Is Talent Essential to Greatness?

Updated: October 22, 2011

Corbett Barr

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Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. - Theodore Roosevelt
Think about your role models and the people you admire for a minute.

If you had to describe all the qualities that contributed to their greatness, what would your list include?

For example, take Lady Gaga. She's someone millions of people might consider a role model. She's reached the top of her game in just a few short years.

What qualities led Lady Gaga to her greatness? Certainly she's dedicated, focused, creative and passionate. She also has an obviously strong belief in herself and her abilities.

What about her talent? Is she a gifted musician, singer and performer?

Gaga is described as having been a child prodigy on the piano, starting at four years old, and writing her first piano ballad at 13.

If she started at four, you can imagine she got thousands of hours of practice in. There's no question she's a talented singer and pianist (here she is at age 19 playing an NYU talent show), but is the talent what enables her success and massive following?

Could Lady Gaga be who she is without having been a child prodigy on the piano? Could practice alone have been enough (along with the dedication, focus, etc.) to propel her to greatness?

Can talent be trained? Can someone without natural ability practice enough to compete at an expert level with someone who is "gifted?"

What do you think? Is talent essential to greatness, or can dedication and practice overcome a lack of natural ability?

We'll be working on answers to those questions and more here at Expert Enough. Get email updates from us to follow the conversation. Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

Photo by Hani Amir

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