Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Jane Friedman, famed There Are No Rules blogger and media & networking expert, has had several posts recently about talent vs. determination.  She argues that determination is more meaningful than talent, not because talent is unnecessary, but because having talent doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a great success, while determination and focus will propel you forward.

"I suspect that a few of my most talented students aren't putting in the effort required to succeed. They've succumbed to the demons of ambivalence and apathy."

That's the funny thing about talent: if it comes too easily, sometimes you neglect it, and won't pursue that activity.  It's too easy.  But if you want to succeed at that task, if you're truly passionate about the activity, you'll do whatever it takes to get there.  That's not the same as being talented.

In a separate post on her personal blog, Jane talks about the 3 Boring Elements of Success: 1) Extraordinary Focus, 2) Dedication and Consistency, and 3) Industry Awareness.  However, taking that a step further, all three of these elements come with passion for what you're doing, obsession with your chosen vocation.

If you are passionate about your job, it will be easy to find the focus and dedication to perform each and every day.  You might need a break now and again, but the itch will grow and you'll be back to it before you even realize it.  Similarly, if you love your career, you'll want to know what's going on in the industry and what trends are popping up, so that you can find your own best way of navigating that world.  You'll want to know every little detail, not because it's a required part of your work day, but because you're fascinated by the changes, events, or connections around you.

Having great talent isn't really necessary if you're willing to put in the work*.  Having great passion is required.  With that passion, the work will come easier, the 10,000 hours of practice won't be forced.  And eventually, you'll demonstrate the talent that may have appeared to be lacking in the beginning.  As Justine Musk, of Tribal Writer, says:

"Common wisdom has it that we’re passionate about the things we’re naturally good it, but it’s possible that it’s the other way around: we become “naturally” good at the things we’re truly passionate – and obsessive – about."

* Caveat: it's probably good to have some basic aptitude, but you don't need to be an idiot savant.

No comments:

Post a Comment