Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from EverybodyElse

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from EverybodyElse

by Geoff Colvin


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“Excellent.”—The Wall Street Journal

Since its publication ten years ago, businesspeople, investors, doctors, parents, students, athletes, and musicians at every level have adopted the maxims of Talent Is Overrated to get better at what they’re passionate about. Now this classic has been updated and revised with new research and takeaways to help anyone achieve even greater performance.

Why are certain people so incredibly great at what they do? Most of us think we know the answer—but we’re almost always wrong. That’s important, because if we’re wrong on this crucial question, then we have zero chance of getting significantly better at anything we care about.
Happily, the real source of great performance is no longer a mystery. Bringing together extensive scientific research, bestselling author Geoff Colvin shows where we go wrong and what actually makes world-class performers so remarkable. It isn’t specific, innate talent, nor is it plain old hard work. It’s a very specific type of work that anyone can do—but most people don’t.
What’s more, the principles of great performance apply to virtually any activity that matters to you. Readers worldwide have been inspired by this book’s liberating message: You don’t need a one-in-a-million natural gift. Better performance, and maybe even world-class performance, is closer than you think.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591842941
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/25/2010
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 85,192
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Geoff Colvin, Fortune’s senior edi­tor at large, is one of America’s most respected journalists. He lectures widely and is the regular lead modera­tor for the Fortune Global Forum. A frequent television guest, Colvin also appears daily on the CBS Radio Net­work, reaching seven million listeners each week. He coanchored Wall Street Week on PBS for three years. He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "Talent Is Overrated"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Geoff Colvin.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 The Mystery 1

Great performance is more valuable than ever-but where does it really come from?

2 Talent Is Overrated 17

Confronting the unexpected facts about innate abilities

3 How Smart Do You Have to Be? 36

The true role of intelligence and memory in high achievement

4 A Better Idea 52

An explanation of great performance that makes sense

5 What Deliberate Practice Is and Isn't 65

For starters, it isn't what most of us do when we're "practicing"

6 How Deliberate Practice Works 84

The specific ways it changes us, and how that makes all the difference

7 Applying the Principles in Our Lives 105

The opportunities are many-if we think about our work in a new way

8 Applying the Principles in Our Organizations 126

Few do it well, and most don't do it at all; the sooner you start, the better

9 Performing Great at Innovation 145

How the principles we've learned take us past the myths of creativity

10 Great Performance in Youth and Age 167

The extraordinary benefits of starting early and continuing on and on

11 Where Does the Passion Come From? 187

Understanding the deepest question about great performance

Afterword 207

Acknowledgments 214

Sources 216

Index 227

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Geoff Colvin has written a fascinating study of great achievers from Mozart to Tiger Woods, and he has brilliantly highlighted the fact that great effort equals great success. I agree, and Talent Is Overrated is not only inspiring but enlightening. It's a terrific read all the way through."-Donald Trump

"Talent Is Overrated is a profoundly important book. With clarity and precision, Geoff Colvin exposes one of the fundamental misconceptions of modern life-that our ability to excel depends on innate qualities. Then, drawing on an array of compelling stories and stacks of research, he reveals the true path to high performance-deliberate practice fueled by intrinsic motivation. This is the rare business book that will both prompt you to think and inspire you to act."-Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

Customer Reviews

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Talent Is Overrated 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
hwonglam More than 1 year ago
This book answers a seemingly simple question with lots of well-summarized research results from academic studies. Compared to Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers", this book is a bit more academic, but it is still very easy to read, as it is written for the general public. What started as a book on finding out what constitutes success in the business world, the book evolves into the topic of parenting at various places along the way. Our upbringing, our motivation to excel, and our focused practices to overcome our weaknesses explain more about our success than our pure intellect. Finally, although our genetic makeups don't explain who of us are more likely to be successful, there is still the unexplained question on why some of us are so much more motivated to withstand the painful process that is necessary to become successful. Perhaps what differentiates the successful from the non-successful is how much we are able to 'enjoy' or 'tolerate' the process of long hours of purposeful training and practices to become experts. For those who would like to raise successful children, this book provides recipes and the underlying principles. I was not expecting this book to be much of a parenting book when I first started to read the book. As it turns out that upbringing constitutes a big deal towards our success as adults, I have recommended this book to young parents. I also recommend Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers", which is even more readable, though less authoritative and less well-researched than this book.
coolreem More than 1 year ago
All self-help books give stories of great people overcoming their difficulties. These stories are inspiring and worth the read. But, what is it that makes the world call people talented like Tiger Woods or a Mozart? The answer is found in this book. I read the book and then bought the audiobook because I needed to listen to it everyday. The material is easy to read, and very exciting. This book is not filled with a bunch of technical jargon, but is broken down very simply for any reader. If you are on the pursuit of being great, learn what made people "talented." The answers are going to surprise you. This is highly recommended.
CrazyDocCummings More than 1 year ago
If you started out highly praised for your talent but wound up ordinary, this book will help you understand why.
Jason_Ball More than 1 year ago
It's about time this book was written. The author, Geoff Colvin, writes for Fortune and if you saw his piece called "What It Takes to Be Great" you know why it was such a sensation. Colvin shows that perseverence and practice are what set the truly great individuals in any endeavor apart.

