If someone told you that you were talented what is your reaction? But what if you were told that you had just picked up that skill, that others could do it? Does it change the way you think of the compliment? What is funny is they are both compliments, yet your reaction is vastly different.
Talent can be defined as an innate, natural aptitude or inclination towards a specific activity or field. It is often regarded as a gift that some individuals possess from birth. Some believe that talents can manifest in various forms, such as artistic abilities, musical prowess, or exceptional athletic performance. I almost prefer that it is characterized by a sense of ease and proficiency, allowing individuals to excel effortlessly.
On the other hand, skill refers to the acquired knowledge, expertise, and proficiency gained through practice, training, and experience. Skills are developed over time and can be improved in any area of interest or endeavor. Unlike talent, skills are not necessarily innate but can be cultivated and improved through dedication and hard work.
When you go to see a band live in concert and the guitarist really shreds do you think he is talented or skillful? If you go on YouTube, you will find 1000s of guitarists who can shred, it is not as rare as I once believed as a kid. When you are watching your favorite sport and you see a player do something unreal, do you think how much he practiced that move? Or were they born with the ability to do that? How are you able to know the difference between them?
I mention this cause one of my favorite musicians has posted videos of him playing the guitar and keyboards at the same time. I first thought I could never do that. If you read my posts, you know there is a post about you should be responsible for your second thoughts, not your first one. My second thought, is this a skill, could I learn how to do this? I can play both the keyboards and guitar, and I am not Eddie Van Halen, Nuno, Joe Satriani on the guitar, or Geoff Downes, Keith Emerson, or Jordan Rudess on the keyboards, I am average at both.
While embarking on this endeavor it made me think more about the difference between the two. First if you are naturally talented at something, it may lead you to work on it more. Thus, continuously adding to your proficiency and observed talent. In other words, if you have a talent and work at it to build skill on top of that, this is where you are special. The musicians listed above meet that criterion. But if you have desire, work ethic, or even just challenged you can spend the time to pick up a skill. You may not be the greatest, but you could be good enough (remember perfection is the enemy of good). Often when I am afraid to do something, I need to figure out where my fear is coming from. Am I worried I will not be perfect, that I will not be the best, or that I will not put in the time to be able to do it? Once I get through the thought process, I can decide to learn a new skill.
As a manager and giving compliments to the people you report to you, using those words can be touchy. As I asked in the beginning how do you feel when you are told one over the other. If someone is told they are talented, they feel a sense of pride but also can feel a sense of expectations. If someone is told they are skillful, they can feel a sense of satisfaction that the work they put in is recognized. Of course, the downside is that they also realize other people can pick up that skill. Using the right word in the right situation with some details on why you picked the word is needed. A wise approach would be recognizing both.
While talent may provide a head start, skills can be developed and refined through dedication and perseverance. Recognizing the unique qualities of both talent and skill enables us to appreciate the diversity of human abilities and encourages us to pursue our passions with determination. Do not let the fact that something looks like talent prevent you from learning and try to find your talents and improve on them. Now back to trying to play the guitar and piano.
This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free. I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them.
This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book. With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path. I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content. I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip. I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog. AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them.