Do you give talent too much importance? Do you spend a lot of time pondering whether you are talented or not? Does the idea of not having talent make you anxious? If you discovered you truly lacked talent, would you quit writing? Or would you stick to it no matter what?
A lot of people use the lack of talent as an excuse. For example, “I would like to write a book but I am not talented enough.” With such an attitude, they will never accomplish their goal.
When we think ‘talent’, we imagine an advantage we are born with. While it’s true that some people have a genetic predisposition towards something, let me ask you a question: how many people you know had done genotype testing to have their talents confirmed? Personally, I don’t know anyone, and as for the greatest writers who died already – it’s impossible to find out.
“You have talent” has become analogous with “You have mastered this skill”. And here is a sad situation that happens in a lots of schools:
The best student in the class is said to be smart and talented, while the runner-up always hears they have to “do better”. In this situation the best student might either become lazy and rely on their talents too much (which will make them disappointed in the future); or, they will grow up having an extreme pressure to always be the first. As for the runner up, they will feel constantly unappreciated and either throw the towel or fall in the trap of workaholism.
We are all born equal. Do you think an infant knows that they have talents? No. If you have an infant genetically predisposed to become a pianist, but you can’t afford a piano, instead you show them your beloved guitar – what do you think the child will choose in the future? Probably the guitar, because it will be closer to their heart. Yes, the genes do affect us, however this is just one side of the story.
I was always very curious in what makes one type of people better than the other. I wanted to know why some people win races and the other never make it. And here is the theory about what makes the talented people talented (apart from the genes, which we can’t even confirm they have):
Genuine interest in something + Love towards this thing + Doing this thing a lot + Striving to improve + Not giving up after mistakes / failures = Fast improvement + visible mastered skills (“talent”)
If there is somebody who writes better than you, it’s not because of their genes. How do I know this? If you make an adult trained writer sit next to a child that was confirmed to be genetically talented in writing, but received no education on how to write – who do you think will do better?
Let me tell you a story from my life: when I was 13, I had an internet friend, let’s call her Jane. We were a similar age, but she was so much more “talented”in writing. She had an amazing style, used a variety of words, and I truly savored everything she wrote, even if I wasn’t that much interested in the topic. I was convinced that Jane would become a bestselling writer when we both grew up, and I would always live in her shadow. But here is what actually happened: as Jane and I were growing up, she became interested in other things (mainly TV shows and her studies). She wrote less and less, and in the end, she completely abandoned writing. I was truly heartbroken, when I learned about it. I continued alone on my path. I published my first book, then wrote two more. Me, the girl who was always less talented than Jane.
Which leads us to the conclusion: whether you have talent or not, it doesn’t matter. Why, because being talented is NOT a prerequisite for success.
The prerequisites for success are:
- knowing your goal
- working consistently on that goal (I can’t stress enough, how important is self discipline)
- willing to learn from mistakes
- improving yourself each day
- continuing to do work towards the goal even if you keep failing
- believing in yourself and whatever you want to give to the world
- constantly seeking for and catching new opportunities
- willing to reach out to the right people
- being flexible and going with the flow
When people work silently for years at improving their craft and suddenly become an overnight success, they hear (at last!) that they are talented. But talent is not a superpower, it’s the end result, the by-product of all the hard work that they do.
Another story from my life: as a polyglot I’ve heard a thousand times that I am talented at learning languages. I haven’t done genotype testing and I don’t know if I am talented at languages. What I know is, I spent incredible amounts of time on learning each language for years (English – 18 years, Italian – 16 years, German – 11 years, Chinese – 5 years, Korean – 3 years). I often learned 2-3 languages simultaneously because I had to, and I didn’t complain, I just spend as much time as focused as I could. Obviously, when I encounter a language which isn’t connected to any other languages I know, e.g. Hindi or Arabic, I will be as clueless as everyone else in the beginner group. And any student who will be more passionate and disciplined, and learned Hindi or Arabic before, will be “more talented” than me.
Hard work always beats talent. If you haven’t watched this video yet, now it’s the best time to do it:
Seeing others being more talented than you is not a valid reason to give up on your own journey!!! When you see another person doing so much better than you, don’t be jealous/envious! Instead, tell yourself: if they did it, I can do it, too! Heck, I can do even better! When you see others having something that you desperately want, this is a sign that the thing you want so much is seeking you also; because it has already appeared in your reality. Do not suppress your dreams, instead, go and chase them! You don’t want to have the midlife crisis when everyone around you is collecting their harvests and you, well, have nothing to collect.