurs if we love what we are practicing.

There is some interesting discussion that I think relates to the “natural man” referred to by Mosiah and our ability to develop our spiritual reflexes and instincts—creating myelin around nerve fibers that lead to good behaviors instead of “natural man” behaviors. We don’t have to be animalistic or succumb to basic urges.
What triggers deep practice? Some basic Ignition which are typically primal ques. Talent requires deep practice, deep practice requires vast amounts of energy, primal cues (belonging, not being safe) can trigger vast amounts of energy.
To develop or coach we need to affirm struggle and work, not affirm intellect or natural talent
Self discipline measures are twice as likely predictors of academic success than IQ
As a coach, love is more important than technical skill. Coaches effectiveness is finding the edge of an individual’s capability.
Same concept applied to neurosis and other forms of psychological issues.
Pay attention to what your children are fascinated by and praise them for their effort.
Nerve fibers/circuits=wires connected to synapses

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