Simple Ideas with Profound Impact

BFK Book Review: The Talent Code

Daniel Coyle has examined the ways in which people, as individuals or as groups, get better in a number of his books. And it all links back to the brain!  We’ll be sure to review each of them (listed at bottom of review) in time but will start with the first in his series: The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

Name of Book:

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

Summary of Book:

A New York Times bestselling author explores cutting-edge brain science to learn where talent comes from, how it grows—and how we can make ourselves smarter.

How does a penniless Russian tennis club with one indoor court create more top 20 women players than the entire United States? How did a small town in rural Italy produce the dozens of painters and sculptors who ignited the Italian Renaissance? Why are so many great soccer players from Brazil?

Where does talent come from, and how does it grow?

New research has revealed that myelin, once considered an inert form of insulation for brain cells, may be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Journalist Daniel Coyle spent years investigating talent hotbeds, interviewing world-class practitioners (top soccer players, violinists, fighter pilots, artists, and bank robbers) and neuroscientists. In clear, accessible language, he presents a solid strategy for skill acquisition—in athletics, fine arts, languages, science or math—that can be successfully applied through a person’s entire lifespan. (Summary courtesy of


Book Category:

Parenting Books


Why We Like It:

Let’s change that to why we LOVE it! This is one of the books we recommend most often to parents. There are many reasons why.

First of all, we recommend it because Daniel Coyle GETS IT! More than any other author writing about the human brain, he understands that the bottom line for everything we do is the development of our brain. He understands this at a very deep level, something we have rarely encountered in more than 4 decades of working with children and the human brain.

Second, Coyle makes an extremely complex subject understandable to a non-scientific audience. This makes The Talent Code perfect reading for our parents, who want to understand more about how their children develop but who, for the most part, are not scientists and don’t want to become scientists! We appreciate this because it is something we have done for many years in working directly with parents of brain-injured children. There are lots of people who know a lot about the brain but there aren’t many who can talk about it in a way that the man or woman on the street can understand.

Ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? It was formulated by Swedish psychologist, Anders Ericsson. The rule says that expertise in any endeavor is the result of about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. That’s about ten years. It’s been proven to be true across many fields of endeavor. The Talent Code explains why.

One of the wonderful things about The Talent Code is the way in which it shows the broad application of the neurological principles in many areas of life. Coyle explores the idea in relation to football (soccer), tennis, baseball, music, writing, skateboarding, painting, sculpture, etc. This is important because it highlights just how critical brain development and function is to everything that we do.

Another reason we like this book is because it also looks at the neurological basis of talent with regard to coaching and mentoring. What is the best way to practice a skill? What are the qualities to look for in a good coach or mentor? As children develop interests in various endeavors they will need people in their lives who can foster those interests and help them develop their abilities. The Talent Code can be an invaluable resource for parents as it gives good guidelines for learning how to spot those people.

The Talent Code ends with a look at how we can apply the neurological basis of talent outlined in the book to the fields of education, business, psychology, aging, and raising children. Finally, someone who sees the bigger picture! As I said at the beginning, author Daniel Coyle GETS it!


Others in the Series:

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