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“Talent Hotbeds”

Daniel Coyle, author of “The Talent Code,” has a knack for putting things in words based on his research of “talent hotbeds” – coaching situations that produced high performers consistently.

This book is where we first learned about the myelination of circuits in the brain. The process occurs based on deliberate practice and tearing the skill apart into many different small skill sets, and the brain can chunk these skill sets into one automatized action. In fact, when we used the word “myelin” in an article years ago, spell check did not even recognize the word, but we kept using it anyway. Myelin became a topic of many articles and discussions on our monthly Coaching Hour podcast.

Coyle has another book, “The Little Book of Talent,” which is a must-read if you are on the road to self-improvement in any area of your life. His tip #17, “Embrace the Struggle,” is written so well that we will not attempt to paraphrase it. We will quote it:

At all of the talent hotbeds, from Moscow to Dallas to Brazil to New York, I saw the same facial expression: eyes narrow, jaw tight, nostrils flared, the face of someone intently reaching for something, falling short, and reaching again. This is not a coincidence, deep practice has a telltale emotional flavor, a feeling that can be summed up in one word: ‘struggle.’

Most of us instinctively avoid struggle because it is uncomfortable. It feels like failure. However, when it comes to developing your talent, struggle isn’t an option – it’s a biological necessity. This might sound strange, but it’s the way evolution has built us. The struggle and frustration you feel at the edges of your abilities – that uncomfortable burn of ‘almost, almost’ – is the sensation of constructing new neural connections, a phenomenon that the UCLA psychologist Robert Bjork calls ‘desirable difficulty.’ Your brain works just like your muscles. No pain, no gain.”