Does Talent Exist? Practice, practice, practice – the 10,000 hour rule

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By Samah Qaderi

I think everyone is born with a chance to be great. Talent – the special natural ability or aptitude to be good at something – is not reserved for the few and far between.

To quote former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor, “There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent doesn’t exist, we’re all equal, as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top and that is that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.”

Many of our favourite cultural influencers were average before they were great. What sets them apart from the crowd and unites them as leaders in their disciplines is the dedication of time they pour into practicing their craft. For example, in a 2007 interview with TIME Magazine, Bill Gates spoke about being a high school student and sneaking into the Department of Physics at the University of Washington after hours to access a computer, stating that “bumming computer time” was the “highlight of our high school years”.

Both Mr. Gates’ and Mr. McGregor’s actions appear to support the 10,000-hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book titled Outliers. Originally proposed by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, the theory states that 10,000 hours is the required amount of time to achieve mastery within a field. To quote painter Bob Ross, “I really believe that if you practice enough, you could paint the ‘Mona Lisa’ with a two-inch brush.” Ross, known as an expert, believes that his own level of talent can be equalled or surpassed with practice.

Practice essentially translates to time. According to statistics from a 2010 Radiolab podcast titled “Secrets of Success“, children born within the last 3 months of the year are approximately 9-10% less likely to go to college. With the academic year starting in September, students born prior to October have had almost an entire calendar year to develop their skills and abilities as compared to their late-birthday classmates. Compounding this time over the course of several years, children born in late fall will have had to “catch up” with their cohorts as they have had “less” time to develop, grow and master different skillsets.

No one is born talented but anyone can become an expert if they’re dedicated. So don’t let a bad day or unlucky circumstance hold you back. Keep a steady pace and exercise your passions and obsessions until you get to where you want to be.

About the Author: Samah Qaderi is a grade 12 co-op student at Guelph Arts Council. He currently attends Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute. He is passionate about the arts, and enjoys making music, writing poetry, and drawing. Alongside his artistic skills, Samah enjoys playing football and soccer. Samah is a true delight to have around the office and has been helping GAC get organized for our signature events, including the upcoming Art on the Street happening June 22nd.

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