Book Review: Talent Is Overrated – What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin

TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
April 14, 2017

Talent Is Overrated – What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin is a discerning book that aims to home in on the salient differences between the very top tiers of individuals in a variety of fields and the rest.  With a rather unorthodox approach, the author poses a new theory about why so many individuals are great,  and what got them there.

Colvin delves into why Ben Franklin, Tiger Woods, The Polgar Sisters, Jerry Rice, and many others rose to become the crème of the crop.  Gleaning from them, the author also shows how individuals can finetune their personal repertoire to gain insights and learn to practice in similar fashion.

In his quest for answers within abstruse subject, the author samples various disciplines in society in his effort to get to the bottom of what ‘talent’ really means given all the talk about it.

Colvin does an reasonable job of arguing the case for deliberate practice and other ideas.  Be that as it may, the book could have used some more scientific evidence or studies referenced just to bolster the argument and bring more fuel to the fire.

Irrespective of that, though, the matter talent might boil down to the individual and their inherent mental faculties and the beliefs they themselves hold.

As the author ponders in his own words:

“What do you believe?  Do you believe that you have a choice in the matter?  Do you believe that if you do the work, properly designed, with intense focus for hours a day and years on end, your performance will grow dramatically better and eventually reach the highest levels?  If you believe that, then there’s at least a chance you will do the work and achieve great performance.

“But if you believe that your performance is forever limited by your lack of a specific innate gift, or by a lack of general abilities at the level that you think must be necessary, then there’s no chance at all that you will do the work.

“That’s why this belief is tragically constraining.  Everyone who achieved exceptional performance has encountered terrible difficulties along the way.  There are no exceptions.  If you believe that doing the right kind of work can overcome the problems, then you have at least chance of moving on to ever better performance. “[1]

That’s what most people want, a chance, an opportunity.  And why wouldn’t that opportunity be there for the taking?  It’s merely a choice.

For those that might wonder if people are really born with talent,  Colvin elucidates:

“…a hundred years later, abundant evidence showed clearly that people can keep getting better long after they should have reached their “rigidly determinate” natural limits.  The examples were not just great writers, artists, business people, inventors, and other eminences producing their best work three or four decades into their careers.  By the late nineteenth century, scientific research was showing repeatedly that ordinary people in various lines of work could keep getting better even after their performance had apparently plateau.  Typists, telegraph operators, typesetters – highly experienced workers in all these jobs, whose performance hadn’t improved in years, suddenly got markedly better when they were offered incentives or given new kinds of training.  This evidence was obviously a big problem for the you’ve-got-it-or-you-don’t point of view.”[2]

Such data is actually quite refreshing, because it shows that this is not merely an issue of being born with talent.  On the flip side, it is also not as simple as merely working hard, because most people work hard.  The main takeaway is that as long as proper practice is designed and undertaken, progress and growth can be developed in countless professions.

Given all the data collated that shows how certain individuals became extraordinary, the information presented by the author is worth ruminating upon at length.  And seeing as Colvin also gave individuals a jump-off point, the book does hold a lot of significance one way or another.

If you wish to read a book that offers value, ideas to ruminate upon which might just change your life, and also want to know what separates the top tier from all the rest,  get this book.


[1] Geoff Colvin, Talent Is Overrated – What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else, p. 205.
[2] Ibid., p. 63.
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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His own personal blog is where his personal work is shared, while serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

[Book Review] Quiet – The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Zy Marquiez
March 29, 2016

Quiet – The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is absolute fascinating read into the inner workings of the reflective introverts that populate society.

This book by Susan Cain delves into the paradigm that has been glossed over in the “Culture Of Personality”.

Cain begins the book outlining the fact that we as a society have transitioned from a Culture Of Character to a Culture of Personality, which thus left us facing myriad issues from which society still faces today.

The book even elucidates that the world personality was not part of our vocabulary until the 18th century and that “the idea of “having a good personality” was not widespread until the twentieth.”  This goes to show that this notion is quite modern indeed.

Throughout the entirety of the book the author also enumerates countless examples of research and studies that have taken place which shows the notable differences between introverts and extroverts.  Its quite intriguing considering how wrong western culture has been about introverts over the last many decades, if not longer.

Even the school system has been tailored to fit the ‘culture of personality’ rather than the ‘culture of virtue’.  That has done a great disservice to many folks, because as the book mentions between a third to a half of all people are introverts, and yet school is not only geared to push the personality paradigm, but people that are introverts get run over by the system due to people thinking there’s something “wrong” with just wanting to do work by yourself, or perhaps in a less noisy environment that fosters greater inner growth for such individuals.

In fact, the book names a few examples where parents, or people, thought something was “wrong” with a particular individual, when that was just their nature.  Not only that, but introverts, in many facets, outdo extroverts due to their nature.  It’s not that there are inherently smarter than them, its that their process is more efficient in many ways.

Ironically enough, Cain mentions how “we perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types – even though grade-point averages and SAT intelligence scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.”

Cain also covers the interesting topic of the “Bus to Abilene,” which shows people’s penchant for following others who carry out actions – any actions.

The author also covers the topic of The New Groupthink.

Within her thoughts, she gives her concerns for the system, which is constantly giving precedence for group work – “team work” – all at the expense of the individual, as it claims that ‘creativity and intellectual achievement’ only come via teamwork.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The author covers facts that tackle this rather incisively.

This has taken place because America has wholly shifted en masse unfortunately to teachings that reflect the business community, rather than what’s best for the individual.  What’s worse, Common Core will only further these agendas in order to make sure everyone’s ready to help corporations make even more profits at the expense of true learning.  Let’s digress however.

Another example of how introverts shine is how top performers are often the ones that have the solitude that they require that isn’t available in many working environments.  When freedom of interruption is available, these people overwhelmingly perform better than in environments where excessive stimulation takes place, which hinders production/learning.

Other notions examined are the one of Deliberate Practice, which can only be accomplished by being alone.  This is when not only are tasks identified by individuals that are needed to be done, but when individuals push to raise their performance whilst monitoring their progress and adjusting accordingly in order to be able to achieve what needs to be done.

This not only requires deep motivation, but can lead to incredible mastery of subjects.  It does, however, require a great commitment in many cases if one wants to achieve true expertise.

The book also covers how many extroverts were behind what took place in the 2009 economic downturn, and how introverts wouldn’t have been as careless with money.  It also covers how people tend to link velocity of speech with knowledge, but how that is a big mistake.

Group brainstorming electronically is also delved into, as well as the fear of public humiliation and how large of a role that plays a role in interactions between introverts and extroverts, how important temperament is, as well as the intricate subject of highly reactive children.  Also the topic of pseudo-extroverts is also covered.  This is important, because many people who seem rather extroverted, are in fact incredibly introverted.

If you’re a teacher, a leader, a manager, or any person that needs to know the inner workings of how introverts and extroverts interact on a daily basis, and how to take advantage of each of their strengthen, then this book is definitely for you.