Copyright (c) 2011 Scott F Paradis

In “Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else”, Geoff Colvin weighs in on the “nature versus nurture” debate with convincing evidence that nurture and old fashioned, specialized, hard work are the real keys to great achievement. In our modern, industrialized world human ability is a scarce resource. The challenge and the opportunity for each of us is to take average attributes, apply deliberate effort, and produce extraordinary results.

Colvin points out in example after example how un-incredible people with some very focused and committed attention developed into truly gifted performers – a feat the average of us can duplicate. God given talent is not what separates the best from the “want to be’s”. It isn’t experience or inborn abilities or intelligence and memory that make some people excel. It is desire and discipline focused in a very specialized way.

The road to high achievement in every field is a challenging course. The success formula Colvin offers is: hard work, tailored to address specific needs, performed consistently (often alone) over many years (ten or more) produces extraordinary results. Deliberate practice, focused on a key lever makes all the difference. There is no resting place – great performers are always pushing the envelope seeking continuous improvement

In “Talent Is Overrated” Colvin elaborates on each of the steps to success. In short, the formula is more hard work and sacrifice than most people are willing to endure. The insight, however, is realizing that rather than seeking a shortcut, if excellence is what you desire, the way is clear. You must go through the middle; you must pay the price. For those willing to put forth the effort – the sky’s the limit.

Colvin devotes thought to applying the principles of exceptional achievement both in the reader’s personal life and most notably to improving organizational performance. So much room for improvement exists in the average organization, leveraging the concepts of high achievement can enhance a company’s bottom line immeasurably.

As truly exceptional performance demands extraordinary focus and motivation Colvin finally seeks to answer where the passion comes from. Though he stacks up the evidence to say all human beings have astonishing potential, he in fact lands back where he began. While excellence is the nurtured result of perceivable actions, and potential is inherent in our nature – passion is the seed of divine inspiration. We are after all God’s children.

Scott F. Paradis, author of “Promise and Potential: A Life of Wisdom, Courage, Strength and Will” publishes “Insights” available for free at
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