Talent vs. Hard Work

by Jin, 11-13-08 // 57 comments

I am currently reading Serious Creativity by Edward De Bono. It’s a great book by the way, I’ll write a review once I’m done reading it. In one chapter on misperceptions about creativity, Bono wrote:

CREATIVITY IS A NATURAL TALENT AND CANNOT BE TAUGHT

This misperception is actually very convenient because it relieves everybody of the need to do anything about fostering creativity. If it is only available as a natural talent then there is no point in seeking to do anything about creativity.

[...]

That some people are naturally creative does not mean that such people would not be even more creative with some training and techniques. Nor does it mean that other people can never become creative.

Natural talent vs. hard work is a topic that has been debated by people of all professions throughout history. It’s also known as Nature vs Nurture, the difference between one’s innate ability vs. ability affected by personal experiences.

The term “talented’ or “gifted” is often mentioned in the artistic field. The achievements of artists, both in fine art and performing art are more obvious and visible. I have yet to find the reason why people have the need for such debate or self-awareness. Perhaps for some, it’s to gain self assurance, while for others it is to be hopeful.

I read a lot fables as a kid. Many of them touched upon this topic. For example, the race between the rabbit and the turtle. As a fan of the anime Naruto in recent years, my favorite character is Rock Lee (pictured above). He has no natural talent that other ninja students posses, but he makes up for it with his tenacity.

But fictions are fictions, they teach us the moral of being humble and diligent. Reading Bono’s excerpt, I can’t help but to consciously wonder if there’s such a thing as natural talent, especially when it comes to creativity. Last year I read an interesting and passionate discussion regarding this topic on Conceptart.org, and supporters of both sides raised some good points.

Here’s my opinion on natural talent vs. hard work: (P.S. as redundant as it may be, I’d like to point out this is just my opinion. Agree or disagree, that’s what the comment section is for).

Of course there’s natural talent, it’s not a myth. My statement comes from the achievements of people like Mozart , Michelangelo, Einstein, Michael Jordan etc. and my association with some very smart people in real life. I believe some people have more natural aptitude than others in certain areas. This is what I call natural talent.

However, the verdict of someone being naturally talented is often skewed. For example, when we see a fine piece of art or music, we often conclude that the artist must be really gifted. We come to this conclusion because we’re judging the end result – the art work itself. We tend to forget about the process and the journey of getting there. The artist may have been practicing for many years to get to that point. In which case hard work plays a huge role, regardless of whether he/she is naturally gifted or not.

In many discussions I’ve seen, talent and hard work are often talked about in a dichotomical way. E.g., Gifted people are perceived as complacent and lazy; while non-gifted people work harder to make up for it. In reality, talent can only carry you so far, the rest is hard work. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I also believe tenacity itself is a form of natural talent. It’s not something everyone is capable of. Being able to work hard towards a goal, consistently, despite hardship, is a gift. It’s easy to judge talent by a painting, photo, music score or fanbase because they’re more conceivable.

Another factor that’s often ignored in such discussions is Passion. Passion makes us strive for excellence. Talent + hard work + passion is a winning formula for success.

My views are formed based on my personal experiences, I’d love to hear yours.

57 comments

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Anna 11-13-08

I am also a huge fan of Naruto, and it really does showcase how far one can get with hard work and no talent.
How does this apply in real life? I feel that I have little to no natural talent in the variety of fields I have interest in. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that, because it seems I am surrounded by people who exhibit talent in some form or another. My dad has a fantastic mind, and can understand theoretical math and science better than anyone else I know. My best friend is fantastic at a variety of arts, and she also has the tenacity you mentioned. She decided in college she wanted to be a video game artist, and she is! My husband seems to be gifted at practically everything he tries from video games, to art and photography to writing, I can’t think of a single thing that he can’t do if he decides he wants to.

But, I digress… If I have no talent, and am not really a fan of hard work, where do I stand? Am I destined to live a life of mediocrity?

I suppose I have chosen to be a support person for all the people in my life that I care about. In that, I feel that I do have some talent. Maybe that is one area you forgot to mention, the people who stand behind and beside those with talent, pushing them to move forward when they falter. Supporting them even when things aren’t going well, and stepping back from the spotlight when they achieve their dreams.

Rob 11-13-08

My general theory is that anything involving creativity is natural, logic is learned. For example, you can be a naturally talented designer, you cannot be a naturally talented programmer. Anyone can learn to program and think programatically. No one can learn to be an artist. You can learn “tricks of the trade” and go off of inspiration, but you cant learn to come up with artistic ideas if you dont have a naturally strong artistic side.

Physical things, such as Michael Jordan as you used as an example are probably also less likely to be natural. Anyone can learn and train and then be able to run fast and jump high.

Theory of course.

Ben Good 11-13-08

Naruto = Awesome

Natural talent with hard work will produce genius and usually the sky is the limit for a naturally-talented, hard-worker.

A hard worker who has no talent, however, can only reach a certain level in an area that they have no natural affinity in…

Just my two cents. By the way, good post. Keep it up!

kaske 11-14-08

@Rob
not true. You cannot jump like Michael Jordan also because his *body* is different then yours (“physical” talent), even if you train for 1000 years.

Chris 11-14-08

Agreed. Naruto = Fun to watch. When he wins, it’s usually good.

Artists are different, it’s hard to judge. There will always be people better than you (esp those English people – drinkers, womanizers, fighters, and now artists too)

Live for yourself enjoy what you will. If you like supporting that’s fine, one day you might feel like smacking your husband which may also be fine ;)

Janko 11-14-08

I would agree with you. As an amature painter I completely understand how important are both talent and hard work :)

Rob 11-14-08

@kaske well yeah of course your right about that. i wasn’t saying that as a definitive answer. obviously the longer your legs/torso/arms are will add variables to what you get out of training. but with training you could be equally skilled as compared to your body style.

as an example, michael jordan reached the highest level his body would allow, you could do the same if you wanted.

so you do have a valid point, but i still dont think that’s reason to believe that physical skill is a natural talent. i still think it’s learned talent.

Jin 11-14-08

Thank you all for your thoughts, much appreciated.

One may wonder, what’s the point of even talking about natural talent vs hard work. I wondered about that too. After all, if we’re looking at the end result (say certain achievement level), it seems hard work alone can get to that point.

One real life application I can think of: if you’re in a managerial type of position, it’d be good to identify your team’s strengths and weakness therefore you can delegate more efficiently. Certain people are fast learners, or have an talent for certain area of the project.

Thanks.

Steven Clark 11-14-08

OK I’m a Porco Rosso fan from way back…

But that aside. You may get a lot out of reading The New Yorker article from October 20 titled Late Bloomers. It discusses the difference between someone like Picasso who was born with talent and Cezanne who couldn’t even draw well until he was at least 30 and wasn’t discovered until his late 50′s. Cezanne simply had a passion and worked hard…

The major part of the story is about a writer named Ben Fountain who was said to burst onto the writing scene… which was untrue, he had written for 20 years…

I taught graphic design students to code XHTML and CSS for a while and found many of them copped back to a stance of being visual people, it was too hard. They tended to find that as a good reason not to expect themselves to achieve in other areas. My personal take is that regardless of talent (it’s a pet peeve actually) we get good at the things we do. And we do the things we get acknowledgement for. So designers need to learn about coders and coders need to pick up a few design books and get a pencil and sketchobook, or contes or something.

I think it’s good to discuss the natural talent versus hard work thing because otherwise those without natural talent – the Cezannes – don’t get the opportunity to blossom. The article Late Bloomers asks – what if Cezanne had a high school career counsellor? How many of our children are being dumbed down to not follow their passion due to our obsession that talent must be present.

Steven Clark 11-14-08

Ah the article mentioned that Cezanne also had an experimental methodology to his learning, which takes time. A natural talent might peak young like a Picasso, but a life of experimental refinement of skills can also make a master… :)

gary 11-15-08

having natural talent means u’r already half the race ahead.. but it doesnt mean winning the race.. hardwork, craftiness, dedication – the intangibles.. those are, i think, what will really win the race, with or without talent..

at the end of the day, i guess, only time will tell..

Tommie Hansen 11-15-08

In my book passions equals talent in some way. If you got passion, you’ll be great. If not, you simply won’t.

Is that hard work or talent? Who cares? It’s the end we’re after, the means can be whatever suits the person. What should be discussed is how different techniques works for different people since that is far more important when achieving ones goals.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Natural talent comes from the resources available for human, but that often would be underdeveloped . every human have various resources, such as physical ability, extent of emotions, imaginations…. but the environmental resources that shape up that talent into artistic form.

a kid with a physical ability raised to depend on his family, might not develop a talent in basketball because he misses the practicing.

I think it is really hard to say whether a person has a natural talent or someone who work hard. it is probably both at least in most cases .

[...] regularly crops up among designers, photographers and artists. Jin over on 8164.org is asking about talent versus hard work and whether natural talent exists? My take on that question is to suggest there is no doubt the [...]

Jin 11-16-08

@Steven, Gary, Tommie and US, thank you very much for the comments.

As for why natural talent matters? If we’re talking about achievement a goal, I don’t think it does matter, but not too much. As many commented, hard work and passion will get you there too.

Another reason I brought up this topic: raising three young kids, I can already see them showing strong talent in certain areas, even without me exposing or influencing them. My eldest is very creative when it comes to constructing things. He has a very keen sense of geometry and aesthetics when it comes to objects. My second son is very good at sports. While my youngest loves art and music. They were raised in the same environment, exposed to the same things.

What do I do as a parent? Naturally, I think I *should* encourage them in the areas they excel and have strong interests in. (that’s what I started doing). However, I wonder if there are other things they could be good at, but simply haven’t experienced yet.

Thanks!

I think that natural talent needs to be nurtured and cultivated. For me writing has always been easy and up until the advent of the internet I was not good with computers.

What did I do to cultivate my writing skills? I read everything I could get my hands on about being a writer, I wrote in my spare time and well just read everything I could get my hands on author wise in the genre I was interested in. I paid attention to their writing styles, mannerisms, how they developed their story.

It wasn’t as easy with digital design I had no clue where to start and who to follow or what was wrong and righte in copyright infringement. I seriously learned through trial and error on that.

So for me writing came easy and was fun as well as comforting, offering me solace in rough times. Later in life as a late bloomer digital design became an additional source of comfort. I do relate to the late bloomer with respect to digital design. I didn’t get good at it until just last year.

Steven Clark 11-17-08

We’re in a similar position Jin with our youngest, she is 13 and a very talented young artist / designer / photographer. Basically if she feels creative we support it as much as possible with easels and paper and opportunities to expand. But ultimately she wants to be a marine biologist, which doesn’t mean she won’t be a scientist with a passion for painting or photography.

And nowdays careers don’t necessarily last a lifetime. I think if you support them to be who they want to be, and keep the communication channels open, then you can’t go too much wrong. In the end they’ll make their own choices about life.

Kim H 11-18-08

“The two are not mutually exclusive.”

I strongly agree.

Hard work is nothing without the aptitude to achieve a skill, and yet skill does not come from sitting around and not working hard.

I am sure that even Mozart had difficulty with the piano when he was starting out. I often tell people that if they are going to do a job, they must play as hard as the rest of the people in the field, and always work toward improving. There is always room for improvement, whether in design or in any other field – no one person is perfect, but we must always work hard in order to become better at what we do. And in the ever-changing field of web development and design, this is significant because what is the bleeding edge one day will always shift to a common concept, and the edge will always move to another new thing.

And here again, passion. I do believe I made a post a while back in my blog about the driving force behind good design – passion. But could passion ultimately be the key to “natural” talent? After all, a person is more prone to pursue a subject which they are interested in, and thus hone themselves to know much about it – it may or may not, in the end, be perceived as hard work. A mentor of mine once told me that I should pursue something I am passionate about – not for money, not just because I liked it, but because by enjoying what I did, I would be more prone to invest more time into that subject, and similar to a hobby, rather than investing what feels like a great amount of work I would only put in (or at least perceive myself putting in) a small amount of effort.

Jin 11-19-08

@Joe, Steven and Kim: thank you for your comments!

I think passion definitely plays a huge role. We may be interested in different things in the course of our lives. But I think we all have that one thing we tend to stick with, or going back to. That’s passion there.

James 11-21-08

I am skeptical about “natural talent”. I have never seen a person described as a “natural” who didn’t work very hard or had an insatiable passion for their art (whether that be engineering or painting or music or sports).

That said, I’ve never met a Mozart or a Jordon.

I have worked with a lot of brilliant physicists and computer scientists. Some of them internationally recognized for their contributions. All of them became “brilliant” through hard work and had a deep passion for their fields. That, perhaps, is nature or nutured at such a young age that it may as well be nature.

kaske 11-21-08

There is a person that has a natural tendency to write with a left hand. Why? Because it has a *left hand talent*. It’s simply obvious and nobody can deny that – there are people with predispositions. Accept that. Accepting that is not a talent. It’s an observation. It’s an ability. A talent is something completely out of our wish, out of our control. It has been *given* to us. By whom? I don’t know. It doesn’t mean that our talent is our passion. Our passion shouldn’t suffer from our talent. Our passion is what drives us to do something. Our talent is an extraordinary tool, if needed. There are many people with talent that they have never wished for. Life is still mysterious. Wonderful topic. Thank you Author.

jade 11-27-08

To me, talent is on the left, and hard work is on the right. When one is able to combine the two, it’s pure genius because the limbs are coordinated cooperatively to move the body. Ok, so now I’m going to show my “point of view”. I believe that God created us beautifully this way and so very complex. The word intricate describes to me what can only be carefully planned creative unleashing. How glorious the outcome! So, in summary I’m saying that greatness is found in the blending of both creativity and hard work. It has a presence one can’t deny.

Duane 01-03-09

Guys, I heard that Michael Jordan is not that talented, he gained his skill through hard work. He was even rejected on his highschool basketball team but after that he practiced so hard. I’ve watched that on his Above and Beyond film.

Wasim Bhalli 02-23-09

If any person has natural abilities, then that is a plus point for him. But I believe that with hard work you can achieve anything.

chris 04-23-09

as an advent fan of naruto I was very happy to see rock lee as your spokesperson. In fact I ma in the process of laving my nine to five job and relying soey on the money I make as a freelancer. It is funny because early naruto is what made me want to chase after my dreams without giving up.

J. McCartney. 07-13-09

I agree with Jin. Often people do associate doing something well with having natural talent. I practice archery in my spare time and I do fairly descent. Some people say that I have a ‘natural talent’ to be able to shoot a bow well. I disagree. Sure it takes some traits to be able to shoot well early on, but when one practices, they can gain or sharpen these traits and still become good at a given task. I had to work hard and practice many years to shoot bows, and I don’t say it’s a natural talent, I say it would be a talent that I have earned.

Not Relevant 07-16-09

Sigh… This culture is obsessed with trying to make everybody ‘feel better’ about themselves. Nobody can be exceptional, right? That would make the unexceptional people feel bad. If we see something truly amazing, we have to find some way to alleviate our jealousy/insecurity/inadequacy… so we reduce it to, ‘well they just worked really hard at it for a long time.’ What about all the people who work ‘really hard’ at something and still suck at it years later? You don’t hear about them in these stupid arguments. To their credit, some of them do get beyond ‘suck’ and actually reach mediocrity.

And what about the people who manage to put in minimal practice time but yet show FAR more brilliance at their craft than some people who’ve been doing it for decades longer and/or for many more hours a day? Hmmm…

Going by what many of you say, then any human being alive right now -given the hours of practice- could be better than Tiger Woods at golf, a better composer than Mozart, a better artist than Picasso or Michelangelo, a better writer than Shakespeare, a better thinker and physicist than Einstein, etc.

Wow, just pick ANYTHING and practice really, really hard… and you’ll reach genius-level skill! Hmmm… I’ll bet there’s NEVER been ANYONE who’s put in LOTS AND LOTS of hours to get really good at something (yeah right)- and why do most of them never manage to achieve anything CLOSE to that level of brilliance?

Don’t even tell me that the handful of true geniuses and masters recognized throughout our history were the ONLY PEOPLE who put in many hours of practice and study. You just don’t think about (nor hear about) THOSE people… do you? And why would you?

And why is it that a child can come from a musical household, be totally immersed in it from infancy, and still turn out to be completely tone deaf and lacking in any real musical competency or aptitude? And why is it that another person can come from a totally non-musical household, not stumble upon music until their late teens, and then show prodigal skill on a certain instrument? Hmmm…

Face it, most people are just ordinary. Gifted people should be celebrated. As someone said earlier, if some people have an aptitude for writing with their left hand, then why couldn’t another person’s brain be programmed with a significant aptitude for music, art, literature, physics, mathematics, etc.?

So quit crying over the fact that you don’t feel special, and quit trying to make yourself feel better by rambling on and trying to ‘explain away’ the fact that there IS real talent and GENIUS out there… you probably just don’t possess it.

Every person is NOT just like everyone else. Grow up and face it. You’re all just trying to hide behind your big grown-up words and ability to commiserate with others, to babble and to pathetically argue away your insecurity and shortcomings.

It’s all just the ‘adult’ version of-

BILLY: “Mommy, I’m just as smart as Bobby, right?”
MOMMY: “Yes sweetie, you’re just as smart as Bobby.”
BILLY: “Bobby, my mommy says I’m just as smart as YOU. So THERE.”
BOBBY: “Then why do you get F’s on your report card even though you have a tutor twice a week and your daddy is a college professor? And why are you eleven years old and still in second grade?”
BILLY: “I could make good grades if I wanted to. And my mommy says I’m just as smart as you. So THERE.”

kaske 07-16-09

@Not Relevant – I agree 99% with you, HOWEVER you shouldn’t neglect the POSSIBILITY that the average person through hard work reaches a high level in what he does. There are visible but there are also HIDDEN talents which might show themselves only after some time of hard work. It may be 1.3% possibility, but nevertheless, in a sea of different combinations even THAT is possible. You can deny the probability, but not possibility.

If I “become” a genius, even after 60 years of “just” working hard – it’s still accomplished, and in these cases time loses its importance. Once you’re there, you’re there.

Neelabh 08-21-09

you have written this article rather well. my opinions are my own so they are subjected to criticism. from personal experience i have found that everyone has a set of abilities that come together to make a natural talent. like if i have the ability to perceive colour strokes and abstract representation i will have a talent for art. the thing is i’ve noticed people work really hard and yet unable to compete with those who have natural talent. the thing about rock lee was that he was god it’s true but it seems highly unlikely that someone as normal as you and me could ever be that good otherwise you’d have rock lees walking around on the streets. anyway i have a natural talent for art and compared to my other friends in class i catch perception and representation almost instantly whle they have continously work hard for it for weeks and are unable to achieve the same level as me. and it’s not limited to arts people can also have a natural talent for maths and physics and they will inevitebly do better that people who don’t. the thing is that hard work will only take you so far while with talent you can learn it yourself through trial and error. a person who has no natural talent in art will learn to extract inspiration and will need to be guided. a person with talent will automatically be able gain inspiration and with passion will be able learn how to represent it on paper perfecting himself because he can never be as good as his insiration, thus creating an engine to drive him to perfection.

Myron 09-21-09

I am asking myself does natural talent exist? Ore is it all that brought you too now that creates how your perceive things and recreate them. What man call talent is always the beauty of the creation relative to the patterns that are currently in the average brain. So does it really exist ore is talent an opinion and is everyone talented in his own personal special way.

Dat Nguyen 11-07-09

thanks for posting this
this argument has been stuck in my head for 5 years since i realized my friend’s talent. He is like a genius, he won many international rewards, he beat me in every single category: music, art, maths, science, English, sport, social skills.
Ever since then, i think my jealousy had made the friendship bad. But i always think about it: Talented people were born with a gifted brain, body; i, was given nothing |: ; am i wasting my time trying to beat him?
I love Naruto too, but it’s sad that: Rock Lee, he did work hard, but now, compare to Sasuke who is an Akasuki, there is no contest.

tom 11-11-09

I am a pianist. It has taken me 45 years of study and practice to reach the professional standard that a young prodigy would reach in their early teens.

But it doesn’t matter, because I got there in the end.

Vincent 11-21-09

Okay I think you all went slighty away from the objective of this discussion.

Now…Talent is not *Learned*…..You were just born with it. Eg.(Not theoretical)

“two 10 year old children are given a test on a subject they have never been taught, Both pay full attention and are interested in the subject. Of course one is vastly quicker at understanding than the other”

As this is a every 30 seconds of life occurrence(Which is a theoretical guess) that is undeniable, where doe’s this leave hard work you may ask?. It leave’s it sadly behind someone with talent, as even if the fast child stoped and messed around for awhile they may still be ahead or even with an un-talented hopeful.

Of course talented people have a tendancy to slack off a bit to much, as it is common for a talented person to get into the habit of feeling like a “Teacher’s pet” and slowing down to avoid the stigma or they just are not that interested(Like any other human being).

I see from being on both sides of this conundrum, As in my computer career I am considered talanted as in compared to other IT nerd’s. Yet at creative writing and history kind of stuff, I would be left looking like a douche bag that is clinically retarded. *But that’s not saying if I were interested in it would I not be any good at it*.

Hope the perspective helps.

Chen 11-23-09

Very well written.

scottie 02-12-10

Scientific research seems to support the idea that “natural” talent is way over stated. The anecdotal evidence that people have been citing doesn’t account for early, related experiences. Sure two kids will perform differently on a new task but what related prior experience have each had. Even Mozart is debatable (Hayes 1985; Thinking and Learning Skills; Research and Open Questions) (Please see Howe, Davidson and Sloboda 1998 Behavioral and Brain Sciences).

David Foo 03-11-10

I think its very true. That if one has talent but has no hard work then the talent is pretty useless. You need to continuously work at your talent.

CC Running 04-04-10

Thank you so much. I agree, 1000% If it exists, it does, but it’s also true that only some can really work hard. And that’s another thing all together. It’s hard to do work hard, to be persistent; a perfect example is in long distance running. You have to work hard, you aren’t just GOOD.

id 08-10-10

Nice article, browsed a few comments and looking in a different perspective.

Talent and Hardwork are both mind set standards of a person. Since one is comparing self to different individuals or 2 different individuals. But for the individual in question(be it talented one or hardworking). He/She will try and picture out someone to compare with and from there assess if what he has done is from hardwork or from his talents…

On another point of view it will go down in how a person tackles the same problem.

Faye 10-27-10

You say you want us to give you our opinions, so I will. Well, in my opinion, everybody has a talent at something. Either if it’s to do with something negative, it’s considered a talent. And actually, if you look at it this way, skill is a natural talent. B/c, it’s takes natural talent to learn talent. So let’s see, how about “Natural Talent vs Talent”. Skill can actually be a natural or just a talent you learn. Thinking is a natural talent. Actually, if you think about, natural talent is something your born with. Actually everybody has to solve something until they eventually know what the certain term/problem means. I mean, I know I’m not a genius & I may be confusing you, but you would understand me better if you were hearing me talking about this. Self taught is not a natural talent. You don’t automatically know how to do it, unless you teach yourself, or if someone else is teaching you. But, if you looking at this way, too. Like singing for instance, you can automatically know how to sing or learn how to sing. Actually, there’s 2 ways of what natural talent is. Either it’s something you’re born with, like you’re senses, or something you automatically you know how to do. I’m sorry if I’m confusing you, but I know what I’m talking about & you would too if you were hearing & seeing me explain it.

Patrick 06-02-11

The opinion you gave is one that i believe to be the most accurate. i am a piano major, and i have come up with several compositions. and i am also here to say that i did not get it by just sitting on my duff, going “la da te to de” and then magically come up with a composition. I had to play around, figure out what made sense, take music theory classes to understand why that sounded good, and then to figure out how to make good voice leading so that if i wanted to put text to it, it could be sung easily. Either way, talent is only a small portion of this, where the hard work and dedication fill in the rest.

Mr. Thrasher 01-26-12

Alright. This is the sick sad truth. If you are not gifted in an area, you will never be as good as someone who is. Period. This applies to many things. Look at beautiful people. Some of them don’t have to do ANYTHING for that six pack, or that hour glass figure and great skin. Yet they have it. Others will diet. Change their life styles. But all the most expensive products and study their skin to make it shine. It may improve their looks some, that’s for sure. But they will NEVER be as on par as the person who is a natural. All it takes is some mild effort from the natural at best, to out do the person who busted their ass to get where they are. Just a fact of life. Sorry.

Mr. Thrasher 01-26-12

Whats worse is I am not one of those naturally gifted people. I may have some talent with ka-ra-tay. Lol. But that’s it. The thing is as you put. Some people have the tenacity to drive themselves forward. I don’t have that. I don’t expect things to be handed to me. I just have a frustrating belief. I don’t think I will always have a life of mediocrity but so far my life HAS been that. I wanted to get into the MMA circuit. I wanted to make game designs. I wanted this and that. But I never had the gumption to go through all the bs to get it. I have never believed in the whole “don’t you feel better now that you have earned it?” No…I don’t. I wonder why I had to jump through all of those hoops instead of you doing the simple task of handing it to me. Especially if it’s no skin off your nose. I do encourage those who believe in striving hard to do so. But I don’t think they will ever out do a natural.

