Talent is not a Gift

“Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Late one recent evening, I found myself immersed in television watching Sister Act 2.  I recall the scene where Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) brings her misfit class into what amounted to an attic space after telling them she wanted to make them into a choir.  There, she had them sing, first individually (not so bad), then as a group (not so great).

As most films go, shortly after this point, Sister Act 2 launched into its montage.  Here, clips were shown of the group as it started transforming from a bunch of individual freestyle singers into a choir.  By the time the few minutes long montage ended, the group was standing before the entire student body, administration, and faculty ready to wow them at its first performance.

As far as Hollywood entertainment goes, I understand the rationale behind such a production move.  It advances the plot much quicker, provides context without destroying entertainment value, and keeps the viewers’ interest piqued.

But, from a realistic perspective, I thought about what this montage glossed over in its few minutes of footage and what message it could be sending.  The impression it gave was that this group magically banded together to form an awesome choir simply because someone cared enough to assemble them and make them such.

The reality of the situation is that it takes hard work.  It takes practice.  It takes repeated failure, correction, and repetition to develop the skills necessary to perform at an elite level.

Too often we expect our talent to develop overnight.  It doesn’t.  Too often we try something once and quit because we were not any good at it.  Why would we expect to be great at something we have never done before?  Too often we give up before we ever get started.

Talent is not magic.  We are not born with it.  We are not just naturals.

Michael Jordan is not considered one of the greatest to ever play basketball because of magic ability bestowed on him.  Peyton Manning was not born with the ability to be an elite NFL quarterback.  Even Roy Hobbs of The Natural was not blessed with a gift for baseball.

Michael Jordan worked and practiced hard.  Peyton Manning studies the game better than anyone else.  Roy Hobbs threw pitches at the side of a barn over and over as a kid.

Do you want to be better at math, at piano, at singing, at sports?

Practice.  Don’t quit when it gets hard or you make a mistake.  Figure it out.  Correct the errors.  Work at it again.  Over and over and over again.

Don’t gloss over the work and effort.  Don’t sweep your mistakes under the rug.  Don’t take the easy way out.

The formula for developing skill can be simply stated:  Hours upon hours of repeated deep practice.

Will you put in the work or will you gloss over it and take the easy way out?

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah



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