In the talent hotbeds I visited, the chunking takes place in three dimensions. First, the participants look at the task as a whole – as one big chunk, the mega circuit. Second, they divide it into its smallest possible chunks. Third, they play with time, slowing the action down then speeding it up, to learn the inner architecture.
Why do break-through performances sometimes ignite talent booms, and sometimes not?
The answer is that talent hotbeds possess more than a single primal cue. They contain complex collections of signals – people, images, and ideas – that keep ignition going for the weeks, months, and years that skill-growing requires.
Struggle is not optional – it’s neurologically required: in order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must by definition fire the circuit sub optimally; you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes; you must slowly teach your circuit. You must also keep firing that circuit – i.e., practicing – in order to keep myelin functioning properly.
Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts. The importance of reputation until automaticity cannot be overstated.
“The second reason deep practice is a strange concept is that it takes events that we normally strive to avoid – namely, mistakes – and turns them into skills. To understand how deep practice works, then, it’s first useful to consider the unexpected but crucial importance of errors to the learning process.” – Daniel Coyle
“What made (John) Wooden a great coach wasn’t praise, wasn’t denunciation, and certainly wasn’t pep talks. His skill resided in the Gatling-gun rattle of targeted information he fired at his players. This, not that. Here, not there.“
“The people inside the talent hotbeds are engaged in an activity that seems, on the face of it, strange and surprising. They are seeking out the slippery hills… they are purposely operating at the edges of their ability, so they will screw up. And somehow screwing up is making them better.” – Daniel Coyle
“The fact that a targeted effort can increase learning velocity tenfold sounds like a fairy tales in which a handful of tiny seeds grow into an enchanted vine. But strangely, the enchanted vine turns out to be something close to neurological fact.”