Talent is Overrated


This probably won't be the first time you have heard this phrase but it is still one which is hugely pertinent in the world we live in today.

A world where our expectations for making progress are out of sync with the natural laws of improvement.

Patience is short while demands for results is on the rise. There is a natural conflict at play.

Back to what talent is for a moment then...

Talent is hours and hours of deliberate practice that goes unseen.

If you have ever read any of the texts and studies on talent, you will know that the so called experts in any field do not arrive there by accident, even though sometimes it may seem that way.

By the time you notice somebody and deem them an expert, studies reveal time and time again that they have spent hours and hours of deliberate practice honing their craft, often away from the watchful eye.

In the book Outliers the author Malcolm Gladwell studies the lives of extremely successful people to determine how they arrived at that level of success.

One of the stories focuses on a group of violinists. In the 1990's a team of psychologists studied the practice habits of a group of violin students in Berlin, from childhood to adulthood and focused their research on the number of hours of practice each student had devoted to the violin over the course of their life.

All of the group began playing the violin around the same age of 5 and dedicated roughly the same amount of time to practice. By the age of 8, the practice times of the group began to diverge. By the time they were 20 years old, the elite performers in the group had practiced over 10,000 hours while the less capable performers had practiced around 4,000 hours.

The notable part of the study was that there was a direct correlation between the hours of practice and the performance level of the students over that time and no deviations from this rule. Thus meaning no "natural talents" emerged from the group. Nobody reached an elite level having practiced less.

There are plenty of studies and examples proving the same theory. What often looks like a natural talent is often hours and hours of deliberate practice. There are no accidents.

You may have heard the story about Bill Gates when he found Microsoft. People might think this was luck or good timing, but studies reveal that he had been programming for thousands of hours before he dropped out of college and launched Microsoft in 1975.

But what does this mean for you and me today?

How might this relate to your business and the development and management of talent in today's world?

There are many lessons to be gleaned from this research. Firstly, the reminder of the need for patience whenever we are starting something new.

Either for ourselves or with others. We cannot expect to be good at something straight away and that's okay. It's easy to be swept up in the idea that instant results are plausible but this goes against proven laws of science.

Expertise, results, great performance takes time and deliberate practice. Accept this and get to work.

Secondly, if you are in a business and would like to improve the management of talent then create the conditions for people to develop their skills.

Perhaps this will mean giving employees an allocated amount of time per month to work on a project of their own choice (like Google and many other companies are doing now).

Provide the right conditions for people to excel. Be careful not to make assumptions about people's abilities before you understand how many opportunities they have had to develop their skills.

Remember the correlation between hours of practice and level of performance. Are you giving people enough time and opportunity to develop their skills?

Who knows, giving people more opportunity in your business may just create a breakthrough product or solution for you. You won't know until you try.

These are just some of the lessons I share in my work as a motivational speaker, stay tuned for more regular content.

Thanks for reading...

Martin Robert Hall

#motivationalspeakeruk #talentmanagement #manchester #london #inspirationalspeaker #martinroberthall #motivationalspeakermanchester #keynotespeaker #leadershiptraining #motivationalspeakersuk #talenthardwork #hardworkmotivation #mentalperformance #businessperformance

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