There's No Such Thing As Talent

It's true. There's no such thing as talent.

I know what you're thinking: Of course talent is a real thing, you moron! People have been talking about talent forever!

First, you don't have to call me names.

Second, I have a question for you. If talent is a real thing, then tell me what it is. 

I'll wait.

You could start with a plain definition that says, "talent: Natural aptitude or skill."

Okay. What does "natural" mean? Does it mean we're born with talent floating around our bodies? If so, can you show me what talent looks like? Just point it out or carve a chunk of it out of your calf muscle.

I'll wait again. 

What? You can't show me? That's weird. Does that mean it's not a thing?

Well, maybe that's because talent is a skill.

Fine. What is "skill"?

Skill is the ability to do something well. Hmm.

What does "well" mean? 

If your cousin is the best mechanic in the family, does he do repairs well? But if there's another mechanic who's the best in town, then does your cousin still considered skilled? What about the most accomplished mechanic in the world? Does he do it well? 

How good is well?

See the problem? Trying to put our finger on what "talent" is leads us down a deep rabbit hole that ends up exactly nowhere.

But what about superstars at sports or music or things like that? They have talent!

Do they?

Superstars aren't born that way. No one is.

Mozart the genius was not good at composing right off the bat. Michael Jordan didn't make his high school basketball team. Steven Spielberg got rejected from film school three times. 

If they were "talented" how come they were so terrible at what they did?

Here's the important thing, though. The fact that that talent doesn't exist is a good thing. Maybe the best of things

When we see an amazing finished product doing incredible things on the stage, field, or canvas, it's merely the culmination of a lot of hard work. 

Every eye-popping display came to be through focused practice. That's it. They were terrible at it, just like us. They just decided that they wanted to be great, and so they set out on the multi-year course that led them to remarkable.

The myth of talent holds us back. It's a roadblock. 

"I can't do it because I don't have talent."

If there's no such thing as talent, the second part of that self-defeating statement disappears.

We all can do it. We all can be skillful. We all can be superstars. 

That's the door that opens when we stop believing in "talent."

So the next time someone says, "That person is SO talented," just throw up in your mouth a little and go back to practicing.

Eventually, they'll all think you have talent, too.

My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.