Distracted by Talent

talent counts twice

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Chapter 2 Review)

The author starts by telling us he quit her job to work as a teacher because she thought consulting wasn’t teaching. She opened a free teaching course then went to Oxford.

The students were around 12 years old. Some of them learned math formulas better than others while others are slower.

But some of these talented students got bad grades. Some of the slower ones ended up getting better than them because they knew they were bad and worked hard for it.

She moved jobs to San Francisco to a high school known for its smart students. She asked them how much time do they spend studying, and usually the answer were hours.

She highlighted one of the students named David Luong, who worked hard. He got perfect scores in class and he asked if he could get moved to harder classes. So he did.

He got Bs and Ds, so he tried harder to figure out what he did wrong. After a while he was one of the best in school, and got a PhD in engineering and worked at an Aerospace company.

A guy named Francis Galton (apparently Charles Darwin’s cousin) wrote a study about successful people. He said that ability and the capacity for hard work were the reasons why people were successful.

He also put in talent in the count, and Charles Darwin objected to this, because he himself isn’t very talented. He caught onto subjects slowly, and he didn’t have a very good memory.

What he was good at is observing stuff. He also said that while most people tend to put aside hard questions entirely, he would keep thinking about it so if something answers it he would know.

A person named Chia studied if people chose hard-workers or naturally talented musicians. Most people say hard-workers, but when asked indirectly the results showed that they choose naturals instead. She did the same test in the enterpreneurship field, and the results were the same.

She attended a university, and got a lot of degrees. She’s performed at a lot of famous places like Lincoln Center. She had a bit of talent, but was also hardworking to the point where she practiced hours of piano a day.

Back when the author joined her previous job at McKinsey, she got accepted along with other people who didn’t know a lot about business stuff, like surgeons and physicians.

But in a month, they passed a course that taught them everything they needed to know to jump into the job. People pay them to fix problems in the company, usually financial stuff.

McKinsey employs people through talent, and rejects people considered slow. A bunch of people criticized this method, showing how a now bankrupt company called Enron used the same thing. Enron employees tend to think they are smarter than everyone else.

They fired people who progressed slower in a short time, no matter their overall performance.

The author say it’s bad to make talent shows called “talent shows” because it highlights the word talent, so people are more biased towards talent than actual hard work.

The author then tells a story about Scott Kaufman. He’s a psychologist, and he does a lot of stuff at day, like the cello. He has degrees from various universities.

He was said to be a slow learner as a kid because of his ear infections, making him hard to listen to anything. He got placed in the special needs group.

A teacher caught onto his abilities and made him take every class in the school. He found out he is good at the cello. He practiced very hard at it, sometimes even skipping lunch and classes until he got a place at the high school orchestra.

He wanted to join the talented and gifted program with his friends, but the school psychologist said that his learning ability is slow. He applied for psychology at Carnegie-something university but got rejected for the same reason.

So he applied for the opera major instead because they don’t really look at your SAT scores, while taking psychology as a minor. He then moved majors to psychology and graduated.

So the conclusion of the chapter is, according to the author, is that “Talent is great, but tests of talent suck”. And “As much as talent counts, efforts count twice”.

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