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The Little Book of Talent

The Little Book of Talent

Date read: 2021-01-10
How strongly I recommend it: 8.28/10
(See my list of books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon book for details and reviews.

The Little Book of Talent

Talent is more by nurture

“Talent is determined far less by our genes and far more by our actions: specifically, the combination of intensive practice and motivation that produces brain growth”

Steal without apology

Look at every single performer better than you and see what they’ve got that you can use.”

“When you steal, focus on specifics, not general impressions.”

Daily performance journal

“A high percentage of top performers keeps some form of daily performance journal

“Results from today. Ideas for tomorrow. Goals for next week. A notebook works like a map: It creates clarity

Small actions and transformation

“Small actions, repeated over time, transform us”

Where talent begins

“Talent begins with brief, powerful encounters that spark motivation by linking your identity to a high-performing person or group. This is called ignition, and it consists of a tiny, world-shifting thought lighting up your unconscious mind: I could be them”

Stare at your hero

“Use pictures (the walls of many talent hotbeds are cluttered with photos and posters of their stars) or, better, video. One idea: Bookmark a few YouTube videos, and watch them before you practice, or at night before you go to bed.”


luxury is a motivational narcotic: It signals our unconscious minds to give less effort. It whispers, Relax, you’ve made it”

Simple, humble spaces help focus attention on the deep-practice task at hand: reaching and repeating and struggling”

How to grow your brain

reaching, failing, and reaching again is the way your brain grows and forms new connections”

mistakes are not really mistakes—they are the guideposts you use to get better

Developing hard skills

“be careful, slow, and keenly attuned to errors”

Precision especially matters early on

“Our brains are good at building connections,” says Dr. George Bartzokis, a neurologist at UCLA. “They’re not so good at unbuilding them.”

“When you learn hard skills, be precise and measured. Go slowly. Make one simple move at a time, repeating and perfecting it before you move on. ”

“Learning fundamentals only seems boring—in fact, it’s the key moment of investment. If you build the right pathway now, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the line.”

Be slow to see mistakes

“The point of this super-exaggerated slowness (which produces songs that resemble those of humpback whales) is to reveal small mistakes that might have gone undetected, and thus create more high-quality reaches.”

Hard skill vs soft skill

“HARD, HIGH-PRECISION SKILLS are actions that are performed as correctly and consistently as possible, every time

“Hard skills are about repeatable precision, and tend to be found in specialized pursuits, particularly physical ones”

“Hard skills are about ABC: Always Being Consistent.”

“SOFT, HIGH-FLEXIBILITY SKILLS, on the other hand, are those that have many paths to a good result, not just one. These skills aren’t about doing the same thing perfectly every time, but rather about being agile and interactive; about instantly recognizing patterns as they unfold and making smart, timely choices. Soft skills tend to be found in broader, less-specialized pursuits, especially those that involve communication

“Soft skills are about the three Rs: Reading, Recognizing, and Reacting.”

The best way to start learning a skill

“The key to effective engraving is to create an intense connection: to watch and listen so closely that you can imagine the feeling of performing the skill

“Chess players achieve this by replaying classic games, move by move; public speakers do it by regiving great speeches complete with original inflections; musicians cover their favorite songs; some writers I know achieve this effect by retyping passages verbatim from great works.”