What do we know about the relationship between talent and effort?
Is it ultimately more important to be able to get better at something than to be naturally good at it to begin with?
This would be an interesting conversation to have with your children and your thoughts may well be biased by your own experiences.
Research would suggest that the relationship between effort and talent is rather complex. On the one hand, there’s clearly a natural tension between both qualities; one can’t be understood without the other.
Indeed, talent is essentially performance minus effort: The more talented you are, the less effort you have to put in to reach a certain level of performance. When you are not blessed with natural talents, you need to double down on effort to outperform those that do.
Exceptional performers rarely stand out just because of their natural skills or abilities; they also tend to show extraordinary drive and motivation. We hear it about sports stars such as Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo as well as business leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – their talents are celebrated but it is their effort that exceeds all others and builds the foundation for their success.
Effort can be exemplified through ambition, conscientiousness, drive, grit and resilience. These attributes are developed over time and grow in an environment that celebrates and rewards effort.
These realizations are important considerations when it comes to reviewing your child’s progress and school reports. We encourage you to take the time to focus in on the effort they are putting in and discuss with them this important determiner of future success.