Why Talent Matters (And Why It Doesn't)

When you look at any creative world, it's super easy to get inundated by mention of the talented ones and the geniuses. People are in awe of their feats, whether it be things like perfect pitch, amazing writing ability, or in the case of people like Prince, the ability to play 27 instruments fluidly.

Slowly but surely, the idea of genius and talent starts to weigh us down. We start to think that the only people who succeed must be born with some unachievable gift, and that the rest of us are left to languish in mediocrity.

Sure, some people have some pretty crazy natural abilities, but the idea of "natural talent" being a determining factor in our creative lives can be poisonous.

Yes, talent is real

And yes, it can be an advantage. But even so, that doesn't mean that it's the determining factor in our success. Far from it, in fact.

Talent only really matters when there's one way to win

In fields where there's only one way to succeed, talent means everything.

If you want to be an Olympic sprinter, there's only one way to succeed: be faster than everyone else. That's it. This requires being born with some genetic advantages without a doubt.

If you want to be a world champion chess player, then be better at chess than anyone else. Done. Nothing else to even consider. There's even a common saying in the chess world that says it's impossible to become a chess grandmaster unless you start as a very very young (and gifted) child.

But we have limitless ways to succeed, don't we?

Is there one true path to becoming a composer? A sound designer? A game developer? A writer? No. Not even close. The ways to succeed in any creative world are uncountable.

The more ways we can come at a problem, the more ways there are to succeed. And the more ways there are to succeed, the less we need to worry about being "the best" in some cold objective measure. The less we need to worry about being the objective best, the less we need to worry about talent.

So don't worry if you're not a "natural"

You can and will be great regardless.

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