The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills

After all, you aren’t built to be transformed in a single day. You are built to improve little by little, connection by connection, rep by rep. As Wooden also said, “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.

A good example of this technique is found in the work of the Shyness Clinic, a program based in Los Altos, California,

A method of schooling founded by the Italian educator Maria Montessori that emphasizes collaborative, explorative learning, and whose alumni include Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page; Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales; video-game designer Will Wright; Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos; chef Julia Child; and rap impresario Sean Combs.

As Pablo Picasso (no slouch at theft himself) put it, “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.

As the martial artist and actor Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times.

As Wooden also said, “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.

Even the most creative skills—especially the most creative skills—require long periods of clumsiness.

Feeling stupid is no fun. But being willing to be stupid—in other words, being willing to risk the emotional pain of making mistakes—is absolutely essential, because reaching, failing, and reaching again is the way your brain grows and forms new connections.

GIVE A NEW SKILL A MINIMUM OF EIGHT WEEKS

ignore the bad habit and put your energy toward building a new habit that will override the old one.

Inspiration is for amateurs.

is for amateurs.

Luxury is a motivational narcotic.

Master teachers and coaches don’t stand in front; they stand alongside the individuals they’re helping. They don’t give long speeches; they deliver useful information in small, vivid chunks.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes myelin, and myelin makes perfect.

Practice on the days that you eat.

Studies show that even a brief connection with a role model can vastly increase unconscious motivation.

Studies show that even a brief connection with a role model can vastly increase unconscious motivation. For example, being told that you share a birthday with a mathematician can improve the amount of effort you’re willing to put into difficult math tasks by 62 percent.

Super-slow practice works like a magnifying glass: It lets us sense our errors more clearly, and thus fix them.

The blame lies with our brains. While they are really good at building circuits, they are awful at unbuilding them.

The solution is to ignore the bad habit and put your energy toward building a new habit that will override the old one.

Think of your windshield as an energy source for your brain. 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.

This works because when you communicate a skill to someone, you come to understand it more deeply yourself.

TO LEARN IT MORE DEEPLY, TEACH IT