How exactly talent and effort and skill and achievement all fit together?
What is talent, exactly?
Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them. Of course your opportunities – for example having a great coach or teacher (it’s matter tremendously) to help you in that part. But here, I’m not addressing the outside forces nor the lady of luck standing behind you. It’s about the sensibility of achievement.
Consider two individuals in identical circumstances, for example, work of painting. Each achieves depended on two things, talent and effort. Talent – how fast we improve in skill, absolutely matters. But effort factors into the count twice (not once). The effort builds skill. Effort makes skill productive.
Let me give you an example.
I am 32 years old now. I am a chemist who looks after water quality and I have a specific skill set doing water quality analysis. I still young and I think I can do anything I want.
At the age of 27, I thought, oh well. I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes. So I did. Took me a few months to learn from watching YouTube, I asked my mom and practice on my own. So many fabrics I used to learn how to sew a cloth. I bought a sewing machine and other tools related.
At the same time, I wanted to practice drawing. So I did. I sketch almost every day. From a crappy drawing, and it gets better and better. The next thing I wanted to learn is – to learn colour my drawing. I didn’t know how to colour my drawing. I used my sister colour pencils and I just colour my drawing. This continues for the past 5 years. I learn how to paint. I learn basic graphic design. I learn how to write a blog in English. I practice English speaking in front of the mirror.
Its look like I’ll be a tailor, I’ll be art enthusiast, I’ll be a little of this, a little of that.
I know it’s getting clear now that doing one thing better and better might be more satisfying than staying an amateur at many different things. But I still not giving up the skills I have now. Only that, I am slowing down. I choose to let go of the tailoring and concentrate on art and write in my blog from time to time because that was where I felt my interest lay. I still sew my own cloth, it’s just I’m not doing it every day or week or month. I sew whenever I want to sew something. I have the skill but not the mastery.
Art itself is an enormous form. To really focus in that area, I must choose one and yet I still can’t focus which media. I learn how to use colour pencil, graphite, pastels, watercolor, gouache, acrylic paints, spray paints and oil paints. My lack of effort made me less productive because of I unable to concentrate on one particular media. I already invest so much in art materials. My first reason is I want to become versatile in art creation. I know what I did probably not productive at all. I will continue to strive to make artwork which is exciting and appealing to me. Perhaps, after a series of practising and experience every media, finally I able to choose my favourite one.
Then I made up my mind about blogging. I will just continue to write about my journey and my thoughts whenever I feel I want to write something. I share with you what I have learned, what I have been through.
I believe the more you practice – things will get easier. It will eventually improve. With effort, I believe you will get better and better at what you’re doing. Simultaneously, you become more accomplished.
Since reading, writing, practising art didn’t come easily, I learned that:
To do anything really, really well, you have to overextend yourself. You just had to pay twice as much attention. Do something over and over again, something that never natural becomes almost second nature. You learn that you have the capacity for that, and that is doesn’t come overnight.
It’s true. It took me 5 years just to learn a few creative skills. But I am not an expert in any of them, because I can’t focus on one particular skill.
Do the talented learn that lesson? Do they discover that the capacity to do something over and over again, to struggle to have patience, can be mastered – but not overnight?
Some might learn that lesson. But those who struggle early may learn it better. Be confident in your stamina to go over something, again and again, no matter how difficult it is.
I remember when 17 years old. I signed up for a 100m run competition. I thought I was a fast runner. Did I win the race? Yes but won last place. I tried again. This time I go for 400m. I did my best. Out of 10 participants, I manage to get 2nd last place. Next race was 1500m distance. I preserved as much as my stamina, steadily run at a slow pace. At last 50m in distance, I gathered my courage, focus to run as fast as I can toward the finish line and won the race at 2nd place.
I realize that I don’t have the power to accelerate but I have the stamina to run at a longer distance. I have never viewed myself as a talented person. Perhaps the thing I am good at is a hard work ethic and my curiosity to learn something that fascinated to me.
When come to study, I am not a smart student. From Form 1 until Form 4, I can’t beat all the smart students. But when I turn to Form 5; I really focus on my study. To get a better result in SPM, I worked twice harder and I learned advanced chapters. Finally, the hard work paid off. I got 8A’s in my SPM’s result.
It’s become an advantage.
It doesn’t hurt anyone to have to go slowly, to have to go over something again and again until you get the outcome you continuously dream of. I really admire people who have the tendency further their study for the Doctor of Philosophy, the highest university degree. It’s not an easy path because it requires remarkable stamina and strength of will.
In the next post, I will write about the stamina and strength of will.
©Cha Niki. 2019