Talent vs. Skill

Talent is something that is innate. You are born with it and if lucky enough to notice and nurture it during your formative years, can achieve some level of success.

Skill, on the other hand, is developed through practice. Practice that can take result in massive capacity for achievement, as a result of months or even years of steady and consistent work.

For any endeavor there is a combination of talent and skill that come to bear in order to determine the final outcome.

A highly talented person with a very poor work ethic will not achieve success over the long-term, though some “lucky” moments of short-term success are bound to occur. Think about the students who seem to get A’s without studying, or the high school swimmers who crush school records with poor physical shape and a lazy attitude in practice.

However, someone with a dedicated focus on cultivating skill will slowly – and inevitably – become successful over the long-term, even if the gains take a while to show up.

If I had to choose between being innately talented – or highly skilled – I’ll take the latter any day, even it requires some hard work on my part to develop.

Skill, once developed, is enduring. The trick is to not give up too soon.

4 thoughts on “Talent vs. Skill”

  1. The truly great have both. It’s amazing to see guys like Federer and Nadal who are clearly exceptionally talented but also have an incredible work ethic. I’m impressed with the way especially Nadal has honed the “weaknesses” in his game to be a threat on any surface. You can argue that their time has perhaps passed but I think they will continue to adapt and surprise.

    My mom also told me an interesting thing a few years ago when my dad retired from farming…that we only truly understand our professions, sports, pasttimes, etc…when we are finished doing them. Something that is at the same time sad but also full of hope because we spend our lives evolving as we learn new strengths as other ones break down over time and due to our natural aging. Something that we don’t acknowledge enough when we are young and frequently appreciate when we look back over time as we grow older.

    1. I really like that point of view.

      “Something that is at the same time sad but also full of hope because we spend our lives evolving as we learn new strengths as other ones break down over time and due to our natural aging.”

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