Hard work beats talent

Good morning, %FIRSTNAME%.

This comes from Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit.

If someone asked me what’s more important: talent or hard work, I’d probably say hard work.

But do I really believe that? Part me of me likes the idea that some people are ‘meant to do this’, and that maybe it makes them superior at their skillset (ie. I’d probably rather the surgeon who was a child prodigy than the one who finished year 12 at the age of 25, even though they are both qualified).

Researchers tested this by using two recordings of a violin recital and telling the listeners the musician was either ‘naturally talented’ or a ‘hard worker’.

The listeners were otherwise blind, with no video or any ability to see them play.

⅔ of the respondents picked the naturally talented recording as the best.

However, the same recording was played for both groups.

So while we extrinsically value hard work, many people intrinsically think that they either have it or they don’t.

However, the research then proved them wrong again, by creating an equation looking at talent, effort, skill and achievement.

Talent x effort = skill

Skill x effort = achivement

Essentially, this states that:

Talent x effort x effort = achievement, or:

Talent x effort^2 = achievement

The effort is exponentially more important than talent.

Talent is only important when the effort is similar (either high or low).

This explains partly why talented junior athletes are so advanced, but the margin closes as they age.

Some less-talented athletes might even overtake them, with sufficient effort.

Most importantly, it shows that with sufficient effort it is possible to become good, even with a seeming absence of talent.

Tom Fitzgerald