Talent vs Effort

Have you ever watched a particularly gifted person, maybe an athlete, artist or musician and marvelled at how amazing they are? Wondered at their innate talent and wished you could do something like that? Well here’s a question. How much of their gift or talent is really innate and how much is actually based on effort. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not decrying natural talent but if you show me an amazing concert pianist then I’ll show you someone who has sat at their piano hours upon hours, day after day, month after month, year after year. They possibly have some innate talent or gift, but they also have grit. Which brings me to the book “Grit” by Angela Duckworth.


“Grit” first came onto my radar via Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory podcasts (definitely worth a listen). It comes in fifth on his list of important books that EVERYONE should read. Angela Duckworth, and internationally acclaimed psychologist, defines grit as the ability to apply effort consistently over time and goes into some length about how it is often overlooked in our supposed recognition of talent. When we look at someone who has achieved success in whatever field, it’s easy to dismiss them as talented, but we often don’t ask the question “how did they become so accomplished?” The answer is almost always (always always?) through hard work and perseverance. In fact Angela has even worked out a formula which shows effort is twice as important as raw talent, where talent is described as the innate ability to learn a particular craft quickly;

Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Results

Note how in the formula, effort figures twice, whereas talent only once.

To quote from the book;
“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive”


“With everything perfect,” Nietzsche wrote, “we do not ask how it came to be.” Instead, “we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.”
“Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius,” Nietzsche said. “For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking…. To call someone ‘divine’ means: ‘here there is no need to compete.’” In other words, mythologizing natural talent lets us all off the hook.

I don’t consider myself particularly talented, but I’m using what talent I have, combined with a serious amount of effort, to create a new reality for myself through a digital marketing business. Click here to find out how you can do likewise.

Buy Angela Duckworth’s “Grit” here.

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