Many of us know people who are seemingly blessed with an innate ability—a “natural” athlete, the musician who has “the gift” for an instrument, or the neighbor born with a green thumb. We like to ascribe their skill and accomplishments to inborn capacities because, in some way, it lets us off the hook. It’s not our own lack of discipline and imagination that limits our accomplishments: it’s our cursed genes.
But journalist Daniel Coyle’s bestselling Talent Code makes it hard to hold on to that explanation for what distinguishes the exceptional from the mediocre. After researching a range of extraordinary athletes, master musicians, and outstanding achievers in various fields around the world, Coyle found a particular pattern of focused, guided practice and instruction that creates top performers across many disciplines. Genes matter, but not as much as you think. In the following interview, Coyle describes the essential ingredients that are as relevant to increasing therapeutic effectiveness as they are to other kinds of advanced skills.
RH: How did you become interested in talent?
COYLE: I found a newspaper clipping a few years back that described a unique tennis club outside of Moscow called Spartak, which had produced more top-20 women players than the entire United States over the past few years. I went and found one…