But there's more. Colvin postulates that it isn't how hard you work, but how you practice that leads to greatness. It's the analysis of your progress (en route to perfection) that you can learn from your mistakes, improve and become great. The book uses ample real-world anecdotes and some scientific analysis to bolster this theories. In the end the book is an empowering look at what you can do to achieve greatness in your work and anything you put your mind to.

Another book I enjoyed deeply this week (I read a lot) and I highly recommend, though this one is based on the author's Harvard Business Review article, is The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Author Geoff Colvin rejects the popular notion that the genius of a Tiger Woods, a Mozart or a Warren Buffett is inborn uniquely to only a few individuals. He cites research that refutes the value of precocious, innate ability and he provides numerous examples of the intensely hard work that high achievement demands. Best performers' intense, "deliberate practice" is based on clear objectives, thorough analysis, sharp feedback, and layered, systematic work. getAbstract finds that Colvin makes his case clearly and convincingly. He shows readers how to use hard work and deliberate practice to improve their creative achievements, their work and their companies. The author's argument about the true nature of genius is very engaging, but, in the end, he makes it clear that the requirements of extraordinary achievement remain so stringent that society, after all, turns out to have very few geniuses. Colvin admits that the severe demands of true, deliberate practice are so painful that only a few people master it, but he also argues that you can benefit from understanding the nature of great performance. Perhaps, he says, the real gift of genius is the capacity for determined practice. You can improve your ability to create and innovate once you accept that even talent isn't a free ticket to great performance. It takes work. To learn more about this book, check out the following Web page: http://www.getabstract.com/summary/11399/talent-is-overrated.html
Champion More than 1 year ago
This book dispels the great myths about talent. It explains how anyone can be great. The research was exhaustive and compelling. My friend recommended listening to it on the audio version. He was so right! Listening to it had a much greater impact than reading it would have done.
JohnCouke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Offers an interesting interpretation of how people become successful, and what people to in order to practice in their given field effectively.
OliviainNJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Outliers meets the concept of deliberate practice in this book by Geoff Colvin. Not only is the work an examination of why some people achieve and maintain greatness in their field, but it also argues that the concept of natural talent is limiting in that it closes off avenues of exploration for those not deemed "naturally talented." Colvin avoids slipping into the trite equation of "hard work equals greatness", though, by exploring the psychological factors that motivate people to difficult and deliberate practice in the first place. While some might object to the idea that few, if any, can lay claim to the spark of "natural talent," the message I came away with was much more positive: that greatness is truly within anyone's grasp.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting look at excellence. Colvin made clear that pushing yourself in areas of your selected expertise or "domain" where you need work is the way you become better at what you do and that memory can be expanded. All by hard work.
EGibbings More than 1 year ago
Fascinating challenge to many beliefs, with the academic studies to back up those challenges. Useful for business, parenting, sports....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awful and worthless. If you enjoy business-speak, platitudes and simple concepts explained to you as if you were a 6th grader, then this is the book for you. While the premise of the book is true, that talent is overrated, there's nothing in this book that has not been said before by a thousand fluffy magazine articles, or that you cannot get by reading the synopsis. I was lucky enough that Barnes and Noble take returns.
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I've always believed this was true and now I know it. Talent is overrated. It does take specific practice to move to the world-class level. Thanks Geoff...
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Very Thorough analysis of the concept of practice
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Its informative but I cant say I'm REALLY enjoying it. Very reminiscent of Outliers.
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