Why do so many people think talent and skill have to be mutually exclusive? The talent vs skill debate doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. The two can and should co-exist to help you and others be the best they can be.
This article breaks down the source and definitions of talent and skill. I will also help you understand the relationship between talent and skill and how a growth mindset can help you be successful in your endeavors.
Table of Contents
What is talent?
Talent is a God-given gift that people were born with. Another definition of talent is a natural aptitude or skill. Skill is related to talent, as you can see by the second definition. But some people consider skills to be things that are learned and practiced over time.
Everyone is born with certain gifts! This is true for you too. Even if you feel like you don’t have any talents worthy of mentioning, YOU are gifted. You may be born with a high capacity for intelligence. You may be a naturally empathetic person. Or you may be a person who was gifted with natural athleticism.
But can a person rely on natural talent alone to succeed in something? Maybe, but likely not. We were all born on this earth for a specific purpose or calling. And often that purpose or calling will require working, practicing, or skill development in order for a person to see improvements.
People who solely rely on their talent without improving themselves with practice run the risk of decline. And there it is…trusting the process of practice is the answer. A growth mindset that sees room for improvement will take your talent to another level (more on this later). Motivation and mindset are the keys to success in turning your talents into positive results.
But too much of anything isn’t good. Over-practicing can lead to burn out and injury (when developing physical skills). Moderation and pacing helps here.
Talent plus hard work is the key to achievement in your field.
What is skill?
In our modern world, many of us see talents as innate and skills as things that are developed. I love these two definitions for skill:
- Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience.
- A developed talent or ability.
A skill is something that you work on or practice to develop or improve.
There are spiritual skills (spiritual disciplines), mental skills, emotional skills, and physical skills. And all of them are important. But the even more important thing to realize is that all of these skills can improve if you put in the effort over time.
Hard Work vs Talent
Tightening up old skills and developing new skills is hard work. There are going to be times when you’re not going to feel like working hard. Yes, take brakes from time to time. But sometimes you need to power through your feelings and do the work that don’t feel like doing. And usually, you will be happy that you stuck it out with hard work after you accomplished your goal.
This reminds me of my time as a student at Georgia Tech. I knew I didn’t want to be an electrical engineer, but I had to get to the finish line and graduate. Quitting crossed my mind many times but I stuck with it with help from my loving father. After reaching my goal of graduating with my electrical engineering degree, I was happy that I worked hard for the accomplishment.
Talent gives you a good, natural head start but hard work will take you to higher levels.
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
A growth mindset is one that constantly seeks to grow in an area with practice. A person with a fixed mindset doesn’t think that improving is possible. They believe that where they are in an area is where they will be. Therefore, they don’t put in the time and effort to develop skills. This is a very important lesson for entrepreneurs. If you want your business to improve, your organization must work hard and smart to improve in your areas of weakness. This can be accomplished with professional development and exceptional hiring — two things that we’re working hard on at my content marketing agency.
To learn more about the power of a growth mindset, read Carol Dweck’s phenomenal book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
So what wins out in the battle of talent vs skill?
Both talent and skill are important in the battle of talent vs skill. But maybe we shouldn’t put them against each other in competition. Big wins happen when talent and hard work are in harmony. Natural talents (and passions) give you a clue on which areas you should put hard work into for getting better.
But I must say… Those who humbly improve upon their talents with skill development typically beat people who don’t practice. Talent without practice will only take you so far. This is why I preach to my children to Pray, Practice, and Play — a process that can be applied to almost every area in life.
I’ll leave you with these tips:
Gratitude: Give thanks to God for your talents and skills. Without Him, nothing is possible.
Grind: Power through and keep working when times get tough. You’ll be happy that you did.
Growth: Keep looking for areas in your life and skills to improve.
Give: Teach the power of a growth mindset to others!
And have fun in the process!