Friday, June 5, 2015

Talent has its limits, Skill doesn’t

We tend to celebrate those who have an abundance of what appears to be “natural talent”. That is, what appears to be a natural gift for performing some task well above the average. Chances are that what is actually being witnessed is a combination of talent and skill, with skill being far and away the greater component of the two.

Why is perceived raw “talent” so celebrated? The reason probably lies in the fact that it is easier for people to digest the belief that achievement is more the result of random genetic luck outside their control than consistent individual effort. Such a belief, therefore, alleviates a requirement for hard work because success only appears to be associated with randomly winning the genetic ‘'lottery”.

The reality is that talent is certainly a gift and some people have greater talent than others, but talent has its limits. One of these limits is that you can’t accumulate more talent, you receive your allotment at birth and that is the balance you retain throughout your life.

Skill on the other hand is limitless. The more effort you are prepared to invest the more skill you will accumulate, it really is that simple. Yet there’s the rub for most people, skill requires effort. What’s more, true skill requires continued effort but is something that you can constantly build every day of your life.

Optimal results are obtained when you marry your given talent with on going skill development. I hear many times how people “can’t” when really what they are saying is they “won’t” because they are not inclined to make the effort. That attitude is nothing more than a mental block preventing them from achieving more. The distance to move from “won’t” to “want” is small, yet for many it is a barrier that never gets overcome.

Life is not a Disney movie. There is no one coming to save you and roll out the red carpet before the credits roll. That is your job. You are equipped with the physical tools to achieve anything, what prevents you doing that is only your state of mind.

So many focus on just the physical, but like your physique, your mind needs to be trained as well if it is to remain healthy. Like unused muscles, if it is not exercised regularly it withers and dies.

The question to you is then what are YOU doing to exercise your mind? What are you doing to build your mental capacity and expand your horizons, achieve your goals and live an enjoyable life? That last question seems clichĂ© right? But ask yourself, are you honestly living an enjoyable life? Every day? I don’t find many strongly affirmative answers to that question when it gets asked.

The choice is yours. You can live a life bounded by whatever talents you have been endowed with, or you can embark on a journey of never ending opportunity and potential by regularly exercising your mind and building your skills. Even if you start way behind the “talent-only” pack, the certainty is that one day you will surpass them. It is at that point you begin to truly appreciate that the “unfair” advantage of what many equate only as “natural talent” is in fact nothing more complex than effort.

If you change “can’t” and “won’t” to “want” nothing will ever stand in your way. You, and you alone control the key to an enjoyable life by focusing on skill rather than talent.