In The Talent Code, David Coyle explores how talents are created and nurtured throughout life. He first demonstrates that talent is a consequence of deep practice, is ignited and occurs in mysterious places and at different moment.
The Deep Practice Process
People with talent take time to practice, have a great deal of concentration and focus. They counterintuitively practice failure to make themselves successful later on. This is what David Coyle calls deep practice.
Deep practice is to talent what a whetstone is to a knife. It sharpens a natural ability and converts failed situations into learning experiences. That is why, gifted people are found in hot beds where events seem accelerated and fluid. On the outside looking in, gifted people look strange.
To go further into the deep practice process, break a skill into small components, learn them, learn their variants, search for their potential errors, gradually correct these components.
In addition, studies have shown that making mistakes, correcting them, deep practicing and working through failure force us to function at the edge of our abilities and talents, allow us to improve our resilience and our ability to learn.
Talents develop a strategy to building up a skill so that they can accurately measure their progress, sense mistakes before they occur, adapt their strategy in case of failure, customize it to different situations, avoid blaming their success on luck.
Afterwards, in a unchallenging situation, a small effort will produce big results and will guide you towards your talent sweet spot.
The Importance Of Myelin
According to Daniel Coyle and to early reasearch, the learning process in talented people starts in our brain with myelin. Myelin is a microscopic substance in the brain, insulating neural circuits, strengthening and regulating neurological signals, that decreases with age, that drives our perception of the world, that increases our ability to learn, to talk to read and to communicate.
Furthermore, myelin creates habits that they can only be removed by creating another one. It follows the same rules universally and doesn’t grow without a conscience action on our behalf.
Needless to say, by deep practicing, we build higher and automatic skills, we train our neurological signals to borrow a specific path and to increase the quantity of myelin in our brain.
How to rewire our brain while being cognizant of myelin
Theses studies are still in the early ages. However, deep practicing, repeating an action, watching talented, skilled people allows us to imitate them, to rewire our brain.
According to Ericsson’s research, to optimize the level of myelin in your brain, it is detrimental to practise daily between 3 to 5 hours.
The Ignition Process
According to Daniel Coyle, talents come from more than genes and environment. Deep practice, not enjoyable at first, is the first step to developing talent and requires time, commitment, energy and passion.
The second step is understanding and implementing the ignition process which allows us to create and sustain motivation. Ignition operates through emotion and visualization of the future, sparks intense unconscious response and accelerates progress.
Moreover, this process does not follow basic and regular rules. The ignition process is triggered by certain signals or primal cues, by a lack of safety, by education, by exposure to a different environment and to aspirational figures. It is also triggered by words, motivational and inspirational language, by high value messages, by praises and affirmations.
To get people motivated, it is important to “speak to the ground-level effort, affirming the struggle”, to congratulate them on their hard work. To sustain the ignition process, one must have self-discipline, understand their priorities and be accountable for their errors.
Identifying and Igniting talent in others
Talent coaches are viewed as great leaders and teachers because ignite our talent and using our talents can change our lives and those of others around us. Talent coaches:
- Are people who were talented but unsuccessful but who have taken the time out to identify the reasons why.
- Are generally quite and reserved.
- Are warm and empathetic.
- Listen more than they speak.
- Offer short targeted advice instead of motivational and inspirational speeches.
- Are committed to and are sensitive to their students, to the people that they coach. For example, they customize their messages to their students.
- Are sharp and capture every information regarding their student.
- Pay attention to details, rehearse the words that they will potentially use.
- Measure their voice, control their body language.
- Live by their values and principles.
- Breaks down their message in “chunks” and understand the importance of deep practice.
- Have an ability to locate the strengths, the sweet spots of an individual and to pull them out their shell and out of their comfort zone.
It is clear to say that the spotlight is rarely shun upon the coach, that teaching and leading is a skill on its own and the best coaches spend decades nurturing their coaching skills.
To help young talented people to build their skills, it is important to seek out someone talented but who doesn’t seem like it, someone who is wise, who doesn’t engage in small talk, who doesn’t necessarily have diplomas or graduated from summa cum laude from a top-notch school.
In The Talent Code, David Coyle is an easy to read book that ambitiously identifies the origin of talent in individuals. He gives an interesting spin on how talent is created—not born— and nurtured. To prepare for his book, David Coyle had to travel for research, had to interview scientists, coaches and teachers and to visit talent hotbeds.
The Talent Code is extremely useful to people who are shy, introverted, who lack motivation and the fire necessary to pursue their gift, who seek to coach and lead and who seek a strategy to build strong skills.
It is also detrimental in the music industry, in business, in corporate , in the education and sport fields. Furthermore, after reading this book, I have a greater respect for people with talent but also for people who are able to nurture talent in others.
The conventional way to explain this kind of concentrated talent is to attribute it to a combination of genes and environment, a.k.a. nature and nurture.