Talent is Overrated

The belief has always been that top-performers in any endeavour are born with a gift called ‘talent’; you either have it or you don’t.  What’s more, people with talent often believe that their talent, their skills, are immutable, written in their genes just like their appearance and, without too much effort, success is their destiny.

Not true, according to a growing body of scientific research.  It turns out really excellent performance is based on what researchers term “deliberate practice” – a well-defined set of activities that world-class performers pursue diligently.  The more deliberately they practise, the better they perform (Colvin 2008).

Success is 99 per cent persistence. It’s time to recognise that high achievement is NOT reserved for those few who are ‘genetically invigorated’.  Success is available to each and every one of us who are willing to pay the price of constant and deliberate action.

That said, talent of any description is a great start but it’s only as good as the effort that assists it to grow.  People with passion rise up in the face of challenges, thriving on the opportunity to grow and learn.  Passion allows people to love what they’re doing—and to continue to love it in the face of difficulties.  Finding success in accomplishment, in learning and improving is exactly what you find top-performers doing.

The bottom line is, passion and persistencecan empower you to outperform people with more talent than you. Successful people refine old skills and acquire new ones through persistence and application.  As individuals, if we learn how to harness the principles of deliberate practice more fully, we can become much better at everything we do (Colvin 2008).

Unfortunately, people with great talent often fall prey to believing they ‘know it all’; they are very reluctant students and are, therefore, unteachable.  They are more concerned with how they’ll be judged, needing to validate intelligence rather than cultivate talent through effort, ultimately restricting growth.  To them, being found wanting and not all-knowing is tantamount to disaster.

Teachability expands your talent.  The desire to listen, learn and apply makes all the difference.