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The Talent Code

Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

By Daniel Coyle
15-minute read
Audio available
The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

The Talent Code uses recent neurological findings to explain how talent can be trained through deep practice. It shows how nurturing our cellular insulation – called myelin – influences the development of our skills, and explains why certain methods of practice and coaching have been used in “talent hotbeds” around the world to great success.

  • Anyone who wants to understand where talent really comes from
  • Anyone who wants to learn to practice anything effectively
  • Anyone who wants to become a better teacher, instructor or coach

Daniel Coyle is the bestselling author of books including the award-winning Lance Armstrong: Tour de Force and The Secret Race: InsidetheHiddenWorldoftheTourdeFrance. He’s also a regular contributor to magazines such as the New York Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated, and a contributing editor to Outside magazine.

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The Talent Code

Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

By Daniel Coyle
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle
Synopsis

The Talent Code uses recent neurological findings to explain how talent can be trained through deep practice. It shows how nurturing our cellular insulation – called myelin – influences the development of our skills, and explains why certain methods of practice and coaching have been used in “talent hotbeds” around the world to great success.

Key idea 1 of 9

All skills are based on the same cellular mechanism: the production of myelin around neural pathways.

Even with the combined effort of the best researchers around the world, the human brain remains a perplexing topic.

And yet, everything we think, feel and do is a result of what happens in the brain, whether we’re throwing a basketball, contemplating Plato or simply feeling happy.

In fact, all actions, feelings and thoughts are the result of electrical impulses that travel along a series of connected nerve fibers that we’ll call “circuits.”

Each of these circuits corresponds to a single action, thought or feeling. For instance, our ability to move our muscles is due to the electrical impulses that are passed through those circuits – like a puppet whose movements are determined by the way that the puppeteer controls its strings. If our muscles didn’t receive signals from the relevant brain circuit, they would be completely useless.

The neural circuits which carry those signals are encased in a substance known as myelin, which, until very recently, was thought to be mere insulation for the more important nerve fiber it’s wrapped around.

But that’s only partially true. While myelin indeed acts as insulation for the neural circuits, it also plays a crucial role in the development of skill.

That’s because myelin determines how quickly and precisely a signal can travel along a circuit. Much like a wider road allows you to drive faster, a thicker layer of myelin enables electrical impulses to travel more rapidly through a circuit. And the thicker the myelin, the greater your ability to control movements and thoughts more accurately.

Because every skill depends on how strong, precise and fast the relevant circuits work, the thickness of the myelin layers that surround those circuits is a crucial factor behind every skill you might have.

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