Recent read a book called Talent is Overrated
. The general idea is that they've done numerous studies on performance and the result don't suggest that "natural talent" exists. Regardless of the activity, (whether it was sport, music, business etc.), studies of the top performers in the world (for example Tiger Woods, Mozart etc.) all show that there was nothing "natural" about their ability. Rather than having some sort of natural predisposition, top performance is a function of time committed and quality of practice.
Time committed is usually a function of what age the person started doing their respective activity, and the amount of time per day they practiced. Quality of practice is usually a function of their coach's knowledge and ability to design practice that is deliberately focused on that individual. It also talks about the difference between what average performers call practice (typically repetition), and how top performers practice (termed deliberate practice). The latter is specifically designed to correct what you're not good at.
This is just a brief summary of what I got from it, but it was a very interesting book. It made me think Trinidad football and the commonly heard sentiment that we have a lot of footballing talent. (I recently read an article where a sports writer said we arguably have as much talent per capita as England or Spain
I often ask myself why are we so attached to that idea of our wealth talent, and make it such a significant point, when there really isn't any real way of measuring it. To me its always just been a sort of feel good idea that we throw around that bears no real consequence on the quality of our national football, or doesn't differentiate us from any other country (doesn't every country have tons of talent? how can we even judge?)
I also always think that it's a kind of self defeating idea to believe that we have some sort of a natural advantage through our "talent", because it gives us this inflated (if not false) sense of our potential and (perhaps) fools us into thinking that there's a natural or "granted" element to being a top performer, or that being really one of the best performers at a given activity comes easy*
for some people. It can also be bad in that if we fail, we blame our lack of talent rather than or our lack of adequate preparation/practice/dedication. (Or in the case of Trinidad football, blame our coaches because we believe that our players have so much talent!)
*On things being easy for some people what I mean is this. I'm sure if you study the lives of Maradona, Michael Jordan or any top athlete you will find that they started at a really early age, and practiced more than other people. By the time people started saying they were exceptional talents they had most likely already practiced 100s or 1,000s of hours more than other people their age. Sometimes its not as direct a relation between practice and ability, and sometimes genetics do play a role (height, etc), but more often than not the people who pick things up "easier" usually have some sort of "non-natural" development that other people didn't have. (Another thing that's notable is that "child prodigies" often don't end up being the top performers in adulthood.)
Anyway, just my thoughts (particularly after reading that book). Any ideas?