Jonathan's Reviews > Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
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's review
Mar 28, 10

Read from February 19 to March 28, 2010

** spoiler alert ** First a quick review of the physical book itself (not the content), an oft neglected feature of book reviews. The physical product itself is of a high quality though fairly unremarkable. The paper is soft and requires very little manipulation to stay put when turned (hard creasing after each page in not necessary). The typeface is and very pleasing to eye. This size of this hardcover is a "good" size, whatever that means. Not too big, and speed-reading friendly.

The author argues against the idea of innate natural abilities be it related to music, athletics, intellect, business intuition, etc at least insofar as these traits allow certain people to perform at very high levels while the rest of us born without these capabilities are left simply to admire from afar.

Geoff Colvin paints the picture that anyone can perform at an extremely high level with the right amount (i.e. a LOT) of 1) deliberate practice , 2) specific high-quality mentoring/coaching, and a 3) highly supportive home/social environment. Mozart, Tiger Woods, and Jerry Rice and other world class performers are brought down from the lofty heights of superhuman performers and naturally talented to merely superhuman practicers who started young, had incredible coaching, and produced their best work after tens of thousands of hours of practice.

Colvin seems fairly convincing in his premise. I'm not yet resolved to agree with him 100% but I believe he argues some valid points on the "nothing is innate" side of things. To be sure, I have used the word "talent" far less frequently after reading this book in lieu of the word "skill."

The writer also presents an entire section on applying the principles of high performance to organizations. According to the book, not only should potential be identified early it should developed as a very high priority. The development of people and the cultivation of leaders combined with the forming of high-performance teams is key.

Overall, I found the material enjoyable to read and thought-provoking. He provided 10 pages of source references which, frankly, I didn't take the time to explore but helps me feel more comfortable that the author did his homework in developing his opinions.

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Reading Progress

02/19/2010 page 120

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