Failing is a Good Thing…..Deep Practice

In his fascinating book, The Talent Code Daniel Coyle describes how the brain reacts when a person develops a new skill. Performing an action involves firing an electrical signal through a neural pathway; each time this happens, it thickens the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers like the rubber coating on electrical wires. The thicker the myelin sheath around a neural pathway, the more easily & effectively we use it. Heavily myelinated pathways equal mad skills.

So how do you build up myelin sheaths around new skill circuits? According to Coyle, you need deep practice.

Deep practice is the same no matter what the skill. First visualize an ability you’d like to acquire – meditating like Deepak Chopra, playing music like Chopin or flowing in yoga like your teacher. Then try to replicate that behavior. Initially, you’ll fail. That’s good; failure is an essential element of deep practice. Next analyze your errors, noting exactly where your performance didn’t match your ideal. Now try again, you’ll still probably fail (remember that’s a good thing), but you’ll “fail better.”

Examples of people engaged in deep practice are everywhere. Examples are my daughter or son improving their sports skills, my yoga students improving their focus, breath, strength & flexibility, Talent Show contestants improving their performance each week.

When you trigger the sensation of deep practice you’ll begin to feed challenges & master unfamiliar skills.