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Friday, May 31, 2013

Group Genius: Post #5--Flow

Flow: Well-known psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi named “flow” as a peak experience of heightened consciousness and creativity. Four characteristics: 1) Skills match the challenge (note difference between boredom and frenzy); 2) The goal is clear; 3) Constant feedback about progress toward the goal; 4) Concentration is fully on the task—and time flies.  People reach flow most often in conversation with others, which leads to creativity.  Basketball represents pure group genius, especially pickup ball with no clock or referee—it’s “flow” in motion.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Group Genius: Post# 4--Innovative Leadership

Innovative Leadership: Self-directed groups responding to change are effective at responding rapidly. Traditional leaders break down tasks, assign them and keep track. Innovative leaders create  ”space” for creativity to happen. John Kao, Harvard Business School professor, thinks that modern business is much more like improvisational jazz because there is no script!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Group Genius: Post #3--Collaborative Process

Collaborative Process: Looking at jazz and improv comedy, Keith Sawyer observed 10 things about the process. Here are a few: 1) Innovation emerges over time—it’s a bit-by-bit thing that can be invisible until it’s observed scientifically; 2) Successful collaborative teams practice deep listening—you have to listen closely to react naturally and develop the process; 3) Team members build on their teammates’ ideas—deep listening leads to reacting and building the story; 4) Meaning comes later—the team improvises toward meaning, that comes after the process has a chance to work.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Group Genius: Post #2--Collaboration

The Power of Collaboration: The Wright Brothers did not have a single aha moment before they flew. Rather, they collaborated, they tried, failed, modified, tried again, kept notes, and one day it all came together. Collaboration is almost always a bit invisible.  Whether it’s mountain bikes, physics, art, music or making widgets—it’s always been about invisible collaboration.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Group Genius: Post#1--Overview

Overview: What do jazz, improv comedy, and businesses all have in common? They’re all collaborative experiments that can bring you pleasure and at times pain—but always something new and unpredictable. Bottom line, it’s the group, not individuals, that sparks creative genius. Radical creative breakthroughs like the television, the airplane, the Internet, and more are ultimately the result of collaboration, not a single genius’ insight. If ours is becoming an innovative economy, teaching people the power of group genius becomes critical.

Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration (Basic Books, 2007) by Keith Sawyer, reviewed by Steve Gladis PhD  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Talent Code: Post #6--Four Virtues

Four Virtues of Master Coaches
a.    The Matrix: Many master coaches are in their 60s and 70s and possess a complex web of “task specific knowledge” that gives them the depth and power to help their protégés.
b.    Perceptiveness: Coaches like John Wooden have deep perceptiveness that works on figuring out what’s going on. Such coaches act like investigative reporters; they observe, deliver information, and look for the student to react—a process designed to move the student forward.
c.    The GPS Reflex: Coaches don’t mince words. They “shock” with short, expressive bursts. They give directions that are short and clinical, like a GPS: Turn right or turn in 100 feet. Coaches layer on levels of difficulty. “OK, good, now try this….” Great coaches PUSH people.
d.    Theatrical Honesty: Drama and character are tools of the master coach. A dramatic flair with honesty helps the master coach do what’s important—point out errors. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Talent Code: Post #5-Master Coaching

Master Coaching—The #3 BIG THING:  The great coaches at various “hotbeds of talent” were older (had been teaching/coaching for 30 years), disciplined, focused, and often were quiet and observant, prodding and adjusting only when needed. When coaching, John Wooden, famed UCLA basketball coach, often spoke in short, pithy statements like “do this,” “try that,” “look up,” etc.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Talent Code: Post #4--Ignition

Ignition—The #2 BIG THING: Deep practice isn’t easy and requires a spark to start it and fuel to keep it going. Coyle calls this stimulus “ignition.” He likens it to “emotional rocket fuel.” Sometimes it’s personal; something happens in life—a momentous occasion, like you meet the president and decide to become a politician. Or in South Korea, when Se Ri Pack won a big LPGA tournament, a whole nation’s future women golfers got ignited. Time and again, there will be a breakout of success and then a contagious fire that takes place and ignites.
a.    Tiny Idea: When kids were asked about playing a musical instrument—how long they thought they would play their instrument—their responses determined a lot. Long-term-commitment kids with a low level of practice (20 minutes a week) progressed faster than kids with a short-term attitude but who practiced much more (about 1 hour a week).
b.    The Trigger: Primal, unconscious clues are big motivators. Things like the unspoken message—“I want to belong to that group”—will force us to practice or imitate others to become part of a group. Another primal clue, “I’m not safe,” will trigger people to work hard to protect themselves. It’s tripping the hair trigger of the reptilian brain that ignites the energy to get practice—deep practice—moving. The author notes a study of famous men and women who lost a parent early in life as contributing proof of how insecurity can trigger action and deep practice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Talent Code: Post #3--Deep Practice

