As I mentioned I've finished reading -- and assiduously annotating -- The Talent Code and begun doing the same on Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Unlike Coyle, Colvin asks the question: "Why are so many people so "ordinary" in most of what they do - from music to sports skills to their work? And why do years of experience seem not to improve it -- indeed sometimes to downgrade? "
This question gets into the aspect of "Ignition" which Eric mentioned just above.
Psychology, more specifically self-perception, is a huge factor. For instance, in a decades-long study of 100s of young music students in one school district, one factor predicted with amazing accuracy how accomplished they became after 10 years of practice. At age 7 or 8, as they were picking out their instrument, before even beginning lessons, they were asked how long they expected to play - this year, several years, or for life. The answer they gave at that time was the strongest predictive factor in how well they would play upon graduating from HS.
Those who voiced a long-term committment later progressed 400 percent more on equal practice time to those voicing a short-term committment! They even progressed more when their practice time was just 20 minutes a week compared to 90 minutes for the short-term group.
Self-perception influences behaviors -- the focus and self-examination people bring to their practice. This influences neuro-biology -- the secretion of myelin on the neuron pathways for the skill. Myelin is a fatty substance, which acts like the insulation on electrical wires. The more often and more accurately/consistently you activate a skill circuit, by sending an electrical signal from brain to particular muscle groups, the greater the signal strength when it arrives at the muscles.
The sense of "specialness" that Eric mentions is particularly strong and available in swimming because one glance at any pool filled with lappers -- or any sub-elite swim team -- will tell you that the vast majority of humans are noisy, splashy and ragged when they swim. Any TI Swimmer in their midst will stand out for their signature fluency and ease.
That gives a powerfully-reinforcing sense of specialness. On this Forum, unless someone posts a video of their stroke, you can't see their fluency, but you can easily recognize the difference in attitude and mindset from other swim-related forums. TI Swimmers gain a sense of pride in their strokes and a sense of confidence in their conceptual clarity. Both are unknown outside TI. '
All that is a distinctive part of the mindset or psychology of being a TI Swimmer. That increases passion, which leads to examined, deliberate, patient and persistent -- even loving -- practice of swimming. And each hour of such practice grows more myelin on your swimming circuits. A powerfully virtuous circle.
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist
May your laps be as happy as mine.
My TI Story
Last edited by terry : 07-21-2009 at 11:06 AM.