When I think about my talent, I have a difficult time finding anything I'm good at. Seriously! And the more I think about it, the more depressed I get...I have no skills. I recently updated my professional resume and I feel like the older I get, the less focused I become. Maybe that's just me. I can NOT say I am a graphic designer, programmer, software developer, technical architect or data scientist. My resume looks more like this: effective collaborator, ability to understand complex problems, analytical thinker, excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
So, is this normal? Am I ok? Will I succeed in life?
When I read a book like The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (2009), it really makes me stop and think. About me and everyone around me. There are two main themes in the book: Deep practice and Ignition.
My kids are in soccer and I watch them practice. Many coaches just scrimmage most of the time while some share a few sneaky moves they ask the players to practice. Practice is the key to success and we all know, practice makes progress. But what kind of practice? This is where "Deep Practice" comes into play. According to Daniel Coyle (2009), deep practice is targeted, mistake-focused practice (pp. 34) where you repeat, attend to mistakes and repeat over and over and over again with passion and persistence.
Next is "Ignition". Ignition is that "thing" deep down inside of you that gives you the motivation to take action. "If you don't love it, you'll never work hard enough to be great." (pp. 34)
I'm testing my kids with their soccer practice. I don't care if they can run, dribble, go in and out of cones and score a goal. Its HOW they do it. Recently, I have suggested they practice one or two key moves that they can get excellent at, use in any situation and practice it over and over and over. In fact, we have moved to the small space in the house (similar to the futsal example at the beginning of Coyle's book). Are they doing it? Yeah, actually they are. Do they want to do it? I'm not sure but they have asked me on several occasions to practice their soccer moves. I doubt they will ever be professional soccer players but I want them to know that they won't be great at anything unless they practice and have passion for what they are doing.
The games will be starting soon and here is where they will learn whether their practice is paying off. If they lose the ball or it is taken away, it would imply to me that they need more practice. I hope they feel this deep need within themselves to take responsibility for their skills and keep practicing. As Coyle, stated, "The lessons the players teach themselves are more powerful than anything the coach might say". (pp.194)
This is also helping me change the way I think about myself, my talents as well as how I coach my children in all that they do. I've learned to watch and listen while I let my children fail, learn, fix, try again and feel a sense of pride in their own progress.
Coyle, D. (2009). The Talent Code. New York: Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
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