Talent or Hard Work?

// November 30th, 2011 // Life

Recently I got an email with this article and comments. I thought it would be interesting to share and get the views of others:

I read this interesting study on whether talent or hard work counts for the most in achieving success. of course, hard work won out over talent. Here are some excerpts:

People of great accomplishment tend to be highly intelligent. Yet, the view that creative geniuses accomplish more on account of their inherent ability does not stand up. When intellectually gifted children were followed up in middle age, their creative achievements were astonishingly small according to a celebrated study by Lewis Terman. High intelligence may be necessary for creative accomplishment but it is clearly not sufficient. Achievement in most creative fields calls for a lot of work and effort. Mastery requires many years of single-minded pursuit. Music and performance arts are something of an exception where child stars emerge much more quickly thanks, presumably, to specialized talents with which they may indeed be born given that musical ability runs in families. For most other endeavors, achievement is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

The concept of genius is nothing but comforting fiction. For it helps explain why most of us do not achieve at the highest level in our chosen field: we are not geniuses. The trouble is that there is little compelling evidence in psychology for any such latent superiority. The concept of the genius may be comforting to the rest of us. Yet, it remains a fiction.But the following excerpts on IQ and financial success were also very interesting:

An interesting article by the economist Garett Jones of George Mason University on “National IQ and National Productivity,” essentially shows that a nation’s intelligence level is associated with a number of important economic outcomes. (Me: hence what is happening in Ja. with

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our educational abyss within the general population.) In the article, Jones stresses that “policymakers should include measures of national average IQ when reporting a nation’s level of human development” as at present no nation appears to do so. He also points out that one way of raising a nation’s IQ level is to allow smarter immigrants into the country. (Me: This is not a new concept, for years company’s have sought the brightest employees that they can get to increase their growth and profitability. Look at Apple. Or even IBM, worldwide as here in Ja., which has kept IBM relevant.)

Now psychologists Heiner Rindermann of Chemnitz University of Technology and

James Thompson of University College London have published a paper in the journal Psychological Science on the concept of “Cognitive Capitalism: The Effect of Cognitive Ability on Wealth, as Mediated Through Scientific Achievement and Economic Freedom.” The authors examined cognitive ability datasets from over 90 countries to show that average IQ is essentially the decisive factor of human capital and that it is really the top 5% of a country’s population – or the smart fraction - that largely impacts a nation’s wealth. The authors write that “Cognitive ability influences wealth through its effects on high achievement …” (Me: that is high achievers are generally smarter people. As the first paragraph says: People of great accomplishment tend to be highly intelligent.)

Dr. Rindermann told me that because the modern cognitive demands of work and everyday life are growing, essentially “wealth has become cognitive wealth,” and in particular “high ability wealth” or the smart fraction of the population is what matters. It is the absolute ability level of this fraction of the population that makes the difference (to a country’s wealth).

The article then goes on to speak of China — with a larger ‘smart fraction’ of people — as compared to the USA and the inevitable outcome.

Do you agree?

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