Big bursts in small doses

This book is indeed little! This concise little book packs a lot of wisdom into 120 pages. It contains 52 techniques for improving skills, based on author Daniel Coyle’s research into human excellence, and how we get there. The brevity is the name of the game. So, you will not find any lengthy stories or compelling arguments expounding Coyle’s theory of greatness, with footnotes at every other page. If you want to read to that depth, pick up the author’s The Talent Code. The Little Book of Talent is an extension of that one.

The Little Book of Talent<br />Author: Daniel Coyle<br />Publisher: Random House Books<br />Price: ` 399
The Little Book of Talent
Author: Daniel Coyle
Publisher: Random House Books
Price: ` 399

The tips that are listed in this book, as the reader will note are simple to read and understand; a format which works for this kind of book. Most excellent coaching seems really simple after the fact. As is the case with many good reads, the more difficult part is to follow through on the tips – doing the right thing at the right time that will help the student push harder than they ever thought they could.

The tips are pretty interesting, and there are chances that readers will find them accurate, by their own intuition and experience. Well, at least, this reader did! In addition, what is impressive is Coyle’s theoretical framework.

The book is divided into three sections, Getting Started, Improving Skills, and Sustaining Progress. Each section consists of a number of “tips” (or Tools as they’re called in the self-help world). There are some great tips here, though none that are earth shattering – most of these either stem out of common sense, or have been written about before, but it is nice to have everything condensed down to one book. The general idea is that dedication, repetition (practice) and hard work seem to get you where you need to go. While the focus in on developing both hard and soft skills, much of the advice pertains to other areas as well. Also, if you don’t know the difference between hard and soft skills the book explains that too. The only critique is that some of the tips just read like other tips repackaged and could probably have been cut out. A few interesting ones are:

  • Steal Without Apology – Build on other’s work
  • Don’t Fall For The Prodigy Myth – Early success is poor predictor of future talent (see Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, etc)
  • Five Ways To Pick A High-Quality Teacher Or Coach – This is great – some of the best advice in the book
  • Take A Nap – Science says so . . .
  • To Learn From A Book, Close It – Great advice. Don’t read to retain information. If you follow this tip you will retain more information, much faster. Valuable advice.
  • Don’t Wast Time Trying To Break Bad Habits – Instead, Build New Ones – Great advice
  • Keep Your Big Goals Secret – Why you should not share your newest dream with your friends – very interesting and helpful as well.

Coyle has a lot of interesting research, and throws a lot of light into human behaviour, but the one thing that his research cannot refute is the popular impression that some people inherently more talented than others, they are just born that way. And as per human experience, that could be true. That said, one needs to understand that human beings are not born with readymade skills; we have to learn them. Thus it would be entirely correct to say that all geniuses must perfect their skills through intensive practice. What is missing is the genius had a greater capacity for that talent than you when he started, and if you both went through an identical training regimen, the difference would rapidly become obvious.

The other important thing Coyle has going for him is very few of us are so skilled in anything that we are bumping up against our capacity limits. You can almost always get better at whatever it is you are doing with more effective techniques. The talented people will just learn faster, and learn more than the rest of us.

This review was done at the request if our reader, management student Alka Choudhury. If you want to read the review of a particular book in this space, write to us at knowledge@fpj.co.in

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