How To Get Better At Anything

Paradiddles.  Doesn’t it sound kind of like a dance move?  So when my drum teacher asked me to play them, I thought, “No problem,” because he had already showed me how that drumbeat : RLRR, LRLL and so on, (R – right drum stick, L – left drum stick) could be mastered by just going slow and building my speed up over time. AND it did go well, until he told me to head on over to the drum set where he then asked me to add the bass drum, and cymbals in addition to the snare drum! WHAT?? That was OTT (means over the top in music speak) and way too much.

But then, he did a funny thing, he had me break down  the sticking into each component part (My left foot, my right foot, my left hand and my right hand.) It felt like I was trying to fly a helicopter on the ground! After he showed me how to do that,  he had me slow it down, and when I could do that, he had me work on smoothing out my playing. What seemed like an impossible task in the beginning turned into a framework that showed me how I could eventually master this skill. Way cool!

What I didn’t know was the method he used was similar to the method outlined in the book “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle.  According to Coyle, top performers have talent, but a large part of what sets them apart is their incredible work ethic, AND the use of this concept called Deep Practice. (You can click the picture for more information about the book)

But before we get to the outline of how you can follow six easy steps to jump start your skill development, there are some basic concepts you have to grasp first.

The Simple Facts About Our Biology:

  1. “Every human movement, thought, or feeling is a precisely timed electric signal traveling through a chain of neurons — a circuit of nerve fibers.
  2. Myelin is the insulation that wraps these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy.
  3. The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become.”

Are you starting to see why practice is so so important?

Two More Fun Facts:

  1. “All actions are the result of electrical impulses sent along chains of nerve fibers.
  2. The more we develop a skill circuit, the less we’re aware that we’re using it… We’re built to make skills automatic, to stash them in our unconscious mind.”

Now does it make sense why pesky habits are so hard to get rid of?

The point of this brief lesson in neurology is to make the simple but deadly point that skill = biology = myelin development.

So what does all of that have to do with deep practice? Deep practice develops myelin in a way that makes you become really good at what you do. You become stronger, faster and more fluent in your movements.

And what is so great about that is that you can learn deep practice, too!

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Speaking of developing a practice that works for you, I have a tool  that will help you get started creating the life you want to live on your own terms. It’s a free resource that asks you some key clarifying questions that helped me and my clients to do just that!

Click here to GET ACCESS

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Losing it. Heard that saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it?!” Well it’s based on the concept mentioned above that if you don’t fire the circuits of a particular activity, thought, or feeling, the myelin starts to break down around that circuit, and as a consequence, makes it weaker and weaker until it will not fire well, anymore. Want to get rid of a habit, stop doing it, and just wait. Eventually, the desire to do it disappears. Conversely, if you want to keep a skill and improve on it, daily practice is the key, and deep practice is THE BOMB.

Speaking of practice. I just did a Facebook Live, yesterday, on this very topic, where I not only illustrate the six steps of Deep Practice below, but also started to build consistency in my practice of speaking live. You can find it here: Facebook Live Practice #2

Here is a brief summary of the steps that help you learn a skill faster, better and with more accuracy.

Six Steps to Deep Practice

  1. Get a big picture overview
  2. Break it down to the smallest blocks of information (chunks) that can be easily mastered
  3. Slow it down to the speed that can be easily mastered
  4. Get it down through repetition (Turn inward and identify what it feels like when you do it right, and wrong)
  5.  Build it back up, and then
  6. Slowly increase speed

Once you get used to practicing these six steps, any skill you want to learn will become a lot easier to master, and if you do the work, your steps to mastery will be faster, too!

Practice makes progress, or like Coyle likes to say, “Practice makes myelin.” And with daily practice, myelin makes you a bad ass drummer and Facebook Live presenter . 🙂

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this summary of Coyle’s book.  It really is worth your time to learn, in detail, how to use deep practice in your life. Here is the link to my latest Facebook Live Show, again. #WhiteboardWednesdays

Until next time,

Until next time, remember, you are so much more than who you think yourself to be

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