The debate between Talent vs Hard Work can be argued from numerous angles, and everyone has their own opinions. But I my mind this comparison can be seen in terms of singular short term output, and long term aggregate output. And ultimately, hard work is a greater force that increases your chance of you experiencing success.
Talent is Singular, Hard Work is Universal
In terms of purely a short term singular output, talent will always trumps hard work. We all know this feeling where no matter how hard you try, there will be some guy that just does it better. I remember on my maths class in high school there was a guy that could calculate in his head quicker than I could read the equation. We are given different hands in the game of life, and these natural abilities can dictate the probability of immediate success.
However, what defines a person’s achievement that truly has weight is determined through a longer term, multi-output. When talent is recognised from a young age, parents deprives the child of the chance of exploration in other interests. The child is taken to special classes after school, seek scholariships or even drop out to pursue their talent full time. This causes the their talent to become their entire identity. Any attention, praise or success leading to personal value will be attach to the talent.
Meanwhile the hard workers has been slowing moving forward even though they might not have enjoyed seeing their peers progress beyond their field of view. But their minds are sharpened as they grind though the rough experience of struggle. Because of this, hard workers has mental strength that can carry over to any career they choose. They know the feeling of being clueless, yet they tasted progress and development. As a result they acquired crucial skill; consistency, discipline and grit.
The difference in talent level paves a path that greatly shapes contrasting life experiences. To visualise the effect on success, lets use the talented basketball player vs a untalented hard working basketball player.
The chance of success is differentiated by two factor; relative probability and success subjectivity.
The chance of the hard worker becoming successful is higher simply because of probability. The talented basketball player puts everything in his life to pursue the career in basketball which is a limited market with extreme levels of competition. Higher you climb the significance of the talent dilutes in correlation. A talented college player is a average player in the NBA. This can be devastating for the individual as you become a shadow in the arena that they were once the hero. And as he has been hyper focused in a singular skill, it is difficult to change careers especially when the skills are niche as Basketball. Moreover, because he has been talented since the beginning, he never had to blindly go into a area that he has no natural talent at. It becomes frustrating to experience embarrassment of inferiority which deters them to step into a completely new field.
Conversely the hard worker may only aspired to play on the college team. It may take him 4 years to get to play in the team. But once graduating, he will have a cognitive skill that will be transferable in any career he chooses. In his pursuit of making the team he tasted the joy of progress and accomplishing a goal that objectively may seem small but subjectively brings great satisfaction. That experience will give him the confidence to pursuing careers that he might not have the skill currently. He knows that as long as he keep at it, he will get better. Therefore, by having more options of careers that he can potentially be successful, and having the ability to adapt to new environments means he will have greater number of opportunities to become successful.
Secondly the definition of success is subjectively different between the individual. For the talented, the more talent you have the higher you set your goals. For the talented his definition of success is playing in the NBA. This is means that anything other than reaching the NBA in his mind a failure. NCAA players have a 1.2% change of getting into the NBA, then their chances of “perceiving” as failure is 98.8%.
The hard worker is conservative in measuring his capability in Basketball He set his goals to represent the college team and with enough hard work there is a high likelihood he will make it. This humble mentality nurtures an important mindset of setting achievable goals. And as his definition of success is much realistic he gets to experience success periodically which drives a positive feedback loop. The type of success that society acknowledges is a built with series of small successes that people will never see. Yet becoming a serial mini achiever is what eventually builds permanent greatness.
I am not saying that hard work is superior, in the end it is not a black and white argument. Obviously the ideal is to have both talent and hard working mentality. What’s important here is that that even your hard work doesn’t take you far in a career, don’t feel that you wasted time. Your experience will equip you to find your passion and success. Do not value yourself in a singular output. Become a serial mini achiever, and you will be surprised how far that ride can take you.