While “Talent is Overrated” is the namesake of a book written by Geoff Colvin, it’s also a truth that, when looking to better yourself, must be accepted. Excuses are easy to find, but more importantly and even more dangerous, is that we’re willing to write off someone else’s hard work, dedication, and investment of time as “talent.” This is a practice I’ve seen us, as humans, use to explain away why someone else can do something that we ourselves cannot. “They’re just talented.” “They were born with a gift,” “it’s easy for them because they’re talented,” “They’ve got ‘it’” What “they” have is drive and discipline and those two qualities are available to everyone.
This concept is so simple that it feels cheap to write about, but for some, it remains an enigma to many. So how does one acquire “talent?” It’s very simple; put in the work. What’s the easiest way to learn a language? Start learning it. What’s the easiest way to start learning Jiu-Jitsu? Start going to a gym and taking Jiu-Jitsu. Through sweat, time, and determination you will begin to realize you seem like the talented one to others.
Then you will hear the excuses from people that wish they could do what you’re doing. “Well, it’s easy for you because you do it all the time,” “You’re just talented when it comes to X, I couldn’t do that if I tried.” This is when you ask the open-ended question “Oh, what happened when you tried?” Even if they choose not to answer, hopefully, it will plant an idea in their head. You didn’t ask IF they tried but asked about the outcome WHEN they tried. At this point, you know that’s all it takes, just trying.
While this process of acquiring talent is simple, like most things worth having, it’s not easy, but it’s still possible. Any sort of noticeable “talent” is simply a byproduct of hard work. It’s also important to keep in mind that you need not be at the apex of your field to seem “talented,” you just have to be better than those around you.
Through practice, you will begin to learn what your template for “talent” is. This could entail things such as waking up early to put in work before anyone else is awake so you aren’t pestered, scheduling out what you’re learning and sticking to it, holding yourself to a higher standard than those around you, treating your schedule/goals as laws that cannot be broken. Once you’re able to obtain “talent” with one skill, you’ll be able to apply that template to any other skill. You’ll start to surprise yourself with just how “talented” you really are.
If you’ve followed along with anything else that I’ve written you’ll start to notice overlap of quotes, ideas, and concepts. That’s because all of these ideas are intertwined and very similar. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before. I’m just trying to dumb it down for the rest of us.