Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Talent is Overated"

A little over a week ago when I was at the Houston airport awaiting my flight to Baltimore, I picked up the book "Talent is overrated" by Geoff Colvin. I finished it last friday.
Before I start my review it must be noted that his definition of talent is what most people call "natural talent." So his thesis is not that ability and aptitude themselves are overrated, it is that the natural component of what makes talent is dramatized.
What I found interesting about this book is that his conclusions and his way of thinking are very similar the ones that I have been formulating since I have given the matter a thought.
For example, his categorization of the different models of talent are "sports model," "music model," and "business model," which is in accordance with my own thoughts.
His thesis about what really separates the truly talented with the mediocre too, bears a no small resemblance to my own formulations. He contends that it is not natural aptitude that determines greatness, but nor is it just plain old hard work; it is what he calls "deliberate practice." Practice that demands concentration, that is harder each time, that gets one out of his comfort zone, and is "not inherently enjoyable." Practice that incorporates specific, short term goals within a framework of a long term goal. Practice that is expertly designed and gives constant feedback.

Colver gives plenty of examples of what deliberate practice is and real life examples of how it was done, revealing that its the sort of practice that we seldom do.

The author places a special emphasis on the business stars, spelling out the stories of some of America's top C.E.O's.

After delving into the essence of deliberate practice, Colver then proceeds to outline how it can be applied to organizations in making the individuals and teams into a higher caliber. G.E, for example, spends millions of dollars and devotes thousands of work hours for employee development programs.

There is more to the book, of course, and with the conclusion of this review, I will gladly let the reader find out for himself.

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