December 5, 2011

Hard Work or Talent

Dennis O'Donnell

Hard Work or Talent
The New York Times recently featured an OpEd piece on the topic of Talent vs Hard Work, which you can find here:

The author’s research concludes that high IQ results in a higher likelihood of success later in life, as measured by those that “earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work.”

I believe their measurement for potential (IQ), and success (level of education, number of patents, etc) are flawed.

Judging a person’s potential and subsequent success is a complex topic less easily measured than this author’s research asserts – talent is not necessarily derived purely from IQ, and hard work factors absolutely in a person’s success.  The root of one’s potential comes from their passion – a hybrid of personal interests in life, intelligence in specialized areas, and one’s willingness to relentlessly pursue their work in the certain event of adversity.

For example, an individual who excels at carpentry may have incredible spatial or artistic intelligence, pursue his/her work tirelessly, love their craft, and become elite in their field as a result of their unique intelligence and hard work.  Still, they hadn’t received their doctorate, or been published in any scientific journals, so by the NYT OpEd measurement, they were not as successful as their scholarly peers.  Clearly, this assertion is false.

I believe it wrong to measure every working person by the same measuring stick – doctorates, published works, and patents.  The chef should be judged by the taste of his/her food, the craftsperson by the integrity of their wares, and the sanitation worker by the cleanliness of their environment.  Nearly every profession that makes up a community is invaluable to that community, and must be done with passion, hard work, and a level of specialized talent that may or may not be measured by IQ – but IQ alone absent of hard work does not make the person more or less likely to succeed in their field.

We’ve mentioned it before, and believe it fully – do what you love first, so working hard won’t feel like working at all, and don’t worry about if you’ve met the IQ requirements or are publishing a world-class patent.  Hard work and passion trump IQ every time – next time you see a great product, service, or simply an incredibly helpful employee at a company – ask yourself if they arrived there by hard work and passion, or IQ alone – it’s all the research you’ll probably need.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
-Calvin Coolidge

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