The Little Book of Talent written by Daniel Coyle is a book about the question of how to get better with skill. Coyle interviewed many talent hotbeds and master trainers. The outcome of his research is a list of 52 directives on improving an ability.
He separates his list of directives into three major categories:
- Part One: Getting Ready
- Part Two: Deep Practice
- Part Three: Sustaining Progress
The first section of his book describes practices to start with a new skill. He recommends looking for role models to analyze, review and copy their abilities in every detail.
Coyle separates skills into two categories, hard- and soft-skills. Hard-skills are the skills that must be very precisely replayed, often hundreds of times. He describes these by the acronym *ABC*: Always Be Consistent. Soft-skill is the capability to choose the best solution from a large selection of possible options. He describes them via by acronym *3R*: Reading, Recognizing, Reacting.
Coyle then presents several approaches to ignite the initial spark for the desire to get better with a new skill. Followed by plenty of pieces of advice for initial training.
Part Two: Deep Practice
The second part deals with the learning approach itself.
He describes three different zones that can be applied to your training. The *Comfort Zone*, the *Sweet Spot*, and the *Survival Zone*. The zone where you learn the most is the *sweet spot* when you fail about 50%-80% times.
Coyle suggests that it is better to practice in small chunks. As it is preferable to practice with small and free of failure chunks than repetitions of one big piece with multiple errors.
Having no time constraint, but instead practice with a fixed amount of correctly performed repetitions is recommended.
The trainee should invent small tests and games to make practicing more interesting.
Coyle recommends to split the learning over time and not perform them in big chunks.
There should be no drills instead try to find small games with the skill that you are trying to learn.
Keeping a positive attitude is preferable over a negative reaction where you blame yourself for every minor mistake.
Part 3: Sustaining Progress
The third section is all about progress.
He states that for sustaining progress, the learner can embrace many repetitions that are performed daily.
Learning new abilities instead of trying to break bad habits is adviced.
Coyle suggests teaching the skills to learn them better.
The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks. – Mortimer Adler
Slowing down to practice any fine detail of every small chunk is recommended as over time the small steps add up to a huge step.
Impact of Software Development
When applying his ideas to computer science, we start by separating hard skills and soft skills.
The following abilities are typical examples of hard skills:
- Development Tools: Editor, IDE
- Source Code Control System: GIT
- Programming Language
- Operating System
These can be trained by learning all the functionality of the tools you are using to create the source code, like its usage and keyboard shortcuts.
Reading articles, books and watching tutorials is beneficial.
The following soft skills are typical attributes of a software developer:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Fundamental programming concepts
- Writing stable and efficient source-code
These skills can be learned by training your software development skills.
You can read articles, guides, or journals like freeCodeCamp.
To better understand a topic the Feynman Technique is useful.
Trying to do one daily SAP smallest achievable perfection each day will lead to excellent results after doing this for a longer period.
Coyle presented many directives on how to get better with skill. His collection is fascinating and provides many ideas for approaching your learning.
Where to go from here?
Below you will find some useful links that might be helpful.
- Evernote Blog. (2017, April). Learning From the Feynman Technique. Retrieved from https://medium.com/taking-note/learning-from-the-feynman-technique-5373014ad230
- Farnam Street. How to Read a Book: The Ultimate Guide by Mortimer Adler. Retrieved from https://fs.blog/how-to-read-a-book
- World Economic Form. (2016, January). The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution