Natural Talent is a Myth

The idea of natural talent is a myth. The belief that someone is born more able to achieve sporting prowess, musical or artistic achievement is just not true.

When reading this many of you will instantly want to protest the likes of Mozart who was creating musical masterpieces by the age of 11. Yet did you know that his father, a performer and instructor himself, put him through an intensive programme in musical composition and performing from three years of age? By the time he had created his first masterpiece at 21 he had 18 years of very hard and expert training behind him.

There are many examples in the fields of sport and the arts that back this up. Research your favourites and you will find a different story to what you may believe; instead of this natural talent you will find a mix of motivation, hard work, perseverance, possible guided coaching and an element of opportunities in their environment.

The Natural Talent Myth and You

How do you feel about a world where natural talent doesn’t exist? Exposing this myth creates a world where you can do almost anything, bearing in mind some limitations. It is empowering as a whole new world of possibilities are put at your feet, but also scary as you have to take more responsibility for what you can achieve.

So many people try things, find the going a little tough and then give up. You watch top class performers excel and think to yourself that you could never do that; they were born with an innate ability. Knowing this is not true and these people have just persevered, putting in hours of relentless training, pain and effort. They have reflected on their performance and sought to improve their game, constantly striving to be better.

This means that the responsibility for success now rests with you. Are you willing to put in the time and effort and try? Instead of losing confidence in your ability to succeed you can shift your thoughts to think how far you have come and how far you can take yourself if you want to.

Of course there are some limitations to how far you can take yourself – your age and health may impact physical achievements, your time may be limited due to other commitments, you don’t have access to the right experts, but the real empowering thought is that you can decide what your goal will be as you do not need ‘natural talent’ to aspire to anything. Reality means that you may never win an Olympic gold medal but you can still work hard to run that local marathon, even if it is not until two or even three years time.

If you would like to read more about this, Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice  is a very well researched and easy read by Matthew Syed.

Please feel free to comment or leave your thoughts.