Why it’s not all about talent

Talent has been seen for a long time, as the winning factor for a lot of world renound artists, atheletes, musicians, chess grandmasters etc. But a lot of research has been done to go against this, to show that hard work, a lot of the time, trumps talent by miles.

So, what does talent mean?

Natural aptitude or skill

(Aptitude meaning a natural ability)

Why is talent not the dogs bollocks

A chess grand master has learnt to remember thousands upon thousands of combinations in chess, with a technique called chunking (which I will get onto in a minute). A table tennis world champion can react to a smash in two-hundredths of a second, with a tennis player reacting to a serve in four-hundredths of a second. Now a lot of people think these reflexes, or ability to remember mass information/sequences are talent, but this can be argued with some pretty heavy evidence.

Some experiment that was done in the late 20th century carried out to find out how long it took to become world-class. The answer was 10,000 hours. Say you do 2 hours a day every day of the year, thats 13 and a half years. So we will round this to 15 years as the chances of exercising this every day of the year is unlikely.

Now read these letters once, slowly, then look away and try to remember them.

HVMPQBSYFHULOGG

The chances are you managed to remember between 5-7 letters. Now a scientist and an ordinary man set out to remember as many as they can. The man started out remembering 5-7 numbers just like me and you. But after 300 hours of training himself with a technique called chunking, he managed to remember 80 numbers. Then his friend tried it and managed to remember 120 numbers. Now this isn’t raw talent that got him to remember all of these letters, it was pure practice and hard work in a strategic manor.

What is chunking?

Chunking means to divide something into chunks. Now people who remember long sequences of letters or numbers use this method. For example, the man in the previous example who managed to remember 80 numbers, would remember the numbers in chunks, related to times of running. For example 2 10 05, 2:10.5 is a very good time for a marathon, and this is how he remembered the numbers, showing his previous love for running lead to him gaining this skill, no talent involved. People who have to remember long sequences of letters might imagine a house, and try to make small words out of letters to turn into items around a house, then visualise themselves walking around the house.

Now back to chess grandmasters, chess grandmasters practice for an average of 25 years to amount to their level, and will predict up to 15 moves ahead of their current one. They aren’t born with this skill to predict how people will move. They will visualise groups of chess pieces in certain places and remember that sequence being used in previous chess matches.

So this goes to show that anything not related to physical attributes (like a basket ballers height, or a road cyclists lungs) can produce a better outcome when pure graft is used and practiced for a long time.

This also goes to show that people who want quick gains aren’t in the winning aisle. These people who get to the world-class area, who practice for 10+ years to get to where they want to be, are the winners, in it for the long run to become the very best. So for the people who think they can become the best in their industry in a year, or join the olympics by next summer with no practice, have another thing coming. Because the competition is VERY hard as people are finding new techniques to practice and get better.

Do not rush things, you need to have experiences and learn from failure. Get your long term plan together, with short term milestones to get there, and get your fucking head down, determined to get to where you NEED to be to keep your own sanity. And if this isn’t your situation, then your goal, is not the goal of your heart and you should keep looking.

Actions to make immediately

Think of what you want to be the best at, weather your currently doing it or not (this could be a sport like football, or a business owner of a technology company) and find the best person in the world at it (for football this might be Ronaldo, and the technology company might be Elon Musk). Then do 10 minutes to an hour of revision on them. How they got started, what their routines look like, what their secretes are etc. And I bet 9/10 of them will have been born with nothing to help them, and they built it all themselves.

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