I hate the word ‘talent.’ People use it so freely and so often that you would think it actually carried some weight behind it. Take it from someone who is said to be ‘talented’ in many different areas: talent ain't shit. All that really matters is intelligence.
If you are smart and are capable of learning, then you can learn anything. Sure, some people seem to excel in one area rather than in others, but that is a preference — an inclination towards one subject rather than another — and not an innate magical skill.
Nevertheless, the term exists and people are fond of using it. So let’s say that talent, a natural aptitude or skill, actually does exist. Let’s say that some of us are born with ‘talent’ and some of us are not. If you are unlucky enough to be one of these untalented people, then cheer up — you have a better shot at being successful than those talented prodigies.
Talented people are lazy f*cks. I know I am. When things come easily to you, when you are able to pick up on things quickly, you tend not to try so hard. I mean, why put in extra effort when you can put in the minimum and still manage to pull off the work that most people spend hours-on-end completing?
And this is the curse of the talented; talented people go through life putting in minimal effort and are happy to pass through life easily. You’ll often see a smirk on their face when their work pays off better than yours, knowing that it took them a fourth of the effort and time that it took you.
They develop a sort of belief of entitlement over the years, feeling that things ought to be handed to them simply because they were blessed with a higher I.Q. than most. And so comes their slow and painful downfall.
It starts in kindergarten with learning to read and then goes through elementary school. Over the years those deemed to be talented form habits — poor study and work habits. The easier they get good grades, the less they will push themselves and the less they will come to understand the incredible importance of working hard and of acting in order to get results.
They will cruise on through high school and possibly even college and then they are thrown into the real world — a world that could not care less about talent, but instead judges people by the results that they are able to produce. Because they have spent the entirety of their lives running on low gears, they are incapable of pushing themselves for long enough to produce the necessary results that are required of success.
This is when the ‘average’ person excels and leaves all of those talented fools broken and confused. Those that never had things come their way easily, those that had to put a real effort towards getting those good grades, those that had to spend hours forcing themselves to study and forcing themselves to learn, have learned how to work most efficiently and are the ones that begin to produce more consistent positive results. No matter how talented you believe yourself to be, no matter how quickly you can learn, the same truth remains: no person is born a master.
Mastery is not something that most of us are too familiar with. It is not something that is emphasized or stressed in school. It is not something that is brought up in your chosen field — but it is the only road leading to success. The thing about mastery is that no matter how much talent or lack of talent you possess, reaching it requires just about the same amount of time for each of us.
Most people will agree that it takes about 10,000 hours of solid practice or training in any given field to really develop a sort of mastery of the subject. 10,000 hours of consistent, focused training in one specific field comes out to roughly 10 years of solid hard work. Those that are exceptionally talented may be able to pull it off in 9 years — but the general consensus is that it takes 10 years.
I do not want to veer off onto the topic of mastery, but I will give you one example: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart began playing the piano at a very young age. His father was a pianist himself and taught both him and his sister. Mozart and his older sister formed a sort of duo and travelled across Europe with their father, performing for royalty and the like, making themselves a decent living. As you all know, Mozart — though an amazing pianist — is better known for his skills as a composer.
Although he had been playing the piano since the age of 3, he didn’t start composing serious pieces until much later in his life. Even after he began to compose long pieces regularly, he didn’t create his first masterpiece until about 10 years later. 10 years of constant, laborious work. He worked so hard and so furiously that he literally worked himself to death by the age of 35.
Now, I do not recommend that anyone work themselves to death. But in order to master any skill, a work ethic on the brink of obsession must be formed. This is something that ‘average’ or untalented people learn early on, having to work harder than those believed to be talented simply in order to keep up with them.
This is something that most talented people do not learn because they enjoy being lazy and enjoy floating through life — at least until those that they believed to be beneath them begin to sprint right on past them. When this happens, the talented either come to realize their mistake and begin to work hard in order to catch up on all the work they put off for their entire lives, or they continue to believe that things will eventually turn to their favor and continue cruising.
If they choose the latter then they amount to nothing and devolve to the average — or go insane and spend the rest of their lives hating themselves and their failures, hating the world for not realizing their talent. The world realized, but raw talent is nothing without work.
It’s a shame really. Those born with ‘talent’ or a sharp intelligence tend to waste their lives and waste all of their potential along with it. Laziness and self-righteous entitlement plagues too many people as it is and loves to feed on those that are under the false illusion that their lives will be smooth and easy. Life is never easy for one simple reason.
When we are young we come to understand what we are capable of and plan our lives accordingly. The more talented we believe ourselves to be, the more daring our hopes and dreams. The more seemingly unlikely the dreams, the more difficult to attain. The more talented you are, the more insane your dreams are and the more difficult they will be to get a hold of.
No matter how talented you are, you will need to work hard for that which you really want. Fail to work hard, fail to put in the effort, the hours, fail to break a sweat and you will inevitably end up a failure. A talented failure is still a failure…No. Worse.
A talented failure is the worst kind of failure because you are wasting the gifts that nature gave you. Being talented comes with the responsibility to put your skills and intelligence towards bettering the human race and helping our further evolutionary progress. Being lazy doesn’t accomplish shit.
Paul Hudson | Elite.
For more from Paul, follow him on Twitter @MrPaulHudson