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Talent Vs. Hard work

August 5, 2013

men-s-hard-work-beats-talent-when-talent-doesn-t-work-hard-t-shirt_designWhat is better? Talent or hard work? Who works harder? Who’s more talented? I don’t know what your story is, but here’s mine.

I have no talent. I am musically talent-less. Or at least, I was when I first started playing guitar. At age 12, I was completely tone deaf and had no rhythm what-so-ever. I was the kid that everybody would either laugh or sneer at when I couldn’t clap on beat during school plays or choir.  My parents thought it was crazy that I was even trying to learn guitar. They thought it wouldn’t last and that I would give up (and they had great reason to!). But eight years later, guitar is my absolute favorite thing in the world, my biggest strength, my source of joy, and I’m pretty good at it too (I’m not saying I’m the best, just that I’m not horrible). If you want “proof,” you can hear me play here.

How did I go from a tone-deaf, rhythmless kid (possibly suffering from a disorder called amusia) to a multi-instrumentalist that can sing, write, and play just about anything with strings on it (mandolin, banjo, cello, piano, etc)? The answer is simple. Hard work. I’ll say it again just to be clear. Talent had nothing to do with it. All my musical success (what little I may have) comes from hard work and nothing else.

Is “talent” worth anything? Maybe, but I’ve seen too many “talented” people that never learn anything beyond three/four chords. Their expression is limited. I’ve seen “talented” people that never even bother to pursue their talent. The biggest problem with talent, is that it usually produces laziness and nothing more. The phrase “talent” seems to imply that you either have it or your don’t and that there’s nothing you can do to get it. It also implies that talented people never had to work for it. Last time I checked, no matter how “talented” someone is, handing them a guitar for the first time has never resulted in instant Eddie Van Halen. That only comes with practice/work.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes about talent from Kevin Durant’s childhood mentor, Taras Brown.

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

As far as I’m concerned, talent can go jump off a cliff.

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