We had a lively and fruitfull discussion of the Outliers
proposition, and so to continue on that is another book called "Talent
is OverRated" [Geoff Colvin]. [I thought it deserved it's own
thread, I hope that is ok?. Long thread just lose their flavour.]
By the way, this is not about being "successfull" in terms of personal
happiness, or being content, or finding our own groove, this is the
"best in the world" stuff... when up against anyone else, these people
do it better.
By coincidence, I heard
Charlie Rose interviewing Colvin today, right after an interview with
Malcolm Gladwell, the Outliers author. Rose had an hour on this theme of "what makes the best".
Besides these two
authors, some of the "top dogs", or "world class performers" that I
know personally, such as CEOs and musicians, all say that IT ISN'T
TALENT, IT IS HARD WORK.
Here is a quote from a review of Colvin's "Talent is Overrated" book :
Colvin offered new evidence that top performers in any field--from
Tiger Woods and Winston Churchill to Warren Buffett and Jack Welch--are
not determined by their inborn talents. Greatness doesn't come from DNA
but from practice and perseverance honed over decades.
just plain old hard work, like your grandmother might have advocated,
but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you
analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that
enables you to achieve greatness.
[doesn't the 'paste plain text' feature work here?]
But still, I have to say that becoming the best at whatever task or
skill might have something to do with talent, or at least some kind of
brain-ability. Certainly, there cannot be anything wrong with the brain
of a person who becomes "the best". Maybe that is all that talent
is, with the twist of having a brain that does that kind of thing well,
of being oriented to hand-eye tasks, or numbers, etc.
I think there is also the idea of being willing to work hard at
something, and for that to happen, a person really does need to have
some initial success at whatever they are choosing to work at. Someone
who just barely passes a test will not be as enthused about working
hard enough to get 100% on the next test, but if you do get 90% then
you feel great and it is not that hard to make yourself put in the
hours of study for the next test.
golfing early, "before he had a chance to start developing bad habits"
, as his dad said. That is helpfull for sure, but I doubt that there
are many kids who would not just get fed up and even angry about being
pushed so hard. Parents can usually sense how their kids are taking it,
if there is frustration or enthusiasm to continue. Tiger says he loved
to get out and start practise, and I bet his Dad could feel that
But it is not for everyone. So, for
those who are willing to work hard enough to be the world's best, I
still have to say that they have some early success that helps them be
enthused about doing that work; and that is the nature of TALENT.