Why talent is overrated

 In Mindset

“Until most individuals recognize that sustained training and effort is a prerequisite for reaching expert levels of performance, they will continue to mis-attribute lesser achievement to the lack of natural gifts, and will thus fail to reach their own potential.” K Anders Ericsson, Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.

I came across quote in an online PowerPoint presentation, ‘The Great Talent Myth’ by Jim Kouzes. The link is: http://media.wiley.com/assets/1538/59/JimKeynoteSlides.ppt

In the presentation, there is a another quote from Geoff Colvin, author of the great book, ‘Talent is Overrated‘: “The first major conclusion is that nobody is great without work. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great one day, but it doesn’t happen”.

The theme of the Kouzes presentation and Colvin’s quote and book ties in with IDP (Intentionally Daily Practice) discussed in last week’s post and another post.

In my speech communication and sales presentation work, as in this and the last few posts, it can seem that I belabour the point/theme of IDP – but there is no other way, if you want to be an expert in your field of endeavour. In addition to Intentionally Daily Practising a technique/skill, you need to get objective feedback on your performance: from other people, from video recording yourself performing key behaviours and watching the playback and from audio recording yourself and a listening to the audio clip.

One slide in the Kouzes presentation reads, ‘Most leaders are amateurs’. The point he’s making is that most leaders don’t intentionally work on being a better leader on a daily basis.  Professionals (blue or white collar) have a profession and take their ‘profession’ seriously. Amateurs have a interest/past-time and their seriousness about it is optional. (I’m not suggesting that you take yourself seriously, but that you do take your profession/field of endeavour with seriousness).

If you are a leader or aspire to be one, be a professional, not an amateur.

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