The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? This groundbreaking work provides listeners with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others.
Whether you’re coaching soccer or teaching a child to play the piano, writing a novel or trying to improve your golf swing, this revolutionary book shows you how to grow talent by tapping into a newly discovered brain mechanism.
Drawing on cutting-edge neurology and firsthand research gathered on journeys to nine of the world’s talent hotbeds - from the baseball fields of the Caribbean to a classical-music academy in upstate New York - Coyle identifies the three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts and optimize your performance in sports, art, music, math, or just about anything.
- Deep Practice. Everyone knows that practice is a key to success. What everyone doesn’t know is that specific kinds of practice can increase skill up to ten times faster than conventional practice.
- Ignition. We all need a little motivation to get started. But what separates truly high achievers from the rest of the pack? A higher level of commitment - call it passion - born out of our deepest unconscious desires and triggered by certain primal cues. Understanding how these signals work can help you ignite passion and catalyze skill development.
- Master Coaching. What are the secrets of the world’s most effective teachers, trainers, and coaches? Discover the four virtues that enable these “talent whisperers” to fuel passion, inspire deep practice, and bring out the best in their students.
These three elements work together within your brain to form myelin, a microscopic neural substance that adds vast amounts of speed and accuracy to your movements and thoughts. Scientists have discovered that myelin might just be the holy grail: the foundation of all forms of greatness, from Michelangelo’s to Michael Jordan’s. The good news about myelin is that it isn’t fixed at birth; to the contrary, it grows, and like anything that grows, it can be cultivated and nourished.
Combining revelatory analysis with illuminating examples of regular people who have achieved greatness, this book will not only change the way you think about talent, but equip you to reach your own highest potential.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 12 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 13, 2019|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #3,579 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#7 in Creativity & Genius
#19 in Popular Neuropsychology
#342 in Success Self-Help
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2016
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"The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle is a book on how to grow talent. The author is against the wisdom that talent is natural. The book is around the belief that talent come from Myelin. Myelin is the "insulation that wrap these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy." When the certain signal is sent down the nerve system, myelin wraps around the nerve fibre. The thicker the myelin, the better the signal. Thus, "skill is myelin insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows according to certain signals."
The book is divided into three parts of talent growing; 1. Deep Practice 2. Ignition 3. Master Coaching
Part 1: Deep Practice
Chapter 1: The Sweet Spot
This is the first chapter to familiarise us with the deep practice. Coyle wrote about Brazilian football (soccer) and why it is the world's talent hotbed. He had an amazing story of Edwin Link and how his unusual device transformed the training of the Air Force.
Chapter 2: The Deep Practice Cell
This chapter surrounds the idea of myelin and how it might be the holy grail to talent. It is very scientific. To sum it up, "deep practice x 10,000 hours = world-class skill."
Chapter 3: The Brontës, the Z-Boys, and the Renaissance
The author started with the Brontë sisters from England in the 1850s who wrote fantastic children books. He also wrote about the group of skaters by the name of Z-Boys and the guilds during the renaissance and how they produced highly talented people.
Chapter 4: The Three Rules of Deep Practice
This chapter, Coyle gives us three rules of Deep Practicing. 1. Chunk It Up 2. Repeat It 3. Learn to Feel It
Part 2: Ignition
Chapter 5: Prima Cues
It is merely things that get you interested, that excite you and bring you passion. Coyle wrote on how the success of Se Ri Pak, a Korean golfer, had an impact on the next generation of female Korean golfers and how young Russian tennis players wanted to be the new Anna. "If she can do it, why can't I?"
Chapter 6: The Curaçao Experiment
The remote Caribbean island, Curaçao, did a miraculous work at producing lots of talented baseball players because the ignition sparked when an island hero, Andruw Jones, hit a home run. However, the real success of Curaçao is that it keeps motivational fire lit, Doyle tells you how they did it.
Chapter 7: How to Ignite a Hotbed
This chapter is about KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. The story of success of KIPP is like a miracle but the core of it is to constantly ignite the students with just a word, college. No,... "COLLEGE!!"
Part 3: Master Coaching
Chapter 8: The Talent Whisperers
Talent does not come alone, the talented people in their fields need a coach, a mentor, or a master. Coyle wrote about Herman Lamm, the originator and teacher of modern bank-robbing skill! He wrote about Hans Jansen, a cello teacher at Meadowmount Music School in Chicago and how he personalised his teaching method. There is also a wonderful story of John Wooden, a great basketball coach and his amazing coaching techniques.
Chapter 9: The Teaching Blueprint
The author elaborated the four virtues of teaching 1. The Matrix or a task-specific knowledge of the teacher (He wrote a nice story of Linda Septein who taught Jessica Simpson and Beyonce Knowles) 2. Perceptiveness - how to perceive students individually 3. The GPS Reflex - the just-in-time informative directives 4. Theatrical Honesty which is the ability to connect with students.
