• Michael

Talent Vs Attitude: Who are the most successful graduates?

I’ve always been fascinated by people who out perform everyone else. These people are often referred to as ‘talented’ and observing them is very exciting whether it’s watching Roger Federer winning another grand Slam or Usain Bolt setting a new world record. However, as a society, I think we place too much emphasis on talent when trying to explain how people achieve great things. There can be a danger in labeling people as 'talented' or worse ‘gifted’ for achieving something that they actually worked extremely hard for. From the research I've done in developing Hiremetrix, its become obvious to me that there’s far more to great achievements than a ‘gift’.

Natural talent or a high IQ cannot explain future achievement (Robert Greene, Mastery)

To be clear, talent, is ability that you have naturally. Attitude is to do with the way you think about something and therefore affects your behaviour, how you approach challenges, decision making etc. From research and observation, talent plays a much smaller role in the success someone has compared to their attitude. It’s easy to focus on vague adjectives like ‘talented’, 'gifted' or ‘intelligent’ when we’re not sure how someone has managed to achieve what they have. Putting someone’s success down to talent is a bit like saying ‘it was magic’. Most of us don’t see what’s gone on behind the scenes to win a grand slam or to break the 100m world record. All the years of training, strategy, diet and mental preparation can be overlooked when you're only exposed to the success.

Harsha Bhoogle, A sports commentator, gives his take on talent compared to attitude in achieving excellence.

Ability or talent is the most useless virtue to possess.

A lot of companies and recruiters advertise for ‘young talent’. When recruiters declare this they're often, indirectly, asking for 'intelligent' candidates to apply, often resorting to academic requirements as a filter. Other than being ambiguous about what they’re looking for, talent alone, including intelligence, isn’t particularly valuable. Even if these recruiters were to find a ‘talented’ person who can naturally take to the tasks required of them with minimal effort, it wouldn’t be half as beneficial as recruiting someone who is not talented but has a the right attitude and a suitable personality for the role. Finding just one suitable candidate, especially at entry level, can be a bit of a guessing game unless you implement the right filters and processes for your company.This is often expensive and time consuming which is why I'm developing Hiremetrix. The right attitude often results in employees proactively developing the skills they need for their particular role and mastering them. Talent doesn't take that initiative, the right attitude does.

Will Smith has a lot to say when it comes to differentiating between his talent and his work ethic.

I've never really viewed myself as particularly talented.... Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic

The top sales guys, the programmers that build great companies, your Roger Federers and Usain Bolts of the world are undoubtedly talented but lets not forget, they gave a lot more than just their talent and I think that's valuable to acknowledge.

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