Talent Is Overrated PDF By Geoff Colvin

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What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else

One: The Mystery

Great performance is more valuable than ever but where does it really come from?

Two: Talent Is Overrated

Confronting the unexpected facts about innate abilities

Three: How Smart Do You Have to Be?

The true role of intelligence and memory in high achievement

Four: A Better Idea

An explanation of great performance that makes sense

Five: What Deliberate Practice Is and Isn’t

For starters, it isn’t what most of us do when we’re “practicing.”

Six: How Deliberate Practice Works

The specific ways it changes us, and how that makes all the difference

Seven: Applying the Principles in Our Lives

The opportunities are many if we think about our work in a new way.

Eight: Applying the Principles in Our Organizations

Few do it well, and most don’t do it at all; the sooner you start, the better.

Nine: Performing Great at Innovation

How the principles we’ve learned take us past the myths of creativity

Ten: Great Performance in Youth and Age

The extraordinary benefits of starting early and continuing on and on

Eleven: Where Does the Passion Come From?

Understanding the deepest question about great performance

Chapter Two: Talent Is Overrated

Confronting the unexpected facts about innate abilities

In 1992, a small group of researchers in England went looking for talent. They couldn’t find it.

They were looking for musical talent, which made sense because that’s the kind people feel most certain about. They know it exists.

They know there’s a reason why they can’t sing and other people can, or why Mozart could write symphonies when he was a teenager, or why some people can play the piano beautifully as mere children while others struggle to play a scale.

Most people simply know that certain lucky individuals are born with a talent for music, and that’s the main factor in how well they perform it or write it.

When researchers in a separate study polled a sample consisting mainly of education professionals, more than 75 percent believed that singing, composing, and playing concert instruments requires a special gift or talent; that 75 percent is a higher proportion than those who believe particular talent is necessary for any other field.

So the researchers looked at 257 young people, all of whom had been introduced to the study of music but who otherwise varied widely.

They were classified into five ability groups, ranging from students at a music school who were admitted by competitive audition (the top group) to students who had tried an instrument for at least six months but had given it up.

Researchers matched the groups by age, gender, instruments, and socioeconomic class.

What Is Talent?

If it turns out that we’re all wrong about talent and I will offer a lot more evidence that we are that’s a big problem.

If we believe that people without a particular natural talent for some activity will never be very good at it, or at least will never be competitive with those who possess that talent, then we’ll direct them away from that activity.

We’ll tell them they shouldn’t even think about it. We’ll steer our kids away from particular studies, whether they’re art, tennis, economics, or Chinese because we think we’ve seen signs that they have no talent in those realms.

In business we constantly see managers redirect people’s careers based on slender evidence of what they’ve “got.”

Most insidiously, in our own lives, we will try something new and, finding that it isn’t easy for us, conclude that we have no talent for it, and so we never pursue it.

Thus our views about talent, which are extremely deeply held, are extraordinarily important for the future of our lives, our children’s lives, our companies, and the people in them.

Understanding the reality of talent is worth a great deal.

We must be clear about what we mean by the term. People often use it just to mean excellent performance or to describe those who are terrific performers. “The Red Sox have a lot of talent in the outfield” means only that the outfielders are very good.

“The war for talent,” a popular topic in business and the title of a book, means the fight to attract good performers. In the TV business, “talent” is the generic term for anyone who appears on camera.

“Get the talent on set!” just means get the performers to their places; anyone who watches much TV realizes that in this case, the term is totally nonjudgmental.

AuthorGeoff Colvin
Language English
No. of Pages212
PDF Size1 MB
CategorySelf Improvement

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