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This book makes a case that talent is something else besides the nature and nurture stuff. Author based on his field research says that there are three ingredient’s to talent which are
  1. Deep Practice
  2. Ignition
  3. Master Coaching

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Deep practice involves struggling in a targeted way so that the learning happens at an accelerated pace. It is not usual “practice, practice , practice” mantra BUT one needs to stretch to reach a specific target and keep learning in the process. Roger Federer,for example does not play 1000’s of shots each day. He practices for a few hours and works on his timing. So, deep practice at the outset is a little different where one can describe it as error induced learning. It involves three stages as described in the book. Chunking the task + Repeating it + Learning to feel it.

The author gives a great blend of examples to support his case.

  • Bronte’s sisters little books
  • Brazilian football Futsal
  • Z Boys – Empty Swimming Pool
  • Florentine artists – Apprenticeship
  • Russian Tennis stars – Practicing with imaginary ball
  • Dallas Music School – How the students learn stuff differently

Ignition , the second attribute of talent is basically a mix of long term commitment, deliberate practice, persistence etc. The beauty of this book is the range of examples quoted like KIPPS Schools in US, South Korean Woman Golfers, Anna Kournikova’s role in Russia’s tennis talent upsurge, Scrooge Principle etc.

The third attribute is Master coaching. This aspect is a great read for a wannabe teacher or for that matter anybody who wants to groom talent, be it in a school / organization / game.

Applying the above stuff : Let’s take a programming language and let’s say you want to be good at it. How can one deep practice it ?

Writing 1000 programs each having a random objective would be helpful but the learning pace would be slow. Let’s say one wants to master data visualization skills. Using a specific library to carry out a task is ok but if you want to master it, you have got to create some specific mini projects and work towards them. These mini projects should be challenging enough to make you stretch , but at the same time, should be with in a reachable distance , else one might give up. So one of the challenges in mastering a language is to create mini projects which are with in one’s reach, where there is a vague idea that you will commit errors in the process of completing the mini project. These errors are the key to learning. This mini project could span a few days, to few weeks to a month. If one has not made any mistake for more than a week or so, then it is clear that one has set an easy target and the whole purpose of working on a mini project becomes futile. Now this has to be on a regular basis. So, one needs to be pretty creative to come up a list of progressively tougher mini projects which will grow your Myelin .What’s Myelin..well, that’s the stuff mentioned in the book which actually gives some scientific reason behind author’s arguments. Statements rooted in science are easily believable …In that sense, this book has a very strong case for an approach towards talent development.

Takeaway from this book filled with beautiful examples : Stop + Struggle + Make Errors + Learn is the key to developing any talent

Well, if not for anything else, the examples in the book make it a worthy read.

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