Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Guide to Defining, Identifying and Cultivating Talent

July 2012 Book Review

Talent is Overrated
Geoff Colvin

The road to finding great books can be strange sometimes.  I honestly don’t remember how I came across this book.  I’ve read a number of different books that studied the science behind talent and great performance, but I’m not sure why I had not come across this one earlier.  As of July 2012, I’m going to say this is the guide book to understanding talent’s origins and how to evaluate and cultivate it.  I can’t remember the last time I took so many notes in a single book.  This book brings The Talent Code, Drive, Mindset, Flow, A Whole New Mind and even a little of Imagine into a format that’s simple and useful.  Colvin outlines principles for defining, identifying and cultivating talent, not only within our personal lives but for our organizations.  It’s crazy to see what we’ve been taught to believe about talent and its origins.  Colvin debunks dozens of talent myths and outlines a thoroughly researched framework.  He examines the myths of intelligence, memory and youth being tied to higher achievement and methodically defines “deliberate practice.”  In the remaining portions of the book, he ties these principles to innovation and outlines the sources of the passion necessary to achieve such high performance.  This is one of the best books I read in a while.  As technology and neurology continue to advance, I expect we’ll continue to see other myths in success and performance crumble.
Here are a few of the better quotes and passages I came across:
“Great performance is in our hands far more than most of us ever suspected.”
“most of the people who became extremely good in their field did not show early evidence of gifts.”
“Ambitious parents who are currently playing ‘Baby Mozart’ videos for their toddlers may be disappointed to learn that Mozart became Mozart by working furiously hard.”
“”It seems our view that intelligence necessarily produces better performance is so deep that it may occasionally even blind us to reality.”
“The difference between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”
“Every field has classic guides that will always repay study, just as linebackers will always benefit from leg presses.”
“The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but about the process of reaching the outcome.”
“Inspiration will strike when it’s good and ready, whenever that may be; and if you want a creative solution to a problem, you’d better find someone who knows a little about the situation but not too much.  Those beliefs, though they seem to be supported by evidence, will steer us wrong.”…”creativity isn’t a lightning bolt.”
“We know that great performance comes from deliberate practice, but deliberate practice is hard.  It’s so hard that no one can do it without the benefit of passion, a truly extraordinary drive.”
Top performers’ definition of motivation:  “progress toward their goals, which is what they really care about.”

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars