A national best seller, ‘Talent is overrated’ is written by the Geoff Colvin. He seeks to demystify some popular beliefs about an intriguing topic – talent. Is talent inborn? Can we cultivate people with talent? What separates world class performers from everybody else?
Geoff Colvin believes that talent is not merely about having the innate and natural ability to do things better than others. Tracing back to studies done in England in 1992, where 257 children with musical abilities were analysed in detail, he concludes that the only factor that mattered was practice. Children who practiced the most were the ones who were the most accomplished.
The Importance Of Deliberate Practice
Citing talented superstars such as Tiger Woods, the Beatles, famous composers and athletes, he stresses that they carried out deliberate practice to get to the top. Deliberate practice means practising in a focused and deliberate manner for a prolonged period of time. It means putting in hard work for a prolonged period of time. He notes that ‘greatest innovators in a wide range of fields – business, science, sports, painting and music – all have at least one characteristic in common: They spent many years in intensive preparation before making any kind of creative breakthrough.
The Importance Of A Supportive Home Environment
In the largest and most famous study done by Benjamin S.Bloom, a legendary educational researcher, 120 of America’s most creative young talents were analysed. There was one glaring similiarity shared by all these highly accomplished people. Regardless of the differences in the parents’ background, professions and incomes, they all came from child-oriented homes. This means that the parents placed great importance on their children. These parents modeled a strong work ethic and taught their children the value of being disciplined and goal oriented. In such families, ‘parents encouraged the curiosity of the children at an early age and answered their questions with great care’.
The Multiplier Effect: Letting Our Children Fly
The author believes that children become even more motivated when they do well, citing the multiplier effect. ‘As they began to receive recognition for the talent in the early years of instruction, the children’s investment in the talent becomes greater. No longer was the prime motivation to please parents and teachers. It now became the individual’s special field of interest’.
In a nutshell, the takeaway for parents and educators from this book are these pointers – encourage your children and students to pursue their passions. Encourage them to put in long and consistent hours so that they can be really good in what they love doing. Once they improve and feel good about themselves, they will be even more motivated to do better.