What is Talent?

What is Talent?


Say you are a 6th grader trying out for the basketball team, and you find yourself unable to compare to some kids who know the game well and play very well. You may think, “Wow, that kid has a lot of talent!” Or suppose you are in an art class, and one kid is doing really well and drawing exceptionally. Maybe you think with a twinge of jealousy, “(so and so) is really talented. How could I ever compare?” But have you ever wondered if there is actually such thing as talent? Does it really make people really good at something?

So what is talent?

The definition of talent is “ natural aptitude or skill”. In other words, it’s something that somebody can naturally do exceptionally well, with seemingly less work involved in reaching that level. Think of it as a kid getting a better grade with less studying than a kid who gets a worse grade even though they studied more.

Even though it may seem that some people have more talent than others, it turns out that people are born with very little, if any, talents. These ‘talents’ aren’t necessarily plain skill for a task, though. These ‘talents’ take time to develop. However, that is the same with all abilities, talent or not. So what makes people who are ‘talented’ so different?

A misconception is that people tend to think that if parents are good at tennis, for example, the kids will inherit that skill and be good at tennis. However, that is incorrect. When you think about it, kids can’t inherit the experience and practice that the parents put in to get good at tennis. However, this misconception doesn’t come from anywhere. It is common for kids to be good at a skill in which the parents are too. Things like height and body mass that make parents have an advantage in tennis will be inherited through genetics, but not ability.

One thing that is overlooked when it comes to talent is the environment (the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates). Say the kid’s parents, who are good at tennis, value exercise, so they tell their kid to pick some sport to do. The kid, who has been exposed to tennis and parents who most likely talk about tennis and support tennis, will most likely want tennis lessons. When the kid gets old enough to try out from a sport, the kid may be picked for a team because he or she is a little taller, or has volunteering parents. This will give the kid more experience from an early age, making them better in later ages, creating the illusion of natural born talent because nobody can physically see all the effort that’s put into being this good.

Of course, not everyone who is good at a sport has parents who enjoy it, too. This is where genes come in(mentioned in earlier paragraphs). Genes that relate to talent aren’t about ability, but more about interest and dedication. Someone who is more “talented” than another practice more. This sometimes isn’t even a constant decision, but people who are talented tend to be more inspired and motivated in a certain skill, or sport.

Here’s another example of environment and talent working together. Say two kids try out for a basketball team. They are the same in strength, but one got a growth spurt a little ahead of the other and got picked for a small children’s team. However, say the one that didn’t get picked has this talent, as far as dedication and motivation is concerned. They would practice more even though they didn’t have a team or competition, getting tips solely from the internet. The other one has a slight interest, but wasn’t as motivated, so he did not practice outside of the children’s team. When the two kids come together and compete for a slot on a more competitive team and they are the same end hight, the more motivated one would most likely make the team. Spectators would chok the kid’s skill to be talent, because, “he wasn’t even on a team! He must be so talented.” However, what you don’t see is the kid’s practice and dedication.

But say two kids attempt the same task for the first time. If one is better than the other, people can’t excuse this as one practicing more than the other. However, it’s more complicated than that. No task is perfectly new to someone, because basic skills are repeated in different tasks. Athletic skill carries throughout sports, as well as sports sharing coordination and focus abilities to art.

Don’t worry though, because just about everyone has different experiences and “talents”. Someone who maybe is jealous of a kids art abilities might be envied by a good artist who can’t wrap their head around geometry ‘easily’ like the other kid can. Of course, this relates back to the other examples, and what you don’t see as far as practice and dedication to these skills.

Even small children, who don’t have the capacity to understand time and experience, practice. Even though this may be subconscious, a small child who prefers to scribble and doodle is still practicing art. Another very small child might not like to doodle but might like to play with “mind-game” toys.

This also proves that even if you don’t have the ‘natural’ motivation to practice, if you want something enough and force yourself to work through it, you can do the same things as a “talented” person can.


In conclusion, talented people work just as hard or even more than others, and they get a payoff for it. However, if you find yourself frustrated at a task at the beginning, just know that you can get better if you devote your time. Practice is all about sectioning time, and you can do it, talent or not. And if you are not interested in the skill but still jealous of someone’s devotion, then just remember that everyone has interests, and talent does not define you.