Talent


We don’t have as much control over our world as we think we do. 

Chief among our false beliefs is that anyone can be anything as long as they “work hard.”  On the surface this sounds like it has to be true, for after all don’t musicians and athletes have to practice, don’t lawyers and accountants have to stay current with industry trends and don’t barbers have to stay current with the latest styles? 

Sure, sure and sure.  But all the practice in the world cannot substitute for raw talent…or raw intelligence for that matter.  

Talent is like energy. It cannot be manufactured; only transferred.  An intelligent man remains an intelligent man even if assigned to menial tasks.  A great athlete does not stop being a great athlete just because he is benched by the coach.    

Talent can be honed, it can be improved and it can be groomed; but it cannot be created.  

This simple fact seems to be desperately ignored by our present culture.  How are we attempting to create talent in our society?  Examples abound my friends.  Let’s take something as superficial as pop music for example.  

As my kids have grown a little older, I am starting to pay attention to the music that is directed at their age group.  Most of what I see are boy bands, teen idols and the occasional weirdo.  One thing that hits me right away about most of the music today, is that these people don’t play any instruments.  Not only that, but their lyrics are simplistic rhymes that talk about ….well nothing.  

It is quite obvious to me that these “musicians” are not really musicians, but pretty faces picked out of the crowd by some promoter.  Despite all of the lessons, makeup and wardrobe, their lack of talent comes through “loud and clear.”

Now I don’t want to fall into the trap of believing that things were always better in the past and I don’t want to bore my children with, “When I was a boy…..” type stories, but there are a few easy observations to be made here.  

The popular music of my youth was derided by my elders as trash and not worth listening to (and some of it probably was) but there are some obvious points to be made about musical quality and talent.  

Contrast the boy band of today with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin who taught himself the guitar from by listening to records and went on to become one of the greatest guitarists of all time. 

Or how about a young Eddie Van Halen who received a call from Michael Jackson, threw his guitar in the back of his Ford Ranger and went to the studio to invent the guitar riff behind “Beat It” in a single afternoon.  

Now the argument could be made that these two artists also played simplistic music that did not require much skill but for Pete’s sake at least they played their instruments

Nonetheless for those that are still not satisfied with our examples of true talent, we only have to point to none other than Ludwig Van Beethoven who continued to compose entire symphonies while he was DEAF.  

No my friends, talent cannot be manufactured, created or conjured out of thin air.  Greatness does not follow a simple recipe.  You cannot take an imbecile and give him: 

  • some lab equipment and expect an Einstein
  • control of tanks, guns and planes and expect an Eisenhower
  • a laptop and some business cards and expect a shrewd businessman 

To wrap up, we have always found it strange that most people dislike and fight this concept because they find the thought that “anyone cannot be anything they want” to be simply depressing.  

We hold the opposite viewpoint.  

By insisting that “anyone can be anything”, we are cheating ourselves of the joys of the child prodigy, the superhuman athlete and the musical genius.  These individuals were the pride of towns, states and countries.  People have traditionally cheered them on and identified them as one of our own.  

By insisting that everyone is great we are instead rewarded with the imposter of greatness; consistency.  Nowhere is this concept more easily illustrated than in the case of the 1980 Winter Olympics ice hockey competition.    

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a sweeter and more exciting victory than a bunch of American college kids defeating the feared Soviet National Team.  

The Soviet hockey team was considered the world’s best at the time and they prided themselves on their years of practice, professionalism and consistency.  According to Wikipedia: 

The Soviet players were classed as amateurs, but soft jobs provided by the Brezhnev government (some were active-duty military)[4] allowed them to essentially play professionally in a well-developed league with world class training facilities. 

The American team consisted of a gaggle of college boys who had played together for a few months.  They only had talent on their side. 

Have a great weekend, 

Michael Bechara

Managing Director

Granite Consulting Group Inc

mbechara@consulgranite.com

www.consultgranite.com

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