Is Talent or Hard Work More Important?
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Published: Wed, 13 Sep 2017
The debate is incessant: To succeed, what is more important talent or hard work? How people become good in sience, music or sports? Is it the innate or the acquired?
These questions have, for a long time raised intense polemics in psychology. Some insist on the decisive role of practice and work, others argue that talent and intelligence have a much more significant impact on our actions. The first part of this dissertation, will demonstrate that it is the hard work that leads to excellence. The second part, will consist of examples of famous characters and living legends that have reached the heights, through hard work and not just talent. Although it is true that hard work takes precedence over talent, a third part will be devoted to the study of the importance of talent.
Studies suggest that, all things being equal, people with natural talent do better in life than others. They certainly leave with a head start, but what about the hard worker? Studies also suggest that training and effort reduce the gap between talented and less talented individuals. So, talent helps, but hard work makes it possible to measure up to the talented people and even surpass them. This is true, especially since people with raw talent often tend to rest on their laurels. Hard work can not make talent less useful, but talent becomes less useful when it is not perfected by hard work. Intelligence Quotient is a suitable indicator of performance for an unfamiliar task, but once a person does the same job for a few years, the intelligence quotient does not predict much, or even nothing about performance. In fact, what separates the best from the good, is hard work and determination. According to recent studies of the most successful people in the world, including athletes, businessmen, musicians and scientists, the key factor behind their success at all, was not an extraordinary innate skill, as many like to believe it. The common denominator is hard work, a lot of work. In fact, about 10.000 hours of this, which is about three hours every day for ten consecutive years, before one of them could be defined as an “expert” in his field. I you are a sports enthusiast, you are probably amazed by the phenomenal capabilities of the athletes. You are wondering how they can deliver such high performance day after day. These talented athletes do what we, mortals, can only dream of. Where do these extraordinary abilities come from? Is their excellence genetic? What about business excellence? Do successful entrepreneurs have the business gene? We, often feel that everything they touch changes into gold. Or, is it just a question of talent?
Our greatest athletes can help us answer that question. In fact, Wayne Gretzky, nicknamed the Marvel, who has accumulated an incomparable amount of honors and scoring records, has already said that Nature did not give him an exceptional size and speed. Gretzky practiced, every day of his childhood, on the ice to refine his skills. He is acknowledged to have said, that the greatest compliment he could receive was to tell him that he worked hard every day, that he was not lazy. This is the secret of his success.
The Beatles burst onto the world stage in the 1960s, as if they were suddenly transported from their hometown of Liverpool to land on the biggest stages of the world, but their success was not immediat. They practiced 8 hours a day, seven days a week. They did this for 270 days over a period of 18 months. As the Beatles enjoyed their first commercial success in 1964, they had already given more than 1200 performances in Germany, which is much more than the groups are playing throughout their career. When the Beatles went to Germany the first time, they were not very good, but after practicing hard, their music became incomparable.
Generally considered a computer genius, Bill Gates had the chance to attend a private school in Seattle that had a computer club. That was in 1968, the Gates’ club did not have an ordinary computer, they had an ASR-33 Ticker, one of the most sophisticated computers of the moment. Gates had become addicted to computers and started programming in high school, this led him to other experiences in Seattle and by the time he gratuated, Gates had practically lived in the computer room for five years. There are similar examples: Bill Joy, the legend of computing and founder of Sun Microsystems. Mozart, whose greatest compositions were written after he had composed more than twenty years. So for the majority, if not all, their work started when they were still children, they have achieved their level of expertise through their unremetting training since their youth.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe has said :” The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it”. It is true, that more recent research shows that intellectual capacities play a decisive role in achieving success in many areas. For example, researchers have followed the educational trajectories of more than 2.000 people who, at the age of 13, obtained the highest SAT scores, and they note that, compared with the best 9%, the first 1% have three to five times more likely to have a doctorate, write a book or publish an article in a scientific journal. These same researches also evoke their own results, which are based on the analysis of what they call capacity related to “working memory”. According to them, this intellectual quality is innate and it makes the difference between, for example, two pianists with the same experience but not the same intelligence. But does not the real talent lie above all, in the will to improve, to transform its innate qualities into real skills. Ultimately, the talent, if not worked, fades like a plant without water.
Michael Jordan, legend of the NBA, has already said, talent allows to win once, but in the long term, it is necessary to work to succeed : ” The talent allows to win matches, but the teamwork and intelligence allow to win championships.” I challenge you to observe people around you and determine which camp they belong to, the talented or the hard worker? Are the people you most rely on, talented or hard working? If you rely only on talented people, think about what Michael Jordan said and ask yourself : Are you looking to win a single game or win the championship?
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