One of my favorite books about excellence is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. Coyle writes regularly on his blog about how greatness is grown. His latest post introduces the concept of a Learning Quotient (LQ). Take his questionnaire here:
Rate yourself from 0 to 5 on the following questions according to the usual scale: 0 for strongly disagree; 5 for strongly agree.
- 1. You work on your skills for an hour or more every day
- 2. You are focused on process, not the immediate outcomes
- 3. You have strong relationships with mentors/coaches, and use them as models and guidance
- 4. You are keenly aware of how much you do not know, and the gap between your present abilities and your longterm goals
- 5. You can accurately and precisely describe the skills you want to build
- 6. You think about improving your skills all the time
- 7. You approach your daily work with enthusiasm
- 8. You are balanced between building with repetition and seeking innovations
- 9. You are comfortable going outside of your comfort zone
- 10. You are constantly adapting and refining your learning process
While there are no data yet to which to compare your numbers, your score roughly captures how open (and committed) you are to growing your talent. What I really like about Coyle’s idea is how it taps into a well-established body of research connected to our mindset about growth. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford, has been investigating and writing about mindset for many years. Dweck writes
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
Coyle and Dweck are right on. My experience with elite athletes (interviewing and coaching them) indicates that most have a phenomenal growth mindset that would be reflected in a Learning Quotient.
Cultivating your LQ and growth mindset should be your goal. It helps you stay focused on the important aspects of training. Also, it is largely about letting go of your ego. Just as with deliberate practice, there is a lot of opportunity to correct the little things. And as I often tell my athletes, “It’s the little things that you do that matter. Especially when no one is looking.”