New Scientific Discoveries About Talent
I have commented on the importance of “deliberate practice” in other posts, including on July 21, 2014. Many of us want to say, “Well, I could never do that because I’m not as talented as he or she is.” According to a number of authors and studies, however, that’s just not true. The fact is that with a reasonable amount of talent, you can become outstanding — but understand that it will take a lot of hard work and practice (unfortunately, there’s no supplement you can take).
On the front cover of The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle, there’s a quote from In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters: “I am willing to guarantee that you will not read a more important and useful book in this or any other year.” Wow, what an endorsement!
In his book, Coyle focuses on what are termed “talent hotbeds.” Talent hotbeds are tiny places that produce disproportionate, “Everest-size amounts” of talent — examples include Brazilian footballers or Korean women golfers — and the book provides a wide variety of impressive examples. The key theme of the book is these talent hotbeds aren’t random occurrences, but are places that share the same skill acquisition and success. Each hotbed has certain characteristics and patterns of targeted, deep practice that builds skill, and the result is accelerated learning.
What was fascinating to me were recent studies of the brain that support the premise that practice — as Coyle calls it, “deep practice”— makes Tom a better (insert whatever you want to be better at). Coyle uses a lot of medical terms, including “myelin,” to make his case, and his conclusions are supported by the work of other scientists.
I believe the most important takeaway is this: If you want to get better at something, find others who are perceived as the best, learn from them, and then practice, practice, practice.