I Have no Talents (The Talent Myth)

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Do you have no talent?

Feel like you don’t have any talent? I never really felt like I have any identifiable talent either. I have certain skills that I would consider myself above average in but these skills have never translated into what you would consider a talent. In fact I would be willing to make the assumption that most people would say that they have no talents.

When I say talent, I mean the popular understanding of talent. Natural talent. An unusual gift. Most likely something that would have been apparent as a child and then cultivated from there. I remember when I was younger I would consider others around me as having natural talents. Maybe they could draw, play a musical instrument or were talented with numbers and mathematics.

In the past, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what my talent was. I liked writing stories when I was younger but I always said to myself that I had no talent for writing. I always considered myself an average writer (at best) I was never all that good at English when I was in school and never had much success writing anything in my own time.

In fact, one of the reasons I chose to do my degree in Scriptwriting for Film and TV rather than some sort of general creative writing course was that I didn’t believe I was a good enough writer to work on something like a novel which in my mind required a more advanced use of written English.

Fast forward five years and my mindset had dramatically changed. I can now clearly see how naïve my former self was when considering talent.

Here’s the thing. Incredible natural talent as a child is extremely rare. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist as there have been many past examples that seem to indicate that it does (consider someone like Mozart) but it isn’t common. What I had always failed to consider was the hard work that goes into developing a talent. And that’s the key. A talent isn’t just given to you. It’s developed.

 

Of course, you are going to be naturally better than some things than others. And focusing on the things you are better at will probably give you an advantage in the long run. But this doesn’t constitute as what many people would consider talent.

There are two things to understand:

 

  1. If you show promise in a skill and feel you have some talent. You are still going to have to work extremely hard and put hundreds, if not thousands, of hours into fully developing this talent.
  2. You can have no talent whatsoever for a specific skill but putting the required work into learning and improving the skill can still eventually lead you the same or greater level that the person with the talent was able to attain. This obviously depends on how hard you are willing to work.

 

Something that I have never been fond of is putting people in boxes. I have become acutely aware of how much the media likes to create narratives around talent as if it is something that just happens. The messages we always seem to be fed by much of society makes us feel like we are either good at something or we are not. You are this either this type or person or you are another type of person. The variables of hard work and improvement don’t seem to be mentioned all that much.

The thing I’m trying to get to the bottom of is this mindset that many of us have. The type of mindset that leads us to saying something like “I want to do THIS. But I have no talent for THIS.”

No. You may not be talented at THIS. But you can do THIS. You just have to apply yourself to learning THIS.

 

We are living the most amazing time. I’m not just saying that. We really are. We have access to all the information we need to teach ourselves at least the basics of near enough any skill for free!

So, if you really do want to do something but you don’t feel you have the talent level to do it. Why not just learn? Sure, it going to take time and effort to improve but you really want to do it. So, what’s stopping you?

At the end of the day. Most of us do have a choice. We can choose to develop a talent or we can choose not to. Either way is fine but you shouldn’t buy into the talent myth as an excuse.

 

Ben Worrall


Also published on Medium.