Talent Is Overrated

Practice makes perfect. Not talent.

Have you thought about pursuing a new interest? Perhaps you wanted to do something totally different in your retirement. Maybe you could learn a musical instrument. Perhaps you could learn to paint. But then you realize, with dismay, that you just “have no talent for that sort of thing.”

Now I do agree that there has to be some level of ability and coordination to get started. I have a life-long friend who, today, laughs about dropping out of band; seems she never got past the drum pad to play a real drum that first year.

However, many of you might just be giving up on yourselves too early. Geoff Colvin speaks highly of what he calls deliberate practice. The science shows that it is time spent practicing and not special classes or teachers that made the difference.

When you focus your practice sessions on those things that need improvement, you have a winning combination.

If you don’t believe me, listen to the interview I did with my friend Jean Gauld-Jaeger who learned later in life how to paint very well:


Or you could read Francine Toder’s book, The Vintage Years, for her accounts of several people who’ve found new adventures in the arts after they turned 60.

I’d love to hear how deliberate practice has helped you. Write a comment below. ‘Til next time.

Ed Zinkiewicz

…the retired guy