Am I not talented enough?

February 5, 2018 ...

This is a question that often plagues the minds of beginners who set out to learn a skill and seeds doubt in their hearts making them question whether they are just not “cut out” to achieve the achievements they set out to achieve. So let’s address this query right now and explore its validity so that when you are confronted with the same doubts, you are better equipped to shake them off!

According to research, natural talent is not a myth. To study the effects of innate abilities in sports, scientists had several participants undergo the same practice regime. Different individuals saw different levels of improvement and participants who were related by blood showed similar levels of improvement, indicating that genes played a role in their athletic abilities.


So is that it? Do I give up on my hopes and dreams because I do not have the right genes?

Not yet! After statistical analysis, the study showed that genes only gave the participants a baseline edge, and practice hours had a much greater influence on the performance of the participants.

To elaborate the idea further a psychologist at Florida State University came in clutch in 1991, and conducted the most extensive investigation in the cause of outstanding performance. His subjects were violinists at the renowned “Music Academy of West Berlin”. After studying the habits of over 5000 musicians, he found out that the top 1% of the violinists, deemed to become soloists in the future, did not show any higher frequency of the special music gene compared to the rest of the participants.

However, the outstanding difference was in work ethic. There was at least a 2000-hour difference in total practice time between the best violinists and the rest of the participants.

The top performers had learned no faster than those who reached lower levels of attainment. The difference was simply that top performers had practiced consistently for more hours. What is even more surprising is that there were no exceptions to this pattern. There was nobody who had worked their socks off had failed to excel! Purposeful practice was the only distinguishing factor. Practice was the only thing that mattered.

It’s not that you don’t have it in you

Hence, the final verdict: Practice triumphs! (Stay tuned for tips on how to practice effectively!)

The idea that innate ability, rather than practice, is what determines whether we have it within us to achieve excellence, can be corrosive, robbing individuals the incentive to improve themselves through effort. That is why I am in love with the following quote from Michelangelo:

“If people knew how much I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”

I believe anyone has the capability to learn anything when given the right resources. I can confidently say that consistent practice can take your skills to places you could never have imagined yourself to reach.

But you must be ready to put in the all the hard work it demands. You will eventually create paintings and sculptures that are so beautiful that no one in your time can believe it’s humanly possible to create something so majestic. But when people get to know your story and see the insane practice hours you put in, they will no longer be surprised; no less can be expected of someone who has dedicated so much work ethic to his craft.

So, the next time you start doing something and you start feeling that you aren’t good enough, think again. It’s not that you don’t have it in you, it’s just that you didn’t practice enough and you still have a long way to go and many more failed attempts to take.

Like the Italian Football legend Andrea Pirlo once said, “Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong”.  And the only difference between you and the expert you aspire to be is not a lack of innate talent, but the fact that you didn’t even try doing it the number of times he has failed.

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