Is talent born?

09 Apr

I wanted to continue on with the theme I began yesterday on whether or not we are born with our talents, or whether they are learned.

I found an article by Cherry Woodburn that I’m going to share:

There’s a wonderful PEANUTS cartoon by Charles M.Schulz that features Sally Brown

Sally. Image from Peanuts Wiki

complaining to her teacher about the “C” she received on her coat hanger sculpture.

She asks the teacher several questions about how her work was judged. Here’s one of them.

“…was I judged on my talent? If so, is it right that I be judged on a part of life over which I have no control?”

I love this cartoon. (found in Future Force by Elaine McClanahan and Carolyn Wicks) It’s funny and includes powerful lessons.

For example, when Sally says that she has no control over her talent, she really thinks she’s trumped the teacher. Many of you might have had the same reaction. However, that – what I’m going to call – limited thinking is part of  a fixed mind-set that most of you were raised with and can keep you stuck and not doing what you really want to do.

The fixed mindset says that “talents and personalities are more or less inborn, carved in stone, as compared to a “growth mindset that believes success is a result of effort as much as or more than aptitude.”

For example, if you believe that you weren’t born with the talent for writing and you believe in a fixed mind set, why would you attempt writing a book or articles? You’d believe you were doomed to fail. That’s the same thinking as Sally Brown’s belief that she could do no better on her sculpture because she wasn’t born with a talent in sculpture/art. However, if Sally had a growth mind-set, she would realize she could become a prize-winning coat hanger sculptor if she:

  1. started to practice making sculptures consistently for a period of time every day
  2. took classes to learn techniques and the best coat hangers to use
  3. hired a coat hanger sculpture coach

By the same token you could become a successful writer (or something else you want to do) if you deliberately set aside time every day to practice writing; if you remained consistent in that practice over a lengthy period of time and if it’s something you really want to do.

I’ve read many articles that refer to Tiger Wood’s natural talent and athletic ability. Perhaps those things are true, I don’t really know. But what I do know is that he had been practicing golf virtually every day, for hours, for 15 years before he became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship.  Woods still practices up to 8 hours daily.  It’s the practice and effort that makes him a success.

As long as you retain a fixed mind-set you’re destined to limit yourself to work that you think you can do naturally, easily. You’ll be less willing to try, try, try again in the field you want to work in or play in. You won’t struggle at something believing that it’s about innate talent rather than practice and effort.

On Saturday, I overheard with sadness a young woman telling a kid “She took Japanese and it was so hard she had to quit in two weeks.” Had to quit because she was struggling with learning a foreign language after only two weeks of effort. <sigh> These kind of statements aren’t just said to children, I hear adults saying it about themselves all the time. “I can’t draw, I just have no talent for it.” “She’s a natural at writing, wish I were.” “I don’t know how to run a business on-line so I’m sticking with what I know.”

Stop limiting your possibilities, just get out there and fail and fail and fail until you learn how to do what you want to do. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it sure makes you better.

Have a good one! (Evin –


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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


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