“Excellent.”—The Wall Street Journal
Talent Is Overrated – Since its publication ten years ago, businesspeople, investors, doctors, parents, students, athletes, and musicians at every level have adopted the maxims of Talent Is Overrated to get better at what they’re passionate about. Now this classic has been updated and revised with new research and takeaways to help anyone achieve even greater performance.
Why are certain people so incredibly great at what they do? Most of us think we know the answer—but we’re almost always wrong. That’s important, because if we’re wrong on this crucial question, then we have zero chance of getting significantly better at anything we care about.
Happily, the real source of great performance is no longer a mystery. Bringing together extensive scientific research, bestselling author Geoff Colvin shows where we go wrong and what actually makes world-class performers so remarkable. It isn’t specific, innate talent, nor is it plain old hard work. It’s a very specific type of work that anyone can do—but most people don’t.
What’s more, the principles of great performance apply to virtually any activity that matters to you. Readers worldwide have been inspired by this book’s liberating message: You don’t need a one-in-a-million natural gift. Better performance, and maybe even world-class performance, is closer than you think.
Book Review by Coop
I read this book several months ago, and have had time to digest it’s message, which is essentially what the title says. I agree with it on many fronts that dedicated hard work leads to excellence. However, I do believe that “talent” does exist, and cannot be duplicated simply with hard work. For example, my singing voice is awful. If I dedicated my whole life to singing, it might go from awful to tolerable, or perhaps a bit better, but I’d always be the nitwit on the X Factor who goes on and the judges make a face like they just drank a shot of lemon juice while I’m crooning away. And likewise, I ran spring track in high school, and one year in college.
And I’ve more or less jogged 2-3 times a week for a few miles at 10 min pace since (I’m now 34). However, when I lace up my shoes at a local 5K, I can still crank out 5:45ish miles and soundly beat many people who have cumulatively trained much harder for much longer than I have,even if I haven’t run a sub 6 min mile in over a year. Not that I am the best in the world, because I’m not, but that is talent. That is something that most people cannot do if their lives were dedicated to it.
Let’s face it that dedicated hard work will produce top results. I agree with that. However, if you take two people, one with a natural aptitude towards something, and another without that aptitude, if both people put in the same exact dedicated hard work, the one with the natural aptitude will always do better. It’s just a fact.
So my bottom line review of the book is that it will make you think, and realize that dedicated hard work is what all people do who excel in a particular endeavor. However, it’s not fair or accurate to say that we can all be great at anything other than the obvious would preclude us from (a 6’10” person trying to be a gymnast, or a 4’10” person trying to be in the NBA). I think a better title for the book would be “Talent Will Only Get You So Far”.
Yet, with that said, it is a book worth reading, as it will make you realize that people who are good at something are good because they have paid dues beyond what the average person is inclined to do
“A profoundly important book.” —Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind
“What an exciting book!” —Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution
“I rejoice! What Geoff says comports totally with my own experiences in sports, law, and business.” —Herb Kelleher, founder, Southwest Airlines
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About the Author
Geoff Colvin, Fortune’s senior editor at large, is one of America’s most respected journalists. He lectures widely and is the regular lead moderator for the Fortune Global Forum. A frequent television guest, Colvin also appears daily on the CBS Radio Network, reaching seven million listeners each week. He coanchored Wall Street Week on PBS for three years. He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Originally published: 16 October 2008
Genre: Self-help book