Being Great

Finished reading an intriguing book: The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. Some take-away points will be written here, as well as some quoted lines from the book.

The book takes a look at people who are talented, great, world-class champions and how they got there. Most of these people were NOT born with it! It was not something that just clicked one day and they became pro. It’s a matter of how these people were practicing a certain skill, for many, many hours, with a correct technique, and reached the level of being the best soccer player, tennis player, musician, artist, etc. Most of them didn’t have the luxury of having the best things in life; in fact, it was quite the opposite. However, they understood that to get better at something, they needed to practice, practice, and practice some more. They put in tremendous amounts of effort and were able to slowly progress forward. To reach the level of profound expertise, about 10,000 hours were put in to a skill. Wow!

Myelin: A mixture of proteins and phospholipids forming a whitish insulating sheath around many nerve fibers, increasing the speed at which impulses are conducted.

From the book: “Every human skill is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse. Myelin’s role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out.” So when we practice a particular skill, myelin wraps insulation around that neural circuit, and with each new layer there more skill and speed occurs; our movements and thoughts become more accelerated and precise.

To get better at something, one needs to STRUGGLE. I need to make mistakes, understand how and why it happened, and slowly learn how to master it. Example: to get better at playing a musical instrument, I would need to practice, find out where I’m making mistakes, and practice that part so many times that my brain has been trained to do it properly. It’s a muscle. The more you train it properly, the stronger it’ll get at a faster rate. “Deep practice requires serious effort and passionate work.”

Trainers or coaches provide specific and targeted instructions so the student or trainee could hone in on that one particular skill or set of skills. Encouragement or praise is provided for effort.

Virtues of master coaches: “Matrix is… the vast grid of task-specific knowledge that distinguishes the best teachers and allows them to creatively and effectively respond to student’s efforts. A great teacher has the capacity to always take it deeper, to see the learning the student is capable of and to go there.” Next virtue is perceptiveness and being able to figure out the student. GPS reflex is a third virtue: shock the students, push them, provide a concise acknowledgement of a success and move on “Good. Now ___.”  The fourth virtue is honesty especially when it comes to pointing out errors, not sugar-coating every statement and making the student feel good about something that wasn’t performed correctly or appropriately.

This book is so helpful in providing tools that can be used to maximize potential in myself and my students.


Categories: Life, School | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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