What is talent? Is it learned or a gift? What is Talent “Worth”?


I stand at the easel in front of a crowd painting live. As I paint I have guests come up and say certain comments. Some hilarious, others are serious questions and wanting information or background on the piece. Some just incredible such as, “Are you painting that right now?” Really? However, I mostly hear “Man you are talented” or “You sure do have talent”. Which got me thinking: Is talent a gift? A skill? Or learned? Can talent be taught? What you decide about these questions has a huge impact on how you act, perform and operate. It’s a huge part of your identity as a creative, business owner and provider, parent etc..Open MicI have a huge appreciation for people that are really good at what they do. I have realized they didn’t get there overnight. It can be easy to assume they were just born with “it”. What is “it”? Talent? Skill?

After 26 years of doing what I have been doing I am convinced it has less to do with talent and more to do with passion and risk. That said, here is my definition of talent:

Talent (verb)- The ability and willingness to take a passion and pursue it without concern of what others say or think while taking risk in repetition until the extraordinary results emerge.

This is true whether you have a passion for digging ditches, making baskets, running a business, a home or making something from nothing.

Example: I love Gordon Ramsey’s food. I like his passion. You sit down to have him cook in front of you and he makes you an amazing meal in 15 minutes and it changes your whole perspective on food and fine dining. Then the bill of $350 comes and most people get derailed. What they don’t realize is they didn’t just have an amazing meal that took 15 minutes. They paid for an experience. They got to experience Gordon’s 30+ years of failing and risking to come up with the “way” he does things. Now, others find more value in other things other than fine dining. What I’m talking about is a person like Gordon who didn’t come into this world and say, “I’m born a chef”.

Take art for example. Some artists take 200+ hours on a piece that sells for 5k and another artist who splatters paint in 10 minutes and still gets 5k. In art, it’s subjective to the eye of the beholder. However, I’m talking, more about the process and not the end result. People look at something getting done and say “man you’re talented”. I believe the gardener that can cut a lawn, trim the bushes with ease and make it look nice and clean with little effort has as much talent as a carpenter who can walk into a family room and envision a wall unit, measure it and build it? So is it learned? Are they just “born with it”?

When people ask me about my career and when It started I just tell them “Art found me. I was going to play football, tour in a band or art.” I am more a driven and passionate person willing to risk than and artist. However, art is one of my biggest passions that I have spent time doing over and over. Creativity and art is making something from nothing, putting it on the field of the game of life for the world to enjoy, not like, to buy or to criticize. It’s risk. It’s not easy. However, it doesn’t get easier. The challenges just become larger and the courage to fail increases.

Like my definition, I believe it’s individuals that are willing to fail, risk and look like idiots while doing it over and over and over again. Talent is the “willingness” that’s what separates the good from the “great”. Risk, failures and commitment.

Thomas Edison failed at the light bulb over 9,000 times.

There is the old saying, “I’ve done so much with so little for so long that now I can do anything with nothing”. That’s talent.

The common denominator in any significant leader, inventor, innovator, singer, artist, author, business owner, parent, employee, student, athlete is passion. It is driven by an appetite for failure, for the opportunity of significant, measurable impact and influence.

Do you believe talent is something you are born with? Is it learned? How does this topic resonate with your passions?

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Have a blessed day and thanks for being a part of the journey!