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How to Develop Abilities and Talent

How to Develop Abilities and Talent

How to develop abilities and talent.

We live in a world composed of innumerable facts, which form the base of all knowledge.

The development of abilities and talent, is based on the following:

  1. Selective focus.
  2. Identify and classify facts.
  3. Understand the relationships between facts.
  4. Create a mental model (a theory), to explain the facts.
  5. Memorise your theories and mental models.
  6. Transfer memories into your long-term memory (your knowledge bank).
  7. Apply the knowledge in practice.
  8. Practice and perfect your performance.
  9. Your perfect performance is later perceived by others as "natural ability", or "talent".

1. Selective focus onto specific facts.

In order to develop talent, focus your mental efforts onto a restricted set of facts.

  • If you want to be a musician, then you must focus on musical facts.
  • If you want to be an engineer, you must focus on maths and the facts of engineering.

The primary cause of failure for most people, is not lack of opportunity, but rather the failure to focus their minds onto a single point.

If you want to develop your talents, the primary skill you must master is mental focus.

The second skill is...

2. Identification and classification of facts.

All subjects are composed of many thousands of elements. In order to be considered "talented", you must identify and classify the component parts and organise them into sets, so that you understand the basic nature of the topic or skill you are trying to master.

Then you must begin to...

3. Understand the relationships between facts.

As you increase your factual knowledge it is important to understand the RELATIONSHIPS that exist between sets. Understanding something not only entails knowing the facts, but also, HOW they are arranged, relative to each other.

For example: It is not enough to learn the vocabulary of a foreign language, you must also know the grammar, because a foreign language differs from English, not only in the words, but also in the word order.

In order to develop any talent, you must understand mutual RELATIONSHIPS between facts.

5. Create a mental model (a theory) to explain the facts.

Now you have a body of facts and you understand the mutual relationships between them, you should now create a theory that unifies the information into a coherent whole.

What is a theory? A theory is a set of abstract principles that is:

  • A description of a specific aspect of reality. and/or
  • An explanation for a specific aspect of reality, and/or
  • A prescription for successful action, when dealing with a specific aspect of reality.

Many people disparage the term "theory", as if it were somehow ephemeral and of no consequence. But unless you understand the theory that underpins a particular skill, then you will never master the skill.

Since, if you don't know why things are as they are, then you will be condemned to perpetual uncertainty; you will be forced to "make it up as you go along", which means, GUESSING.

Instead of guessing, formulate a theory that underpins your subject and memorise it.

6. Memorisation of theories and mental models.

Memorisation is not automatic.

If you are to memorise something properly, then you need to do it consciously and methodically.

The method of conscious memorisation is a five-part process: Which I refer to as the RAISE model.

  • Repetition - Research suggests that for information to stick to your memory, you must repeat it at least five times.
  • Imagination - Visualise the information.
  • Association - Associate it to your existing knowledge.
  • Structure - Mentally reinforce its internal structure.
  • Effort - Memorisation is a form of work.

7. Transfer memories from short-term to long-term memory so that it becomes knowledge.

Take as long as you need to transfer information from your short-term memory, to your long-term memory. The only reliable way to get information into your long-term memory is through repetition. Five times may not be enough. When it comes to embedding information into the long-term memory, Repetition is important.

8. You need to quickly apply the knowledge in practice.

It is not enough to know something only in theory. Theory must be put into practice.

To really understand it and embed it in your brain, you must put knowledge into practice. Knowing HOW lift a heavy weight is useless unless you actually LIFT the heavy weight.

Knowing HOW to play a major scale, is useless unless you actually sit-down and attempt to PLAY a major scale.

  • To know, you must do.
  • To do, you must know.

There is a reciprocal relationship between abstract theory and practical action.

9. Practice and perfect the performance based upon your expert knowledge.

Practice must be methodical and repeated over many weeks, months and even years.

It is true that the top professionals study and train every day. Gold medallists still have to train for many hours.

The moment a champion thinks that they can get away with NOT training, relying instead on their so-called "natural talent", they lose their title.

They find their "natural talent" was, in fact, an expression of years of focused attention, intelligent thought, study, practice and refinement.

Display of expert performance is perceived as "natural ability and talent".

There is no such thing as "a natural".

Champions are created, not born.

Champions are created by the system we have talked about, which can be summarised as follows.

  1. Development of a Selective mental focus.
  2. Identification and classification.
  3. Understanding of relationships.
  4. Mental models (development of good theories).
  5. Memorisation (Short term).
  6. Knowledge (long term memory).
  7. Application: Knowledge into practice.
  8. Practice makes perfect.
  9. Perfect performance is perceived by others as "Natural ability".

Irrespective of what people say, we know that your success wasn't luck.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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