Here is Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “The Tipping Point” talking about “the gifted” and “the talented”. Gladwell sums up his feelings on the subject in two eloquent words: “So what?” I could not agree more.
Scientific experts have found in a number of different studies that talent doesn’t mean motivation or intelligence, or even personality traits. UK-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda concluded in an extensive study, “The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.” *
As a trainer in communication skills, I’m much more interested in the following: Will, Tenacity, Passion, Approach, Desire, and Discipline as traits for being a great communicator.
So a few words about approach. The people who excel as communicators are the ones who dedicate time and attention to what I will call approach. Approach being the ability to practice with the sole aim of getting better at the activity/skill itself. In the case of communication, feedback is key to practicing with approach.
A good 1 on 1 coaching session with Working Voices offers feedback that builds on individual strengths and isolates areas for improvement. Its too difficult to assess your own strengths and weaknesses by yourself. It’s why the greatest actors need directors and why the greatest athletes need coaches. The next approach is to devise practicable exercises that address ones specific needs and practice them enough times so that the skills become second nature. And so we’re back to our old friends: Will, Tenacity, Passion, Approach, Desire, and Discipline!
So when I think about labels like “being gifted “or “talented”, I frequently think of the following quote:
“Genius is seldom recognized for what it is: a great capacity for hard work.”
* “Innate Talents, Reality or Myth”, Michael J. A. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A Sloboda, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Cambridge University Press, 1998.