Human Potential and Talent

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Are we working too hard to measure and spot talent – branding and marking people too early?

Gladwell: Success is correlated with having a ‘broad, early base’. Specializing too soon can be problematic.

There are a body of skills you learn only if you have a broad, early base. For example, many professional athletes, in their childhood, excelled in sports other than their vocation. The other sports likely had a strong influence on their ‘natural talent’ in the vocational sport.

The best preparation for one domain is often a completely different domain.

We do a bad job of spotting early talent. Time and accuracy have an inverse relationship. Formative growth happens early. The earlier you try to spot talent, the lower your odds of success. Additionally, in the nurturing/development of that early talent, you may be damaging the overall prospect with specialization and burnout. People bloom at different ages. Runners who excel at an early age very often do not remain a top talent into their prime years.

Overly competitive environments, at an early age, are very problematic. Example: Prestigious schools. Putting a very smart child – one who is in the 99 percentile – alongside classmates in the 99.9 percentile often can discourage and demotivate the child.

Takeaway: Delay specialization as long as possible. Burnout is real and early prediction is inaccurate.

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