Does Talent really exist?

Jun 19, 2011, 6:01 PM |

I have found an interesting article on the idea of talent. I had always wondered what "talent" really meant biologically -- was there some extra hormone these talented people had that "mortals" did not? Personally, I have always been skeptical of it, and have suspected there are better, less ambiguous explanations for extraordinarily high levels of achievement. Anyway, it suggests that we use superficial indicators -- such as keeping a ball up in soccer to represent "potential" or "talent," and it is this notion that often causes them to be successful by encouraging training. A "prodigy" for example may just be a 5 year old that loves chess, but this may get his parents excited and give him a coach right away to "take advantage"; "not waste this gift"; meanwhile more normal kids would not get this kind of attention, and so would have less access to ideal training. In this way it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as the article states: it may be more of the motivation to take advantage of the so called "talent" than the supposed indicators of it themselves that creates extreme success.

And "ideal training" is what the author seems to believe is really what makes you good. It's a lot of practice, but it often focuses on practicing aspects of the skill you want to learn (e.g., endgames in chess) in which you are not strongest in, rather than constantly repeating what you can do pretty well, as you don't learn and grow as much in this way.

What do you think?