I of course know who Lance Armstrong is. I have yet to meet him, even though we live in the same area of Texas and we’ve both been on the cover of Austin Fit magazine. He came to life for me when I read Daniel Coyle’s New York Times bestselling book, Lance Armstrong’s War. While I’m not a cyclist, the book was so well written that I was compelled to read every word of it. When I heard Coyle had a new book coming out, I pre-ordered it without a thought.
It arrived a few days ago. It’s terrific. The Talent Code reveals the true source of greatness. And it’s not what you might think. As the author’s site (www.thetalentcode.com) for the book says…
What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it?
Journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle visited nine of the world’s greatest talent hotbeds — tiny places that produce huge amounts of talent, from a small music camp in upstate New York to an elementary school in California to the baseball fields of the Caribbean.
He found that there’s a pattern common to all of them — certain methods of training, motivation, and coaching. This pattern, which has to do with the fundamental mechanisms through which the brain acquires skill, gives us a new way to think about talent — as well as new tools with which we can unlock our own talents and those of our kids.
The Talent Code may be the most stimulating, inspiring and informative book I’ve read so far this year. I keep reading it, underlying parts, making notes, and reflecting. It helps explain many defining moments in my own life. For example —
Back in 1969 I failed high school geometry. Got an ‘F’ in it. I had to retake the course the next year. The funny thing is, the next year I got straight ‘A’s in geometry. How did I go from F to A? I had a different teacher. The second instructor – a Mr. Ron Posey, I remember – had me follow a strict discipline, right down to using a particular notebook, putting protectors around the 3-holes in the pages, handwriting meticulously, and more. It drove some kids nuts. It helped me get straight A’s. According to Coyle, that second instructor was a brilliant coach intuitively using The Talent Code’s secrets.
Back in 1972, when I learned how to fly a single engine plane, I went through a ten-week course that was the hardest thing I had done (and have yet to do) in my entire life. I either flew a plane every day or was in ground school studying every day, five days a week, all day long. I thought the curriculum was intense. Overwhelming even. It wasn’t until I read Coyle’s book that I realized Kent State Univeristy’s flight school was teaching me exactly the way I needed to learn: by stretching me beyond what I thought was doable.
But how does all of this work to increase talent?
What was my geometry teacher and that flight school doing to turn an average (below average, really) kid into a straight A student and a licensed private pilot?
Coyle’s riveting book explains the three things needed to increase talent and go toward greatness. One essential is “the spark” of inspiration. Something has to ignite desire.
That’s what happened in 1970 when I met Rod Serling, creator of the famous sci-fi TV series, The Twilight Zone. I realized Serling was human and if he could be a famous writer, than I could too. I then put myself through a self-study program that contained well more than 10,000 hours of writing, reading, writing and more reading; of being rejected for years, and yet trying again and again (and again and again). My first book wasn’t published until 1984. The spark of inspiration was Rod Serling. This “spark” is what begins a huge, deep transformation. It’s the beginning to unlocking talent.
The second ingredient needed is a particular kind of practice.
When I was learning how to play the harmonica some thirty years ago, I nearly threw the instrument against the wall. While it’s easy to just blow through a harp and get some music out of it, learning how to blow through single holes, bend notes, and control your breathing and the resulting music is a challenge. But I kept practicing. I practiced every day at 7 pm on the front porch of an abandoned house. After an entire year, I could play like a relatively good blues harpist. But it took practice that involved struggle, errors, correction, and more practice. That’s part of the secret to increasing talent.
The third secret is great coaching.
I’m currently taking private tutoring lessons with Berlitz instructors to learn Spanish, for my speaking engagement in Lima, Peru on June 4th. While I have books, courses, CDs and more on how to speak Spanish, there’s nothing like having a personal coach there to guide my learning. When I failed geometry the first time but excelled at it the second time, it was due to a better coach. I learned to pilot a plane in a short amount of time due to great teachers. These days I have my own coaching program for people wanting to improve or breakthrough. It’s needed for noteworthy success. In fact, it’s a requirement.
Coyle’s book is essential reading for the hypnotic writing, the stories, the insights and more. At the heart of it is the news that a substance in the brain called myelin is what makes people great.
But the greater news is anyone — even you and me — can develop any talent by following the three elements Coyle describes. Doing so will build myelin. As the subtitle of his book says, “Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown.”
The Talent Code may just be “the spark” needed to turn wishful dreamers into talented greats that in the future Daniel Coyle may write about — just as he’s already done for a living legend, Lance Armstrong.
PS — The new and improved Joe Vitale Miracles Coaching program is at www.mrfire.com/miraclescoaching