Book Review: Talent Is Overrated

June 28, 2011

This is a review from my Favorite Books list; the link from which will be also on the Books Page.

“Ambitious parents who are currently playing the ‘Baby Mozart’ video for their toddlers may be disappointed to learn that Mozart became Mozart by working furiously hard.”

I used to be different. I used to think “talent” was this god-given blessing to a baby in the womb, a destiny to be a famous writer or football player. That someone was just born with some uncannily high ability at some vocation, and there was nothing they, or anyone else, could do to stop this great ability.

I don’t think this way anymore.

Talent is Overrated explains how the people we commonly refer to as “talented” as explanation for their abilities and achievements — Tiger Woods and Mozart are popular examples — actually had and have been working damned hard at their craft for a long time before we even knew they existed.

This means two important things. One, the people whom we think are great by the lucky blessing of talent actually just have been practicing their skill longer and harder (Tiger’s dad had Tiger learning golf at three months of age). The other is, we have no excuses. Any person can become great at an ability with focus, drive, and years of deliberate work. Meaning, the excuse of “I’m not talented at that” should be re-phrased to, “I have not practiced that enough.”

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