Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin is an exploration of how great performers achieve their amazing feats in a variety of different fields. Tracing the careers and accomplishments of world-class talents such as Mozart, Jeff Immelt, Bill Gates, and even Chris Rock, Colvin hypothesizes that too much emphasis is placed on innate talent when it comes to assessing “great” performers. Providing in depth analyses, he theorizes that, despite their seeming ease with life’s most challenging tasks, great performers are still subject to the grueling hours of study and practice it takes to accomplish anything worth accomplishing. They just realize a lot sooner than most of us that to be great takes years of disciplined loyalty to a chosen craft. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, makes a similar observation and notes that it takes at least 10,000 hours of dedicated, diligent practice in order to become an expert at anything. Clearly, developing skills takes hard work – we may be born with the potential for greatness, but you still have to put in the effort to get there.
Can this be true – what of the geniuses we have heard so much about such as Mozart? The stories of his prodigious talent are legendary, as are the timeless masterpieces he wrote in his short life time. But as Colvin investigates and recounts Mozart’s life, we begin to see that he was not born the prolific genius the world came to know, but instead was trained rigorously from a very early age by his father, a composer and violin teacher. As Colvin reveals, Mozart became Mozart because he was given an opportunity and he was trained from a very young age, often for hours a day, by a violin instructor. It was his deliberate practice over the course of many years that allowed him to produce something as masterful as the Magic Flute at such a young age.
Colvin is at his best when he is describing how the great performers reached their goals and became world-renowned talents. His research is thorough and the flow of these mini-biographies keeps the reader entertained and focused on learning more about his “talent is overrated” thesis. Where Colvin truly succeeds however are in the middle chapters of the book, where he provides practical advice on how to achieve greatness. Focusing specifically on how to engage in deliberate practice and how to apply it to real world situations is both useful and constructive making Talent is Overrated a valuable read for anyone looking to reach the next level of performance.
Ben Nash is the editor-in-chief of DailyHRTips.com. He is the founder and chief developer of the blog, providing tech/design support as well as tips and book reviews. Ben has held many interesting jobs in his professional career, including: barista, landscaper, public policy intern, barista (again), professional horse wrangler, ski lift attendant (aka “liftie”) , political science teaching assistant, marketing and sales assistant, ecommerce/web developer, and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (briefly). Due to his constant “dabbling” , Ben has interacted with many people, in many different organizations and offers some interesting insight on the human resources game. Please contact Ben at [email protected] or visit [http://www.dailyhrtips.com].