Re[2]: Writing in an innate talent

Subject: Re[2]: Writing in an innate talent
From: "Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 May 1995 08:46:00 -0600

But I'd say it's equally "of course" that you aren't going to succede
unless you have at least a modicum of aptitude for a field

That sort of thing was covered by the Hemmingway quote. "Talent" or aptitude or
genius (whatever word you choose to describe the unfair advantage one has been
born with) allows you to learn the skills faster. Yes, you *could* have been a
football player, had you wanted to pay the price. For those not already gifted
with physical talent this price includes lots of training, many hours spent
daily in physical skills training. There are plenty of histories of football
players to back this up (Hall-of-Famer Ray Berry comes to mind as one). To you,
it just didn't seem worth the effort. That's not a put down of you, it's just
reporting a decision you made consciously or unconsciously. Every one has
decisions like this to make as they go through life. Just don't pretend someone
or something other than yourself made them (always excepting the cases of
disease and genetic infirmity, of course).

I'll use my history as part of this. Anyone who saw my early attempts at chess
would easily confirm for you I showed no aptitude for the game at all. I
continually lost games in humiliating fashion to players who themselves weren't
very good.

Those with an aptitude for the game typically rise to the top 5% (an exclusive
club numbering in the low thousands in this country) within 5-10 years. In my
case, after 15-20 years, I've fought my way into the top 20% (a not-so exclusive
club numbering in the thousands, even tens of thousands). I'm still improving,
but the clock is running out on me. I never had the "innate talent" needed, but
I had the perserverance. The climb is harder for me than those with the gift,
but the point is that the climb is still possible for me.

Unless, of course you're arguing that one needs to be better than more than 80%
of the people practicing a given skill before one can be called good at it.

And did you ever know anyone
back in school who got great grades without working hard?

Certainly. As I said, talent makes it come faster. But the point we're
discussing is whether lack of talent makes it impossible, or just take longer.

Or the reverse, someone who tried hard and didn't do well?

That would depend on the definition of "do well." I've known lots of C+ and B
students who really tried hard. I've known no D students who tried hard. (Though
many thought they did, it generally boiled down to preferring to study other
subjects or hang out with their friends rather than try to improve that
particular grade. They had quickly decided "I just can't get this subject" and
quit trying. Again, it isn't a put-down, there's no reason people should have to
be good in all subjects, just a recognition of their decision.)

Aptitude is important!

Never said it wasn't. Just said lack of it doesn't make the job impossible.

You've also worked hard for what you've achieved.

And there's the crux of it. If you've worked hard, then it's not just a matter
of "either you've got it or you don't."

To go back to "nature" vs. "nurture": I'd say "nurture" is what makes the climb
possible, and "nature" is what makes it easy or hard.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.

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