Vlog 1: Talent is overrated: Introducing the theory


Click above to watch the video blog

Does innate talent exist or are we a product of our environment? The debate about nature vs nurture continues however this time I’d like to debate this about how we perform in business. I believe most of us have been told and possibly agree with the theory we are either born with a certain talent or not however is this theory true? I recently read a book called ‘Talent is overrated’, by author Geoff Colvin which challenges this theory and clearly states there is no scientific evidence to prove innate talent exists. After reading this book I’m still unsure if don’t believe innate talent exists however I agree until it’s proven we should discuss the results of studies which prove certain methods do exist to develop an average performer into a high performer.

There are many examples of talented people over the years whom we can provide evidence where certain practices were used whilst their success developed. They may have been born with a talent however we are certain they also benefitted from the methods applied in training. One example comes to mind obviously, Tiger Woods however let’s discuss another example as Tiger is a sporting talent we’ve compared to in almost every high performing article written over the past 20 years. So lets take a look at Mozart, he was raised by his father, a professional composer of music. His father helped him begin writing music and playing instruments at the age of 4 years so by the time he was a teenager he’s been practicing the art for almost a decade and being instructed for hours on a daily basis by a fully qualified composer and music teacher. Once again, I’m not for a second claiming he wasn’t born with a talent for writing music or playing the piano however I do believe there were methods which helped develop his skills to a level he may not have achieved if he had not followed the same path.

When I speak of developing an average performer into a high performer I’d like to use the analogy of driving a car to illustrate how majority of us go through life. Whilst we spend most of our adult lives at work we don’t seem to push ourselves to greatness, certainly not all of us. So learning to drive a car, we firstly learn the theory required, then we coordinate this knowledge with physically learning to control the vehicle and lastly as the third stage we drive the vehicle to a level of adequacy without having the ‘drive’, pardon the pun, to further our driving skills. We seem happy to just know how to drive from A to B rather than pushing ourselves to be the best driver we possibly can. I’m happy with this, as I’m sure you are however when we consider we spend so much time at work why don’t we have the drive to become the absolute best we can, the elite in our profession. Seems crazy when we put it that way doesn’t it?

So, this is the 1st of 3 blogs with a video blog or vlog as we call it. The first is to introduce the topic and ask for you all to ponder on the question do we have a talent from birth or not? I’d love to hear your views on this, what do you think? Have you ever witnessed someone at the very top of their field, someone you can say is in the elite level of their profession, if so what is your theory on why they are so good? Were they born with a certain skill, talent which gives them an edge over the rest of the field or have they simply pushed themselves applying certain techniques of further development? My 2nd vlog on this topic will provide my understanding of the ways we can push ourselves or coach someone to become a high performer. The steps to take and the traits we do or don’t require in progressing from average performance to high performance, potentially the elite levels of our field. My 3rd and final vlog on this topic I will discuss how I believe we can apply this to business. In the book mentioned ‘talent is overrated’ the author Geoff Colvin discussed the three fields which are easiest to measure what makes someone great; chess, music and sport. From these findings, we can discuss how to apply the development techniques to our careers in business. It is a lot harder than the above-mentioned fields however it is possible. For now lets simply discuss your thoughts on the topic, and lets debate, does innate talent exist or not, We can then progress the discussion as I release my 2nd and 3rd vlogs in the coming weeks.

This week I was kindly invited to an event by Like-minds. Drew is the founder of Like-minds festival which began in Exeter before being hosted in several major cities as New York, Helsinki & Beijing. Drew has now brought Like Minds back to Exeter in September where it will remain. Like Minds are also running a monthly nosiness breakfast in Southernhay which I highly recommend. This week we were fortunate to hear from Oli Barrett, an entrepreneur with an amazing drive for creation of brilliant, ground breaking ideas. If you haven’t heard Oli speak, you need to. Thank you to Like Minds and Astley Media for bringing such a charismatic person to Exeter.