Chapter 10: Tom Martinez and the $60 Million Bet
This is a chapter about Tom Martinez, a retired junior college American football coach, and his teaching method on a promising young quarterback, JaMarcus Russell.
I would like to compare this book to an ideal book: a book that is easy to understand, distinct, practical, credible, insightful, and provides great reading experience.
Ease of Understanding: 8/10: The book is written in simple language albeit some scientific information. The structure is very simple with the three parts, Deep Practice, Ignition, and Master Coaching. Minor drawbacks are some uses of unnecessary ambiguous words such as Matrix, Threatrical Honesty, etc. but they are minor, though.
Distinction: 7/10: There are many books on this subject already and it reminds me of a recent book, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell and the two have some similarities and some differences. However, The Talent Code is excellent at instilling the knowledge of Myelin making us view talent from a different perspective.
Practicality: 8/10: This book is practical especially in the field on Deep Practice. Daniel Coyle explained nicely on this issue and it is not difficult to implement it to our daily life. Chunk It Up, Repeat, and Learn to Feel It are pretty much straightforward and Deep Practice is the best part of the book because the other two, Ignition and Master Coaching are more difficult to implement.
Credibility: 3/10: Although this is a very good book, it has a major flaw. This book is like a qualitative research. It is deep in the subject and in the examples and stories in the book. However, it lacks generalisation. You might say "That's the way it is" to a story but that might not be the way the rest are. There are some contradictions in the book as well.
For example, in the Chapter 9, the author stated that teaching soccer is different from teaching violin. Teaching soccer must be free flowing because the soccer circuitry is "varied and fast, changing fluidly in response to each obstacle." So, the coach rather lets the players perform. On the other hand, the violinist has to be accurate, precise, and stable. The coach, thus, has to stop and make sure that the circuitry is correct.
The argument is convincing and sensible until we noticed the way the legendary John Wooden, a basketball coach, coached. It's undisputed that basketball is more similar to soccer than violin that it requires fluidity in the game but Coyle wrote that John Wooden constantly issuing informative corrections of movements to players. He might not stop the game but he surely keeps correcting players, not letting them flow. Coyle wrote "[The soccer coach] occasionally smiles ot laughs or says oooooooo for a close play as a fan would. But he doesn't coach in the regular sense of the term, which is to say he doesn't stop the game, teach, praise, critique, or otherwise exert any control whatsoever."
There are some other contradictions or, at least, an overlap. In the chapter 8, Coyle wrote that some coaches coach love or make the children love what they are doing. The quote from the research of Dr. Benjamin Bloom in the chapter is "Perhaps the major quality of these teachers was that they made the initial learning very pleasant and rewarding. Much of the introduction to the field was a playful activity, and the learning at the beginning of the stage was much like a game."
However, in chapter 7, regarding KIPP, the process is not really similar, if not opposite. The new students will be introduced to "discipline" from the first day on everything; how to walk, how to talk, how to sit at a desk, how to look at a teacher or classmate who's speaking, and so on. Students, on the first day, sat on the floor without a desk because "...everything here at KIPP is earned. EVERYTHING is earned. Everything is EARNED." This is a much tougher game than the piano class in Dr. Bloom's research. Likewise, at Spartak, the tennis hotbed in Russia, they did not "play" tennis - they preferred the verb borot'sya - "fight" or "struggle."
There are many minor contradictions and overlaps in this book and make it much less convincing and credible and much of them are in the parts of "Ignition" and "Master Coaching."
Insightful: 7/10: Daniel Coyle had done a very good work with his interviews in the so-called talent hotbeds around the world. Those examples are backed with stories from those involved. However, more researches with less depth would be great to confirm the findings of the deep and insightful ones.
Reading Experience: 6/10: At first, this book is very promising with the first part, "Deep Practice." It gives you intriguing knowledge and very practical methods. However, the book fades out in the later parts I discussed above. While the "Deep Practice" part is very scientific, the other parts are not as solid. The general theme of the whole book is nice but the contradictions can frustrate you.
Overall: 6.5/10: This is a good book with a different perspective on how we look at talent. It will provide you with inspiration and sufficient guidelines to make you more talented in your fields. The Deep Practice part of the book is simply invaluable. The other two parts are not bad but some unclear messages might hold you back.
(I have done this kind of review for some months; if any of you have a comment or suggestion, please do tell)
Colvin's basic message from "Talent is Overrated" is as follows: Greatness comes from something called deep practice, which amounts to working your butt off and enduring insane doses of psychological pain (because deep practice is hard and taxing and it hurts).
Gladwell's message from "Outliers" was even more succinct (or clichéd, depending on one's point of view): All greatness pretty much boils down to the 10,000 hour rule. If you want to be world class at something, put 10,000 hours into it. Period. Child prodigies like Mozart, we are told, merely got a head start on this onerous requirement.
