I have just finished reading what will be one of my favourite books of the year; “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It is Grown” by Daniel Coyle. The book identifies the factors that make certain areas of the world better at some talents than others. It draws on examples from a Elite Music School In Dallas, a Tennis Academy in Russia and the Sao Paulo Brazilian Football Schools of the 1970s amongst others.
The premise of the book is that high performance is trained into people and not just derived from some naturally gifted talent. It identifies key elements that develop a skill, how clusters of talented people develop and the role of coaching within this.
As ever, I read any books through a visor of how would this apply to people trying to get in shape and / or improve their health. The book focused on Myelin which is what coats our nerves to create behaviour and skill patterns. The idea was almost anything we do in life comes from the shaping and development of these nerve fibres through repetitive behaviour / practice. This is not limited to say just hitting a ball or playing a piano but also can be applied to social interaction or eating.
The basis of long term skill development is repeating the behaviours crucial for success over and over so that your nervous system becomes trained to act a certain way without thinking. This then sets your behaviour in biology and not just psychology. Seeing the biological nature of this process gave insight into the amazing results I have been getting with clients since introducing behaviour experiments a few years ago.
With a focus on developing world class talent the book puts heavy focus on daily practice that trains the nervous system to become amazing at a specific skill. So this got me thinking, if I had to come up with a simple daily behaviour that would train you to become great at getting in shape what would that be?
For me it would be three simple micro-behaviours, I would look to :
Delay the start to eating by a few seconds – Anytime you are about to start eating, I would delay it by a few seconds. This could be by sitting there waiting as you count to 15, maybe you sit down ready to eat then go wash your hands, or maybe you go turn the TV off or check something in the kitchen. The key would be you are all set to eat then interrupt it.
Take a break during eating for a few seconds – As you happily eat away during your meal insert a pause for a few seconds. Again look to say count to ten, or get up and get a drink. The key here is a temporary pause mid eating.
Leave a bit of food at the end – Whatever you are eating look to leave a tiny bit of food at the end. It doesnt matter how much and may “hurt emotionally” the first few times but do it. The key here is that you have left something on the plate you would normally want to eat. Even if just 1mm of food.
You may recall all three of these experiments from the weekly behaviour change challenges I used to set in the newsletter a couple of years ago. What I like about this and what is different is the daily application of it.
You may think what is the point of waiting 15 seconds before and during eating, this probably happens by mistake all the time if the phone goes or similar. The difference is profound, a conscious decision to wait with food in front of you would (if the book is right) be sending Myelin down to the nerves that control your eating impulse. The cumulative effect of this as the weeks and month pass would be substantial and you became a different person around food.
I am going to run this as an experiment with myself and some of my clients and see how the higher frequency has an effect, will you join me??? Message me here if want more details. I feel confident this will have a very positive effect.
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