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Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates…
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Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from…

by Geoff Colvin

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A fantastic book, especially the first three-fourths. It's completely counterintuitive, but innate talent really does appear to be overrated. It seems that 'deliberate practice' is much, much more important than whatever we are born with. The author shows that even Mozart and Tiger Woods, who are frequently seen as having been born with their amazing abilities, actually developed their abilities through hard work and passion (meaning that high-abilities are open to everyone). A very eye-opening book that everyone should read. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
Insightful analysis of excellence and excellent performance in any field. The point of the book is in the title: the concept of "innate talent", when it comes to great performance, is overrated in our society, because the number 1 element that generates great performance is something else. Taking the term from a paper published years ago by someone else, the author identifies this "holy grail" of excellence in "deliberate performance", that means: whoever is ready to spend more time than the others outside of his comfort zone, and work constantly hard at improving his skills, will eventually excel. Perfect example, even though not quoted by this book, is Jiro from "Jiro's dream of sushi", a documentary about the pursuit of excellence.
I felt the concept could have been presented in less chapters and with less words, but I do think this book goes beyond the usual "et voilà: here is common sense dressed up as a great new discovery" business books (99% of them). It's not just "hard work" that generates the best performances, it's something more specific, deliberate, and painful.
Negatives: chapter 10 promises to look at "why" some people accept to go through terrible training processes and most people don't, but it doesn't even scratch the surface. There could be a gene that determines the willingness to excel, or it could be that you get that drive while living your life. Truth is, nobody will know until we better understand how the brain works. Also, the author never seems to have any understanding or empathy at all for the majority of human beings, who normally get into comfortable daily patterns and dont give a crap about constant learning and achieving excellence.
However, the liberating principle by which virtually anyone can achieve excellent performance is a breath of fresh air, in a time when still too many people, while watching their favorite NBA or football player on TV, turn around and say to their kids "Wow, that guy is a genius! Why didn't God give those skills to your daddy instead?? We would be millionaires now!". ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
Insightful analysis of excellence and excellent performance in any field. The point of the book is in the title: the concept of "innate talent", when it comes to great performance, is overrated in our society, because the number 1 element that generates great performance is something else. Taking the term from a paper published years ago by someone else, the author identifies this "holy grail" of excellence in "deliberate performance", that means: whoever is ready to spend more time than the others outside of his comfort zone, and work constantly hard at improving his skills, will eventually excel. Perfect example, even though not quoted by this book, is Jiro from "Jiro's dream of sushi", a documentary about the pursuit of excellence.
I felt the concept could have been presented in less chapters and with less words, but I do think this book goes beyond the usual "et voilà: here is common sense dressed up as a great new discovery" business books (99% of them). It's not just "hard work" that generates the best performances, it's something more specific, deliberate, and painful.
Negatives: chapter 10 promises to look at "why" some people accept to go through terrible training processes and most people don't, but it doesn't even scratch the surface. There could be a gene that determines the willingness to excel, or it could be that you get that drive while living your life. Truth is, nobody will know until we better understand how the brain works. Also, the author never seems to have any understanding or empathy at all for the majority of human beings, who normally get into comfortable daily patterns and dont give a crap about constant learning and achieving excellence.
However, the liberating principle by which virtually anyone can achieve excellent performance is a breath of fresh air, in a time when still too many people, while watching their favorite NBA or football player on TV, turn around and say to their kids "Wow, that guy is a genius! Why didn't God give those skills to your daddy instead?? We would be millionaires now!". ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
My husband read this. I heard a lot of buzz about it on the radio (I think every show on NPR interviewed Colvin). I finally picked it up, and I was not disappointed. Colvin clearly outlines why the prevailing ideas about talent aren't supported by research and what ideas (ie, deliberate practice) are. His ideas help me understand how I might set about achieving my personal goals as well as how I might organize our homeschooling practice to give my daughter the best opportunity to excel in her field of interest. I found this book informative, well-researched, inspiring, and realistic (he outlines the drawbacks of pursuing greatness as well as the positives). ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Dec 31, 2012 |
Left me with a little bit of a chicken vs. egg thought... is talent really inherited intrinsic motivation and adaptability to the skill, or is this intrinsic motivation actually nurtured? ( )
  stringsn88keys | Aug 7, 2012 |
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An expansion on the author's popular Fortune article, "What It Takes to Be Great," builds on his premise about success being linked to the practice and perseverance of specific efforts, in a full-length report that draws on scientific principles and real-world examples to demonstrate his systematic process at work.… (more)

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