Talent is Overrated

By: Megan Peterson


Talent is overrated… When I first found out the title of my company’s next book club read, I was a bit baffled: Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates, authored by Geoffrey Colvin. How could talent, a term that is casually thrown around so often be “overrated”? What I found out over the course of the book was very interesting.

Legends such as Tiger Woods and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – those we perceive as being the definition of talented – were really trained, sculpted and instructed on their craft, which kicked off at a very young age. Both, in fact, were heavily influenced by their respective fathers at early ages (under 5) to begin practicing. In Mozart’s case, he wouldn’t be widely regarded as a musical genius until later in life, despite composing in his youth. The point of these examples, according to the book, was to debunk the concept of natural born talent.

Instead, what the book called out, was that deliberate practice is required to being effective at any craft. In fact, the book sites that without implementing deliberate practice you may never improve in your career, from where you started on day one.

It’s certainly an interesting read. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. It talks a lot about how important deliberate practice is, and not enough time on how to deliberately practice.

So here’s what I think deliberate practice entails, specific to PR:

  • Proactively think about how you can improve at your job, each and every day. Whether that means shadowing a PR executive at work or simply triple checking your writing on a big press release
  • Ask others (co-workers, leaders, mentors, etc.) what they think you do well and what you can improve upon…and make room to practice those improvements!
  • Keep learning, as often as possible. Take PR classes, do webinars, go to conferences, etc. Never stop improving in your craft.

Megan Peterson is a Digital Communication Strategist at Tweddle Group, a Detroit Economic Club Young Leader member, a national/Detroit chapter member of PRSA and a PR volunteer for The Lake House in St. Clair Shores.