Daniel Coyle puts a uniquely scientific spin on the pursuit of excellence, focusing on the neuro-physical essence of skill formation and boiling it down to a strange waxy substance called myelin.
"We are myelin beings," Coyle intones with a sort of mystic reverence. Myelin is the speed-enhancing stuff that wraps the signal-generating nerve fibers in our brains, turning slow, sluggish 56K modem connections into the mental equivalent of fiber-optic cables.
"Skill is a cellular insulation [i.e. myelin] that wraps neural circuits," Coyle writes, "and that grows in response to certain signals."
With this wonky definition in tow, Coyle travels the world in search of "Chicken-wire Harvards" -- hotbeds of excellence where unlikely concentrations of talent spring up, usually in sparse surroundings. His examples range from Brazilian soccer players to Curacao baseball kids to cello players in upstate New York.
At a fairly compact 220 pages (give or take), the book is organized into three main sections: Deep Practice, Ignition, and Master Coaching.
"Deep Practice" is all about the means of "earning myelin," i.e. building skill, as effectively and rapidly as possible. The essence of deep practice is a sort of intensely focused start-stop observation and experimentation, in which the practitioner is constantly making mistakes and looking to correct them one by one. It is not so much about speed as relentless repetition in the pursuit of small, incremental improvements... pushing the edge of the envelope inch by relentless inch. There is even a universal facial expression: As Coyle describes it, deep practicing kids all over the world bear uncanny resemblance to a squinty-eyed Clint Eastwood.
The section on "Ignition" is all about the critical factor of motivation -- the source of passion and desire that keeps the fire burning. Without ignition, i.e. the presence of that constant burning fire, the energy and mental drive to continue on in the grueling path of deep practice is not there.
"Master Coaching" focuses on the methods of top instructors and teachers -- the older, wiser souls who are great at helping others become great. Surprisingly, the profile of the master coach is not so much aggressive and enthusiastic as focused, personalized and low key. Coyle's investigation reveals the perhaps surprising truth that master coaching, in its essence, is far more cerebral than emotional. There is indeed an emotional component to it, but the emotion is strategic and applied with calculated purpose. Everything the master coach does, down to the slightest interaction, is meant to maximize skill transfer. In a way it comes down to a sort of brute force mathematics: The greater the number of meaningful small adjustments a coach can pack into a tight time space, the faster the student learns (and thus the faster the myelin forms). This idea of coach as rapid-fire iteration machine is eye opening.
As for personal takeaways, Coyle's book has inspired me to take even more deliberate strides towards excellence -- to sort of hire myself on as my own Master Coach. The practical application of this involves more routinely stepping outside myself... evaluating a performance or a piece of work from a distance... recording detailed critiques in a journal or personal recorder... and looking for as many rapid-fire points of incremental improvement as possible before moving on to the next project.
The book's payoff was greater than just that, though, in fostering more commitment to learning processes I had already embraced intuitively. I was delighted to discover the concept of "automaticity," for example, as this term (which I had not heard before, in spite of having read a number of brain books) synched up with a phrase of my own invention. Automation and Documentation, or "autodoc," is the self-styled terminology I had previously used to describe the process of articulating and unpacking information into the subconscious mind, such that commonly executed skill routines gradually become automatic. I did not realize there was already a term in the field for this.
One question "The Talent Code" brings to mind is this: What does it mean for the human race now that we are getting so much better at skill development, i.e. figuring out what deep practice really is (and how to do it)? Are we going to see more prodigies, and ever greater levels of achievement, now that a new generation of kids -- and more importantly their doting parents -- are getting a clearer sense of where "talent" actually comes from and what it's really all about?
On the one hand, you have inspiring books like this one, complete with the egalitarian excellence battle cry and the nascent promise of rapidly spreading competence. We are finally learning to maximize human potential, huzzah! On the other hand you have all these laments -- which seem to be growing at about the same rate as video game popularity -- about how the mind is being destroyed by Xbox and Playstation, mindless Google and Youtube searches, Facebook friends and Twitter feeds, cell phone texts and so on... all these never-ending distractions that are turning our collective brains into ooze.
As the "Talent Code" revolution takes hold of a motivated minority -- while passing the majority by -- could we be headed into a society with an even greater divide between haves and have nots than before? A world where talent-enabled kids find themselves even more advantaged than before, competing against a mass of bogged down lumpen content to sink into the pleasant quicksand of sugary information stimuli? In other words, will we have "myelin megachievers" stomping around like godzillas amidst slack-jawed dodos? Or is that a bit much?
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I read it in a week whilst working on the frontlines of Covid 19. It is truly wonderful to learn that from childhood through our entire lives, we can be sparked to reach new heights. It also gave me hope to continue to practice until I reached my own level of expertise in my hobbies and work alike.
It's also great to know this stuff so you can encourage/teach/coach your own kids.
Also get 'The Little Book of Talent' by the same author, where he condenses the lessons from this book into helpful short tips that you can use yourself.