The limits of talent

Many people think that we all have natural talents which can never be changed. “I’m a word guy” or “I’m really good at math”. People think of these proclivities as immovable realities that can never be changed.

I disagree.

Now to be fair, there are limits. Most of you never had a chance to become an NBA player, whereas I, who stands at 6’7″ (200cm), did. (Don’t worry, I squandered it gloriously.) But outside of that, the limits are far fewer than you think.

Through a combination of hard work, good teachers, and ridiculous stubbornness, you can do far more than you think you can, even if it’s something you’re not “good” at. You’re not good at it because you haven’t tried, because you haven’t been taught, because you never cared! Not because you cannot.

Yes, there are some things we’re naturally better at, and there are some things we’ll never be able to do, but the list is far smaller than you think it is. All you have to do is stop being so damn pessimistic and actually try.

If you earnestly want to master a skill, that will make up for any deficiency in natural talent a thousand times over. Trust me. I’ve done it myself.

2 thoughts on “The limits of talent

  1. On the contrary, sometimes hard work breaks the norms of talent. As you used an NBA reference, might I suggest you look up Muggsy Bogues? He’s shorter than I am, for crying out loud.

    • Mr. Bogues is an outlier, and while that takes nothing away from his accomplishments, it also doesn’t invalidate my point. Sure, I could have said “Most of you probably never had a chance”, but I don’t like watering down my point by equivocating too much.

      Besides, I would argue that Mr. Bogues probably had a lot of talent to make it to the NBA at 5’3″. He was just a bit unlucky in the genetic lottery for height, is all.

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