Do you think you are talented?
It has been an ongoing discussion about the source of “talent”. It has been a long myth that geniuses are born (and are a bit crazy- “there is a thin line between genius and idiot”, the saying goes). Research does NOT confirm that. The story is so attractive that it has become a go-to myth so we can excuse our own lack of effort and giving up on our aspiration. The fact is, and it is backed by research, that talent, or genius is a result of 50-50 genetics and effort over long period of time. Even 50-50 is a symbol for “not actually knowing which is more important-and actually both influence in an unpredictable way”.
Talent is not the same as performance
In sports, it has been common to evaluate an athlete from the physical ability. the stronger, faster, technical you are, the better (depending on sport, of course). We rate the talent by medals, that the athlete is better than the other person next to her/him. What we do not see is that sometimes a “win” comes with very little effort and actually can be athlete’s worse result, just because the competition was not really there. That is not using your talent. Sometimes you can put all in, do your best result and still lose. The media will be on to you and you will feel like a failure. But you just did your best result! After a season of stable growth. Many fall out after this kind of losses, because they, though have the talent, have not been trained on psychological skills, nor they do not make the difference between talent and performance.
Why psychological skills are key to unleashing talent
But what is so obvious is the psychological skills that athletes need to actually manage the physical workload, constant “failure” (because only one can win a medal), and organize different parts of an athlete life (family, friends, sponsors, media, coaches, career outside sports). If you are not an athlete but an expert of another field, I am sure you have the same issues, especially when you are a top level scientist, CEO, musician, or any other professional. If we really want to fulfill our potential, it is a long-game, not one-time-win. To keep sane, motivated and realize your skills, you need mental ability, psychological skills starting from goal setting, skill evaluation, planning to imagery, self talk, motivation, attention direction and stress management to implement your “physical” skills (or intellectual). But we are rarely taught these in school or even at home so we start to believe that “talent is born”, because we don’t have the stamina to work and practice and be consistent to see our talent develop into a “win” of the constant progression in our expertise. Believing that “talents are born” gives us a escape route. Knowing, that talent is developed means that now you have to start training and working really hard. Are you ready for it?
Adopt a new mindset: Talent is developed.
I know it can be scary to know that you actually have all it takes to create high performance. Because it takes work and the results are not guaranteed. But on the positive side, you can work on you, you can choose to work on something you feel naturally drawn to and I can promise you, if you start practicing what you love, you can get better. Much better. Along with that, feeling of pride, accomplishment, drive, motivation will come. Even in the face of failures that will also come, you will feel challenged, eager to learn skills to make you resilient and see options instead of failures.
So if I’d tell you that YOU ARE TRULY TALENTED, what would you like to develop in? Is it an athletic skill, is it writing your next bestseller, being able to take charge of a high-performing business? What psychological skill would you need to develop? Are you ready to commit to developing your talent for years in, years out? If you are a trainer, leader, CEO – are you willing to see that talent is everywhere and it is up to you to create an environment where potential can be unleashed? Are you unleashing yours? Or are you too stressed, burnt out and unmotivated? By the way, there is a way out of that as well, but it means work.
Talent means work. To be able to work on your skills you need to also train your psychological skills. Let’s get to it!