Mr. Thrasher 01-26-12

Last one, I promise. I don’t know about most people but I have almost never felt a “joy” from an accomplishment. Which leads towards my notion.

JustMe 04-17-12

Hi,

I have spend the last few years thinking and researching on this topic – talent vs. hard work. I have ONLY come across articles which – similar to this one – emphasize on hard work and somewhat down playing the role of talent. Almost all articles end in the fashion as this one – that talent alone is not enough and that only talent and work brings results. However what I am interested in is if hard work ALONE is enough! Also what about talent + some work VERSUS only hard work? In my opinion a talented person with some work can achive more than someone with no talent and plenty of hard work. What happens when a talented person puts in a lot of hard work and all you have to offer is JUST hard work? From my experience the following is true:
John is Talented
Mary is not Talanted
1. Lazy John vs. Little Work Efforts by Mary = John Wins
2. Lazy John vs Medium Work Efforts by Mary = Probably similar results
3. Lazy John vs Epic Work Efforts by Mary = Mary wins
4. Little Work Efforts by John vs. Little Work Efforts by Mary = John Wins
5. Medium Work Efforts by John vs. Medium Work Efforts by Mary = John Wins
6. Epic Work Efforts by John vs. Epic Work Efforts by Marry= John wins

What nobody dares to say is that hard ONLY triumphs if talent does nothing or very little!

It seems to be a popular assumption that there are many talanted people who do nothing with their lives and this is used as an example of how unimportant talent is. Sure, there are people like that. However ussually talented people ARE also driven to excel and compeled to do something with their talent. Do you think succesfull people – for example – working in profitable hedge funds, goldman sachs or on the fore front of science are just hard working? No, their first and fore most talented and then hard working. Hard work – ussualy Epic Hard work – can you only get you to a point (a point you will probably not be happy with) and then you will need to have talent to go further to where it actually matters!

JustMe 04-17-12
V. 05-09-12

I know that talent exists from personal experience, but I cannot prove it to anyone else empirically; I must rely on subjective agreement.

A few weeks ago a fellow student was playing the piano after Music Theory class and when told that he was talented he said he did not believe in talent, only hard work. I found this an interesting statement due to my observation of his playing technique, which was technically above average but seemed to lack inflective aspects (i.e. the transference of subtle emotional characteristics to the expression of sounds). I believe that he was mimicking inflection he had heard rather than displaying it. He also only played music from other composers rather than his own compositions.

In my experience with music I’ve known technically talented people who either are not particularly creative or not particularly inflective or other combinations with more and less of the three (technical/creative/inflective). It is also my experience that there are people with physical (as in the body) attributes which seem impressive and people with mental aspects (as in ‘mind’) which seem impressive, but rarely both. [I am not referring to attractiveness vs. intellect but rather physical fitness vs. intellectualism].

I believe that both nature and nurture are important aspects in what makes a personality what it is. I also think that there is a wealth of diversity concerning what attributes and abilities people are born with (or born with the potential to actualize) and which they learn (or are capable of learning).

I took my first art class recently and painted my first picture. The work was not technically impressive as I have almost no technical knowledge in painting, but the piece was still selected for an art show in which the works of many technically talented people were on display. Barring a judge with a generous heart or ‘bad taste’ in aesthetics I think that it was talent alone which enabled my work to be chosen.

I firmly believe that we are born with talents and that such things cannot be learned, only imitated. Skills can be learned but, again, I think some people are born with more potential for learning certain skills than others. Of course talent can only be made more impressive with the application of technical learning or ‘hard work’.

It is pleasant to believe that anyone can produce skills and develop abilities in any area but I see no evidence that this true and much evidence to the contrary. Of course I may be completely wrong, but If I am it is one hell of an illusion.

Cheers and Godspeed,

V.

