Sunday, July 26, 2009

Talent is overrated, the sweat counts - UChannel

What separates top performers from everybody else? Geoff Colvin lectures at the RSA on a UChannel podcast. Colvin studied the top performers in a wide variety of areas like sports, music and business and checked how talent, hard work, intelligence and parents contributed to the various success stories that can be found.

We tend to attribute excellence to talent and Colvin is here to kill that myth. Raw intelligence can be found plentiful among top chess players, but there are great achievers of mediocre intelligence and great intellects with disappointing game records. Musical talent helps, but some prodigies do not make it to great performers and some of the great performers were thought to be of average talent when they were still learning. Great businessmen, academicians and so on show the same record.

Covin goes to show that excellence comes from hard study. From hours and hours of effective practice, where the effort is to push the limits. This is a tough conclusion for all us average people out there in the middle of life: we could have accomplished our high aims, had we spent more time and effort on practice. It also puts a burden on educators and parents: you will have to grab those kids at early ages and let them spend their time on carefully chosen activities. But I found Covin missed one psychological point. It seems those top performers had a talent, or maybe a restriction even, to focus on but one thing. Reaching the top, anywhere in life, I think, takes a kind of monomaniac determination. That possibly is neither talent nor effort; that is choice.

More UChannel Podcast:
Ronald Reagan, a rebel,
Disasters and Peace,
Enclosing the commons of the mind,
Middle East challenges,
Good climate for everyone (global warming).