Deep Practice—The #1 BIG THING: No pain, no gain. That’s what you might call Coyle’s “deep practice.” We learn best when we struggle and invest time and effort into developing a habit or skill. See Coyle’s exercise on p. 16 to demonstrate this finding for yourself. When we slow down, try, fail, retry and keep trying…we grow. Just watch kids starting to walk or talk. Our brain is NOT like a tape recorder, but like scaffolding—the more we build, the faster learning takes place. Three Rules of Deep Practice:
a.    Chunking. Like making a movie, build a scaffold scene by scene, move by move. Gymnasts and all athletes break the whole into parts (chunks) and practice, then integrate them. Slowing down further imbeds the process.
b.    Repeat it. Repetition of the activity, not talking or thinking about it, makes the difference. Trying, failing, fixing, retrying—that is the magic sauce. Deep practice must be not just time spent, but time spent in the sweet spot of the edge of your talent to keep you challenged.
c.    Learn to Feel It.  Practice concentration: “…the feeling of reaching, falling short, and reaching again,” (p. 91). Reaching for a target just out of reach is where genius begins to grow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Talent Code: Post #2--Myelin

Myelin—The Game Changer: Every time you learn something, like swinging a golf club, a set of electrical impulses from the brain to the muscles involved gets reinforced. Simply put, the nerve fibers involved get wrapped by a fatty insulator called myelin, which acts like electrician’s tape to keep the electricity from spilling out. The result: impulses go faster and faster—like a car going from 10 mph to 100 mph. And the more times you practice (if done deeply with intention), the quicker you learn.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talent Code: Post #1--Overview

Overview: Whether it’s great Russian tennis players, Brazilian soccer players, Korean women golfers, or amazing artists and dancers, world class talent is NOT born but built over years of deep practice, an igniting moment, and a great coach. At the heart of it all is a substance we all produce called myelin that insulates nerve fibers and determines how well and quickly we acquire skills. UCLA Neurobiologist George Bartzokis says of myelin: “Revolutionary…the key to talking, reading, learning skills, being human.”
The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. Here’s How. (Bantam Books, 2009), by Daniel Coyle, reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mindset: Post #8--Changing Mindsets

Changing Mindsets. Here’s the good news: Mindsets can be changed. What you tell people changes their mindsets. Kids told how smart they were did not take on challenges or do anything that would expose their flaws. But, of the kids praised for effort, 90% wanted to take on challenges, regardless of exposure to failure in order to learn. In fact, kids told that they’re smart or intelligent are more likely to lie about their accomplishments or even cheat to sustain their image. Dweck has developed a mindset workshop that treats brain development as muscle building. Kids who learned growth mindset saw their grades shoot up. Simple awareness about growth mindset can change people from giving up to persevering.  The more of a growth mindset you develop, the more people want to work with and help you, especially after you remove the cloak of armor of being special, above the rest. Often, it’s easier to pretend you’re perfect than admit to and work on a flaw. We often opt to avoid anything that makes us feel vulnerable. Talking to kids from a growth mindset helps them not be afraid to experiment, fail, and learn. Talk about effort, experimenting, and tell them that making mistakes is OK, even helpful, because it can change their mindsets over time. Praise effort—not being smart—and watch mindsets change.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mindset: Post #7--Love and Mindset

Love and Mindset. Fixed mindsets get hurt easily and are defensive in their relationships. Following being hurt, they want to get revenge. People with growth mindsets are more about understanding, forgiveness, and growth. Fixed mindsets seek instant and perfect relationships (fixed), but growth mindsets, believing it can change with effort, nurture the relationship. Growth mindsets see flaws but don’t paint the entire relationship with the same broad brush. “The trick is to acknowledge [communicate with] each other’s limitations, and build from there” [p. 154].

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