In the book Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin argues that talent is not a determining factor of one’s success. Rather, determination, practice, and intrinsic motivation is what leads someone to be successful. Talent can only take a person so far, it’s the practice, time, and dedication that will bring someone to reach their goals.
Colvin emphasizes the importance that practice and experience are completely different things. Studies have shown that the top musicians did not show great achievement before they practiced their instruments. They also didn’t show signs that they were naturally better than other musicians, they just practiced more. Deliberate practice is what has made them such excellent performers. Some may think that experience is what contributes to one's ability, but Colvin argues otherwise. Someone who has had years of experience doing the same job will not improve. If they are doing the same thing over and over they have not grown or become more successful than when they started. Rather than experience, we should be practicing new things once we master a skill. This will continually challenge and push us to be better and better. We need new and unfamiliar experiences to learn and grow, we need deliberate practice.
Once you start practicing deliberately, you immediately gain the benefits of doing so. As you practice you analyze your mistakes and improve as you keep going. You know exactly what you need to fix and improve on. A great way to fully take advantage of deliberate practice, it’s important to start early. Childhood is the perfect time to choose a skill to start practicing. By the time they reach adulthood, they will have had so much practice that they excel at their skill. There are 3 major advantages of practicing things as a child:
Children have plenty of free time that adults don’t have. They don’t have serious responsibilities to worry about, so they have the time to practice more
Children have a support network that they can rely on for help. Children have the help of their family and friends who can support them with their skill
During childhood our brain is developing and soaks up a lot of information. Children have the ability to learn a lot faster and make much more progress in a short period of time than an adult
Even if you can’t find a skill you’re initially passionate about, you can develop your passion by forcing yourself to practice. Many studies have shown that children who were forced to practice things by their parents when they were younger eventually embraced it. They crossed a threshold and eventually had their own drive to keep practicing. This ultimately turned into their passion. Being successful isn’t about talent, it’s about choosing to practice so that you’re always improving.