LA 024: How to find your talent, practice it and achieve greatness
It was 4.30 on a cold and wet morning and I was choking on the stench of thick layers of years old grease behind the deep fat fryer and I was ecstatically happy as I scrubbed and cleaned the once white tiles back to their original gleaming brightness. It was my first day on my first proper job and I would soon be delegating this filthy work to some other poor sap who similarly wanted to become a chef de cuisine. In the meantime, my job was to scrub, peel, haul, carry, chop, clear and clean it all up again. The head cook (for in the mid 1970's we had few "Chef's" as that was far too French and suggestive of "haute cuisine") had agreed to take me under her wing and teach me how to prepare the only famous dish to come from England and clogged the arteries of its working classes: The Great British Breakfast. Putting talent in perspective
Talent is often misunderstood. Business leaders are obsessed with finding it, keeping it and banking their succession on it. They recruit the top students from the best universities, promote them quickly, reward them lavishly and label them as talent.
Talent is often misunderstood. Business leaders are obsessed with finding it, keeping it and banking their succession on it. They recruit the top students from the best universities, promote them quickly, reward them lavishly and label them as talent. Then there is surprise at the realisation that: More than half the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies averaged a C or C- And more than 50% of the world's millionaire entrepreneurs never finished college Let me clarify, I am not anti-talent. I believe that we should seek our talent and we should put it to work. But talent alone, is not the answer to leadership succession, productivity and a growing economy. Everyone has talent I was 15 years old as I crouched behind that deep fat fryer and about to discover my talent but first I had to serve my time and observe Mrs Brown at her work as closely as possible whilst simultaneously keeping out of the way of her sharp knives and even sharper tongue. Once allowed, I soon mastered the fry-up served with tea and slices of Hovis with thick butter. I was cocky with my demonstrated obvious talent, but was soon cut by Mrs Brown's sharp tongue as she remarked:
"Anyone can cook. It's just that not everyone should."
Her simple wisdom is true in all walks of life: Today, watch any "talent" show on TV and you'll find plenty of contestants who would do well to follow Mrs Brown's advice in their own dream pursuit. Anyone can sing, but not everyone should. So how do you know if you should? It's not simply a case of doing something, it's doing something exceptionally well and enjoying doing it. That's an "and" not an "or". I knew that I thoroughly enjoyed cooking but it takes others to tell you if you do it exceptionally well. When you find out what that is, then you've found your talent. And everyone has something that they do exceptionally well and thoroughly enjoying doing. Develop the talent you have, not the one you want When I ask if you know what your talent is, you may struggle to identify it. You may not be an exceptional musician or artist, actor or even a sports person. These are the types of things we traditionally associate with the word "talent". You may think I'm referring to your job. It could be and I hope that your job does enable you to use your talent, but the chances are that you are unsure, and probably too humble to realise that you really do have talent. But I can assure you that you do. The 10,000 hour rule
The 10000-hour rule is the idea that we have to deliberately practice any activity for at least 10000 hours before we are great at it
Malcolm Gladwell based his 10000 hour rule in his book Outliers on a study by Anders Ericson that it takes 10000 hours of deliberate practice to become great at something. Such 'greatness' is often confused with the "talent" that enables it. For your talent is rarely manifest as something great, usually, your t