Talent, and lack thereof

I was listening this past week’s episode of Freakonomics titled “Here’s Why You’re Not an Elite Athlete” and it mentions one of those things that always leave me annoyed with the hard unfair truth of reality.

I have always wanted to believe that the only thing between you and a given goal is effort. That anyone, with enough effort, can do anything they wish to do. Sure, talent counts for something, but surely an untalented person working tirelessly could do better in the end than a talented person just skating by.

The former is obviously false. No matter how hard Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger tries, he cannot currently hold the office of President of the US. It’s that natural born citizen bit that disqualifies him. In theory a constitutional amendment might could work around it, I don’t know. I’m certainly not a lawyer, but that seems… unlikely… from where I’m standing.

The latter part is technically true, but ignores the people who are both talented and motivated. Those people can be a force in their own right and I must say that simply “working hard” is probably not sufficient to compete against them. This is one of the reasons why I stay away from eSports personally. I’m not willing, at this point in life, to put forth the time, effort, and devotion that those people do. There’s also people like Donald Thomas, mentioned in the podcast for absurd high jump performance without having trained for it. A physiological anomaly.

Of course, as pointed out in the podcast there are a lot of other seemingly random factors that go into this that are beyond our control as well. Not everyone is born into a situation where they have the opportunity to discover or engage in an activity in which they have talent. Not everyone has “an abnormally long Achilles tendon” like Donald Thomas.

At the end of the day though, you have to ask the question if “elite” or “best” is something you really want to or can achieve. It’s possible to succeed, whatever that may mean, without being number one. I’ve long since moved past the idea of being the best onto being happy, which really seems more important. The level of stress and anxiety it requires to propel me toward excellence is typically not healthy to me or the people around me. Especially not for extended periods of times anyway.

Things like the blog though, I like. I write what I’m thinking about or doing and try not to worry to much about followers and the like. Comparing myself to others, especially longer running and/or more established blogs isn’t really the way forward. It amazes me still that there’s someone actually bothering to read any of it. I’m glad they like it. The advantage for me is that it forces me to work through a thought. Makes is more solid, more real, a strange sort of transcript of internal dialogue that I can look back at later and be embarrassed by. Or maybe impressed by or proud of. Time will tell. If I could predict the future I’d be banned from casinos and lotteries and probably arrested for insider trading.

Take care y’all, you do you.

2 thoughts on “Talent, and lack thereof

  1. Being the best or number one are not the only yardstick by which we can measure our success. Being bloody persistent helps, along with the old age about throwing enough faecal matter at the wall until some sticks.

    The media is full of people who aren’t that good, but have somehow become entrenched through their own shameless and continuous self promotion. We live in a world where if you tell enough people that your are good, eventually some will believe you regardless of the reality of the situation.

    This approach can work but the price is ones dignity and self-respect but there are a lot of people about these days who function well without these personality traits, so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think it’s partially a conditioning thing. We see these larger than life people in the media and they have what people think they want and they emulate them in hopes that they’ll get it too.

      It reminds me a bit of sympathetic magic. That person/thing is associated with a desirable attribute. If I make myself more like that then I’ll be closer to that thing I want.

      So much of it is wrapped up in the individual idea of what success is though. A lot of this has to do with how my own personal idea of success has changed I think. That and most people believe they’re the ones that have it figured out. Protagonist of their own story and all that.


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