Natural Talent is a Sham: You Can Do Anything

The idea of natural talent is bullshit.

People love to romanticize that others were born with a certain skill they were instantly able to do.

This rational draws itself to the belief that if one is not already good at something they want to do, it's acceptable for them to not pursue it. They simply weren’t born with that natural talent.

The concept of 'natural talent' is destructive because it's so often used as an excuse for not doing.

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I believe that, in reality, we're all fundamentally capable of most things. What we get good at is where interest, internal confidence and external support overlap.

'Natural talent' is, therefore, a child's innate interest in a given subject and a lack of fear to give it a try. This is recognized by others and externally supported. As a result, confidence grows and real talent forms.

But the talent wasn't innate, the interest was.

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In ‘What to Say When you Talk to Yourself’, Dr. Helmstetter explains the fundamental sequence of mental processing that leads to the actions we take:

From the day we were born, those in our environment have been communicating their beliefs about how the World works and where we fit into it. As we began to understand this verbally (and probably before that), we began to repeat those ideas back to ourselves.

This is our ‘programming’ - what we have told ourselves over and over about our World and our place in it.

Our programming creates our beliefs about what's possible and what we are capable of.

These beliefs then affect the attitude we have about general issues in life.

Our attitudes are responsible for what we feel in a specific situation and those feelings determine our physical behavior, the actions we take.

The full sequence is Programming -> Beliefs -> Attitudes -> Feelings -> Actions (this concept is taken further in the book, which I highly recommend).

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When I apply this process to my own actions and abilities, it seems to hold up.

When I started woodworking at a very young age, I was not talented at all! I was merely interested, imaginative and liked hammering pieces of wood randomly together.

I very specifically recall being repeatedly told about and encouraged for my talent in building, even before I truly identified with it. As a result, I believed it to be true and exerted extreme confidence in creative endeavors.

I didn't hesitate to start new, bold projects and over time became fairly skilled.

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The take away here is that lack of natural talent is not an excuse to keep yourself from a desired skill. Anything is learn-able if the want is there.

The want is undeniable - either you want to draw or write or learn astrophysics or you don’t.

You then either believe or doubt whether you can. If  you believe you can, you pursue it with confidence, move beyond the pain period and into the realm of competence and, if you continue, even mastery.

If you doubt whether you can, you walk around talking about other people’s talent while totally neglecting your own.

It's a choice and it's up to you.

Don't just read, take action!

  • Make a list of things you'd like to do and why you want to do them.
  • For an item you feel strongly about, isolate the reasons why you haven't started from every angle. How have your beliefs been preventing you from progress?
  • Find an in. Pick a barrier, no matter how small, and start making progress on it.
  • Here's a personal example - it helped decide to start making even a small amount of progress by stretching each morning

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