Talent Is Meaningless

Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of eight. He composed over 600 pieces of music during his short life. When we speak of his accomplishments and of the quality of the music he wrote, we use the word "talent."

When the word is used in this manner, it is safe to say that not everyone has it. Talent becomes a rare characteristic found in a select number of people. We would say that Mozart was born with natural talent. In other words, he didn't do anything to possess musical genius, he just had it.

The problem with understanding talent in this manner is how it cripples most of us in our efforts to create things. You see, no matter how hard we try, most of us will never have what Mozart had.

The part we don't talk near enough about is what Mozart did with his talent. Imagine what would have happened if Mozart decided he didn't want to learn to play the clavier at four or the violin at five. How much emptier would the world be today if Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Don Giovanni had never been composed because Mozart wanted to pursue a life of watchmaking or carpentry.

When he committed himself to writing and playing music, he did something that is within everyone's grasp.

He practiced.

Most musicians will tell you that the reason for their success had little to nothing to do with musical talent and everything to do with the years of hard work and failure that went into honing their craft.

So it is with you. Don't believe the lie about natural talent. You don't need it. In fact, what is within your grasp right now is acquired talent. We identify it with another word: skill.

When asked by a fan as to how to become a great golfer, the legendary Gary Player replied in a way that probably caught this fan off guard. "First, you have to go down to the golf course and buy yourself a bucket of balls. Then you go out on the driving range and you hit them balls until they're gone. Then when the basket is empty, you go back to the clubhouse and buy another. You keep repeating this process until at some point, your hands will start to blister and bleed. Then you go wash the blood off your hand and go back to driving balls. Do that for a couple years and then come back and ask me again, and I'll tell you what's next."

Gary was trying to teach his fan about the value of skill over talent. The key to greatness in golf (or any pursuit) has to do not with the amount of talent you have inside but rather the amount of hours you dedicate to getting good at something.

Writing is my thing. What's yours? Go drive some balls and find out.

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