Talent and Skill

If you’ve watched this video from my last post, you probably picked up on this theme. It’s a clue into one of life’s great mysteries. Success depends on both talent and skill. They are similar but radically different at the same time. One is a gift you have been given. The other is completely up to you.

Incredible Talent + Years of Acquired Skill

Talent is something that you acquire due to your genes, upbringing, experiences as a child, etc. You have them or you don’t. Maybe your father took you out on the golf course since the age of 5, or enrolled you in swim lessons as a pre-schooler, or you had that piano sitting in your living room in the house you grew up in, maybe you happened to be very tall, maybe you have incredible hand-eye coordination, maybe you have a photographic memory, etc.

Skill is something you acquire by working hard day after day. The most talented person in the world will get schooled by a hard-worker if they don’t train hard and focus (as an example,  watch the movie “Tyson,” I just did and it is quite good). I think we all know examples of people who seemed to cruise through school without studying….only to hit a wall in college or in the workforce when skating buy doesn’t cut it. Without skill a talented person will have no way of illustrating their craft in the world – they will lack the physical and intellectual capability to live up to their potential.

Similarly, someone who lacks natural talent can overcome and excel through acquired skill. Look at Dean Karnazes, not a natural runner by body-type,  but boy can he run and run and run (for hundreds of miles at time)! Look at the numerous corporate leaders with learning disabilities (e.g. Billionaire Richard Branson has written about his dyslexia). Muggsy is another example, how someone who is 5′ 3″ can excel in the NBA is beyond me (and at that block 39 shots???!).

However, put the two together and you really have an explosive combo. What are you talented at? Are you willing to put the required effort in to really develop your skills in the area? How will your life, and the world, be different if you did so? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to cultivate your potential?

As the new year approaches, these questions are worth some thought.

Published by Ravi Raman

Executive Coach + Yogi + Endurance Athlete