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Talent is a myth. Anyone can be the best.

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The fact is, “talent” as we know it does not exist. You can become the world’s best in any field.

Researches of the past decades proved that none of us is born with advantages. Not even in music or sports. There are scientists who were able to teach perfect pitch to anyone.

As it seems words like “talented” and “born genius” are just our tools to give us “right” to lay back and give up.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson with Robert Pool wrote a book called Peak. In it they concluded the result of decades of his scientific researches.

They take Mozart as a good example to deconstruct our view of “talent”.

Mozart

Mozart, as we were taught, was playing music and composing well before the age of 10. Wow! “Wunderkid” we say, and sulk back to the couch giving up on becoming able to do the same.

The fact is. Mozart had a great teacher right when he was born. His Father Leopold. The old Mozart conducted a conscious training. And it plays a key role in Wolfgang’s performance. He heard perfected music even before he was born and started practicing the first time he was able to. His father had a plan, and his plan worked.

“Okay but what about his compositions?” you might say. Well on the early ones Leopold’s marks are strong. Probably they are just results of him teaching his son on music theory. Of course by time, these marks fade. In his teenage years, he was already really able to compose brilliant pieces alone. But by that time he got 10 000s hours of training.

Guess the disadvantages of anyone just starting out at the same age.

Now it is your turn.

Do You want to be the best DoP/Costume Designer/Director/AD/AC/etc.?
You can be.

But the trick is hidden in the proper HOW!

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson’s conducted decades-long studies on experts and world-class performers in every sort of fields. And he discovered a pattern.

He was able to identify different forms of practicing. Ranging from “just repeating something and expecting results” up to what he calls Deliberate Practice.

This is the way to peak performance,

but a lot of things have to become true for it.

  1. It must be a field where the best performers are visibly apart from the beginners. If the subject has decades and centuries of training knowledge like in music and sports, it is the best.
  2. Needs a teacher, coach, mentor, who will provide the practice methods and feedback on the progress. Who will help to design what’s next.
  3. Constantly practicing out of your comfort zone. Deliberate practice is often not fun. You have to put in all of your efforts.
  4. Specific, well-designed goals. Aiming for “getting better” is not good here. Very, very specific and measurable is what we aim for.
  5. Complete focus, and avoiding going into automatic mode. You need to be there in the moment.
  6. Constant feedback. Aligning with these findings, continuous changes in the practice methods.
  7. The mental images of “how it is done correctly” must be developed and modified constantly to perfection. (I will place a link here when there is an article about this huge and exciting topic! =) )
  8. Focusing on improving specific aspects of the skills.

It is of course sometimes impossible to have these all, but the closest you can get, the further it will take you.

In film’s certain fields there are definitely no developed training routines and trainers available.

These fields are extremely exposed to the “ooh he’s a genius, I’m not talented” effect. Fortunately, Anders has some tricks for us in those unexplored areas as well.

  1. Identify clearly the top performers.
  2. Figure out what makes them great. What are they doing differently? What training methods did they use? You can often find these in biographies and interviews about their earlier careers. Or just ask when possible!
  3. Design training techniques and routines that will enable you to do the same thing.

If you stick with these methods for 1000s of hours. You are promised to get to the top.

In Conclusion

Forget the word talent. It is only this kind of informed effort that matters.

Without the right method, you won’t get there.
Without the effort, you won’t get there.

This is why for most of us it’s easier just to give up and say: I’m not talented.

Be the one who proves otherwise!

What did you think was impossible to learn for you? How did it change now?

We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

Cover Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

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