Practice Outweighs Talent in Developing Expert Performance

Daniel Coyle

Daniel Coyle

Journalist Daniel Coyle consolidated neuroscience research with stories of expert performers in The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How .
He distilled three principles that enable performance development across a variety of skills and fields: The Talent Code

“Deep” Practice, which includes daily repetition for up to several hours, observation, and corrective feedback by an expert to develop the myelin of “muscle memory” and increase neural signal strength, speed and accuracy.
This practice must be characterized by focused attention to mimic expert performance, reduce errors, and willingness to practice at increasingly more challenging levels.

Ignition, or commitment based on “unconscious desires” and “triggered by primal cues”

Master Coaching, in which to expert teacher encourages “ignition” and “deep” practice with:

1. Task-specific knowledge explained with vivid examples and meaningful metaphors
2. Perceptive tailoring to each student’s skills and needs
3. “The GPS Reflex”, or providing timely, specific guidance
4. “Theatrical Honesty,” or ability to empathically connect with students

K Anders Ericcson

K Anders Ericsson

Related Posts review foundational research by K. Anders Ericsson, who suggested that expert performance requires “10000 hours of practice.”

Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin

Talent is Overrated

Talent is Overrated

Like Coyle, Geoff Colvin argues that Talent is Overrated and can be eclipsed by systematic practice with corrective coaching.

Paul Herr’s Primal Management: Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance also argues that motivation in the workplace, as in Coyle’s broader discussion of performance and motivation, is based on the “evolutionary psychology” of “tribal survival” and includes:

Paul Herr

Paul Herr

  • Self-Protection, the foundation of Maslow’s hierarch of higher-order needs

    Abraham Maslow

    Abraham Maslow

  • Cooperation, collaborative work in groups fulfills people’s social desires to belong to a group working toward a shared goal
  • Skill deployment, opportunity to develop skills and experience satisfaction with progressive improvement
  • Competency, opportunity to demonstrate skills and receive social recognition for these improvements
  • Innovation, based on people’s curiosity and desire to make in processes, systems, ideas, Primal Managementevents

-*How do you develop your talents?

-*Where do you find expert coaching?

-*How do you persist in “Deep Practice” even when it’s “no fun”?

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©Kathryn Welds

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5 thoughts on “Practice Outweighs Talent in Developing Expert Performance

  1. Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson

    This is always welcome and hopeful news. Practicing is certainly easier when the thing you’re practicing takes you to that “flow” state anyway. But even so, there’s a point when it becomes “work” and you just have to stick with it. Dad was telling me about a college ball player who’s coach saw he had “potential” so he challenged him to shoot 5,000 jump shots a week. That’s more than an normal amount. But that extra practice made the difference. When I was playing ball and working repeatedly on left-handed layups until I could make them, Dad used to tell me, “Your’e only as good as you’re willing to fail.” He meant you’ll only get good by persisting through all those missed “layups”. Thanks for the encouragement to practice. You’re in august company:)

    Reply
    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your dad’s wise advice about pushing far enough to teeter on the edge of potential “failure” in order to develop skills to succeed more often. As Charlotte Bronte’s *Jane Eyre* advised: “Do what you ought, whether you want to or not.”

      *Kathryn Welds* welds@post.harvard.edu 650 740 0763 *LinkedIn | **Blog **|**Google+ ** |Twitter@kathrynwelds **| Facebook notes *

      On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 8:37 PM, Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and

      Reply
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