Skill vs. Talent – What’s the Difference?

by | Feb 22, 2018 | Self Discovey, Video, Weekday Wisdom

Weekday Wisdom, Episode 37

Are you skilled? Or are you talented? And what’s the difference? That’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s Weekday Wisdom.

Skill vs Talent
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Today I’m going to talk about a topic that I’ve been really immersed in lately. In the book I’m writing, Public Speaking Super Powers, I open up the book with a discussion of skill versus talent. And what made me think about it today was this quote from Stephen King:

“Talent is cheaper than table salt.
What separates the talented individual
from the successful one
is a lot of hard work.”

Now research I’ve found actually backs up what Stephen King said.

It doesn’t matter how talented you are. If you don’t put effort into developing that talent, it doesn’t make a lick of difference. Here was something I discovered:

“An analysis of positive and negative evidence and arguments suggest that differences in early experiences, preferences, opportunities, habits, training, and practice are the real determinants of excellence.”

>> Howe, Michael J. A., & Davidson J. W., & Sloboda, J. A. (1998 in press) Innate Talents: Reality Or Myth. Behavioural and Brain Sciences 21 399-442.

So you see you can have a latent talent, but it can remain undeveloped if you don’t have the right experiences or support to develop it. And, you can develop that talent, but if you don’t put a lot of work into really, really honing it, it can not necessarily reach its potential.

So what’s the difference between skill versus talent? In general, skill is something that you learn. Talent is something that’s supposedly inborn, it’s something that you’re just able to do. And most of the research seems to suggest that we have predispositions toward certain things that make certain skills easier for us to learn.

For example, it’s not like you’re born with a public speaking talent, but you may be born with an outgoing personality or an aptitude for communication skills. Or maybe you have a way of telling stories that comes very naturally to you. And, if those are nurtured and grown, then you can use those talents to become a successful public speaker.

Another example from the musical world is if you have long fingers you might be better at playing the piano. That doesn’t mean you will be good at playing the piano. Long fingers give you an edge over someone with shorter fingers. So, if you have the desire to learn piano, then you’ll more than likely spend more time playing the piano, and therefore develop that skill better.

Here’s what Piers Steel, Ph.D. said:

“Even if you weren’t born with genius in your genes,
you can outperform the smartest of individuals
as long as you work hard
and the latter doesn’t.”

Here’s the thing with talent vs. skill: You can have a talent, but if you don’t put the hard work in to develop it, someone who wasn’t born with that talent, but does put the hard work in, can beat you at that particular skill.

Most things in life that lead to success are skills. They’re things that can be learned.

Dr. Steel continues:

“The differences between the smart and the not so smart
shrink quite a bit if they both work hard.
That means that talent still counts,
but hard work puts you right up there.

This is excellent news because it means that if you want to be good at something, all you have to do is put in the effort. And, more than likely you will beat someone who’s natural at it because most people are lazy and they don’t put the work in. That includes the talented.

NOTE: I’ve recorded a video of me reading the first draft of this chapter that I refer to above, and I will be posting it later. However, it’s a longer video (about 15 minutes) and I wanted to get to the heart of the matter today.

Don’t box yourself in.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because you — yes, you — are capable of more than you know.

And I hope that you really understand that because of what I talked about today.

Please post a comment below
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What are your thoughts about skill versus talent? I’d love to hear from you. Please, comment below. And, if you have questions for future videos, please comment below or contact me. And of course, like always, if you enjoyed this video, like it on YouTube.

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