Edward 06-25-12

On the contrary, Micheal Jordan spent most of his free time way back since middle school playing basketball. in high school he was always the first at the gym and the last to reach. Einstein failed high school maths! Mozart was into music since an early age and was constantly at it throughout his life. Every exceptional individual in ANY field made it there by practising tenaciously the right way for years. If there was sch a thing as talent, it just means a person is faster at learning in a particular field. If height was so much a factor in jumping ability, why is it that the best jumper rarely the tallest person? Even in the NBA, the best blockers aren’t always the tallest either

Anonymous 09-27-12

If Jordan had natural talent how come at one point he was worse than others? he was cut from highschool, and that gave him the drive to become the best. His hardwork gave him the talent and practicing tenaciously allowed him to become better than everybody. I believe that what some believe is natural talent is really self belief. If one believes that they will be good most times they will be good at first. But to become the best one needs to have a desire to become the best and an attitude to follow. Hardwork becomes talent.

Anonymous 10-20-12

I think about talent like a difficulty setting in a videogame. For example people with talent play the game on easy, people without talent play the game on medium. In the end they both have the chance to beat the game, it was just that the other person had it easier thats all. They are both capable of beating the last boss, the obstacles in it, and gain the same achievements. If it sounds stupid sorry but thats how i think of it

Anonymous 11-14-12

Just like how Talent can only get you so far without the effort and passion… the limitations of simply hard work and passion is almost negligible compared to just talent. No talent and hard work loses to talent and hardwork. Simply put, in whatever instance, the benefits of having talent is invaluable AS LONG as they know hard work and their passion for what their talents are.

Talentful boy 01-24-13

Talent is definitly overrated if it exists at all. I work as a music teacher, musician and composer. I’m quite good, and I’ve worked deliberatly through my whole life. Now when I’m teaching a lot I see my students not as talented or untalented, but if I can together with them find their passion! Make them work effortless, many hours a week on something they find valuable – everyone of them have a huge progress. If they also feed themselves with the right kind of impressions – such as going to a lot of concerts, studying every side of the profession they want to become good in, set goals and work towards their goal – they will be great.

And: the reasons why people don’t become supergreat are many, such as: they chose the 5th most right profession for themselves.” Yes, I could become a good doctor, but if I would follow my heart, I would rather work hard to become an actor.”

Mozart was not a superchild. Just study his circumstances, grew up in the right enviroment with a very supportive father, playing music all the time etc. There are millions of mozarts out there when it comes to abilities, but it takes years and years of dedication to achieve what he did. Not many are willing to pay that price, but if you do you can become that good too!

To say that crativity cannot be taught is just bullshit! – by the way :)

ge 02-17-13

I believe that creativity, given it’s genetic and environmental components is born out of the deepest recesses of one’s mind; some times for psychological survival. In a sense one breaks from reality and is able to use a part of their mind that one may never had to use before. There are a significant number of severely mentally individuals who are great artists.

Anonymous 03-06-13

I don’t think tenacity is natural, it is caused from how you are brought up. Things like how you’re parents raise you, and maybe if you’re rich or poor will change you.

Anonymous 04-14-13

i belive its you draw it once yuou can draw it 30 times better.

dbz 04-14-13

no its hard work and practice

cats 04-14-13

I have nartual drawing tlanet its like this you already know the bascis but know more with tlanet

matthewtnguyen 04-01-14

There’s this great book called ‘Talent is Overrated’. You should check it out! It’s pretty cheap on Amazon and talks a lot about what talent really is and where it comes from!

Studies show that our skills aren’t generated from a ‘natural’ gift that we’re born with. Success/greatness is generated from hard work…but more specifically, hard work in a very disciplined way. The author describes it as ‘deliberate practice’ & goes into detail what this is. How an individual was raised & brought up can also have a significant impact.

I do believe that ‘sometimes’ people start off smarter than others, but with hard work & mental practice, everyone can achieve greatness & is not limited as they think. The thought that some people are simply ‘talented’ and others aren’t have shaped our culture in such a way that people simply give up on what they love to do. That said, this doesn’t apply to physical capability. There is no way in hell, me, a 5’9 can become a player in the NBA at the Center position. It’s just impossible.

The books goes into depth about people like Mozart & Tiger Woods, who appear like prodigies…but are they really? Mozart, was taught directly one on one by his father at the age of 2. His father was an expert in the field, and revised & edited all of Mozart’s work before it was released. By the time Mozart was 20, he already had 18 years of 1 on 1 instruction by a professional musician. In that sense, is he really a prodigy, or did he simply have way more training time? By the time he was 20, he already had double the training of what a 30 year old in the profession had.

This also applies to Tiger woods in a very similar sense. I could go on about this… but I highly recommend reading Talent is ‘Overrated’!