As of late I have been pondering the term “natural talent”. The more I think about it, the more opposed to it I become. Nowadays I tend to get annoyed when I hear someone tell me that I am naturally talented. The term implies that I am born with abilities that the masses do not have, nor can acquire. Worst, it implies it that I am only good at something because of nature. The term clearly disregards the hard work that I would have had to invest to be good at something. Even after pointing this fact out, for some people accepting that talented people are not born with an unfair advantage is hard.
So I wondered, is my detest for the term irrational? Is there actually such a thing as “natural talent”? I could not possibly hope to answer this question without extensive research, so I did the next best thing: Google. I looked at it from a creative’s and academic’s perspective, and what prominent figures have said on the subject. I looked at personal threads discussing the topic. I looked into research surrounding logic and creativity. I compared theories in relation to what we know of the brain.
After all that, here is what I have surmised, in easy-to-digest sentences:
- Logic is the understanding of the world around you - If we were a world of only logical thinkers we would never have invented a damn thing.
- Creativity is the defeat of logic.
- The further one can distract logic the more creativity can compensate.
- An interest can be nurtured and encourage, and approval from one’s peers can solidify it.
- Without gratification from one’s hard work it is impossible to peruse it.
- Skill is the accumulation of knowledge.
- Talent is the culmination of dedication and hard work.
Doing this experiment encourages my beliefs that “natural talent” is just a myth. The important factors needed to be talented tend to depend on nurture rather than nature. Which leaves me to strongly believe everyone has the potential to be “talented”. And not just at one thing, if a person has the determination and time, I see no reason why they cannot gain a talent for something completely new.
I think the misconception of the term comes from children whom have applied their creativity in one direction from a very early age. By the time their peers and seniors catch wind of it, they have already dedicated a considerable amount of time honing their skill. When an adult assess that child’s ability considering their age and other’s abilities, they jump to the conclusion it must be “natural talent”.
Talent, it seems, really hinges on the ability to readily distract logic, and a strong desire to do so.