The Bottom Line
If you think people are born with an innate ability for excelling in a particular field, think again. Raw talent and hard work only get you so far. Greatness doesn't come from genetics; it’s built over time from “deliberate practice.”
You might look at people who are giants in their field, such as Warren Buffett, Michael Jordan and Itzhak Perlman, and assume that their extraordinary abilities are the result of innate gifts. And you probably think you couldn’t possibly replicate that level of success because you weren’t born with that type of special talent.
In his best-selling book Talent is Overrated, journalist and Fortune magazine editor Geoff Colvin tackles the question of what makes people truly exceptional at what they do: Is it a gift? Drawing on extensive scientific research, he debunks the myth that you’ve either got it, or you don’t, finding instead that excellent performance isn't reserved for a chosen few and no one is a natural-born anything.
If, however, great performance doesn’t depend on having a natural gift, then the opportunity for — and the burden of — greatness falls squarely into our hands. What makes people excel isn’t superhuman talent. Rather, the determining factors for greatness are deliberate practice, intrinsic motivation and getting an early start.
II. What Is Talent?
III. (Deliberate) Practice Makes Perfect
IV. Models of Excellence
V. Early Learner, Top Performer
VI. Fueling Your Inner Drive
VII. The Multiplier Effect
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