Talent vs. Hard Work

Ria Mitra


Talent is defined as a natural aptitude for a certain skill - emphasis on natural. The supposedly innate value of a person’s expertise in something makes it all too easy to dismiss their accomplishments as something they don’t need to work hard for. Yes, it is true that possessing a natural talent at something is a great advantage and bolsters a person’s ability, but talent must go hand in hand with hard work in order to be truly successful, whereas hard work alone is enough to garner that same success. 


Have you ever heard someone being told how lucky they are to be good at something, such as drawing or singing? The notion that someone’s skill is just a result of the talent they were fortunate enough to be born with is not entirely untrue. One benefit of having natural talent is that it makes you more prone to quick learning and cultivating your skill in a short time. Cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Meinz conducted a study in which a group of people who had already spent time developing certain skills was measured against a group of people with higher IQ’s, who had never practised these skills before. Before long, the second group of people progressed to a skill level near to that of the people who were well-practised, proving that being ‘smart’ is, in fact, a very useful thing to inherit and boosts one’s capacity to improve. Obviously, mental intelligence is only one form of talent, and not being naturally ‘smart’ in no way limits the possibilities of what one can achieve, but talent does provide a foundation on which to further refine skills. Moreover, talent is an extreme motivator which then leads to hard work, because if someone is successful at something the first time they do it, they are likely to continue. For instance, the amount of musical instruments I have picked up in my life only to soon put them down again after making no improvement and realising that I simply am not gifted when it comes to music, is proof in itself that talent is a driving force behind ambition. Had I noticed any immediate indication that I was at all musically talented, I may have been encouraged to keep going. Likewise, if somebody stumbles upon a skill which they have talent at, the fear of ‘wasting’ said skill will push them to expand upon it, fueled by the knowledge that their talent provides a head-start above those who are relying solely on hard work.


Moving on, it’s impossible to deny that though talent is nice to have, in almost all cases it can be trumped by hard work and dedication. The classic story of the tortoise beating the hare is an analogy for a very commonplace issue, in which excessive talent leads to complacency. Those who feel the need to compensate for their lack of talent by working day and night, with willpower and tenacity, are more likely to win the race due to their desire for improvement. Talent can only take someone so far, and if someone has talent but fails to work hard, they will not advance beyond a certain limit. What’s more, hard work is generally a sign of passion and enjoyment of what one is doing, meaning the individual is willing to stop at nothing to improve, and their drive will not dwindle due to something as simple as boredom or apathy. Passion leads to a good attitude, and a good attitude is not something to be undervalued. All it takes is one look at people at the top of their field, such as Serena Williams or Bill Gates who, despite being talented, had to amass years of persistence before making it to where they are today, to see the power of hard work. 


So, yes, I believe that talent plays a large part in success, but ultimately it means nothing when no work is put in. Not that success is as simple as just talent and hard work - a person’s environment and upbringing play just as big a role. Although it’s a depressing thought, there are so many people out there who have both the talent and the work ethic, but they lack the wealth and resources, supportive home, or social status that would allow them to live up to their full potential. But for those of us fortunate to have the resources, we need to put maximum effort into everything we do to set in place a culture of ambition and perseverance.