T Nation

Hard Work Trumps Talent


I just thought I'd post one of the blogs from one of my physics lecturers, for most of you this will probably be just a confirmation of how you already think, but I think it will be much appreciated on this site:

"Dear Student,

There is a fair amount of research-based evidence regarding success in study and work.

In this book review: "You'll also learn some things that are counterintuitive, such that you should never praise children for being smart or talented."
it's on "Nature's" webpage so probably fairly authoritative.

Here is a part of the above review which does not take too much of your time to read I hope:

The subtleties of praise, for example, are neatly illustrated by one of Dweck's core experiments, in which she divided preschoolers in two groups, both of which had to solve puzzles. After a certain time had expired, the children had to report how many puzzles they had solved. They then got praised by the experimenter. The children from the first group were praised with sentences like "You got seven out of ten! You must be very smart!", the children from the second group however heard "Seven out of ten! You must have worked very hard. You can be proud of yourself."

Of course, the real experiment began only then.

After being praised, the students were asked whether they'd like to solve another set of puzzles, and were allowed to choose either puzzles which were as difficult as the first set, or puzzles with a greater difficulty level. What did you think the kids chose? Most of the children praised for their intelligence chose the 'standard' puzzles, the children being praised for working hard chose the more difficult ones.

In reality, all children got the more difficult puzzles (after all, one should never trust an experimental psychologist), which made the 'clever' children break down and burst out in tears - suddenly they were not smart anymore. In contrast, the 'hard workers' thoroughly enjoyed themselves. When finally a third set of puzzles were given, of the same difficulty as the first set, the 'intelligent' children performed worse, the hard workers, in contrast, had improved.

==================== hard work makes the difference ! ============================

This is also borne out by the ten-thousand hour rule:

==================== hard work makes the difference ! ============================

And again: Do not, within reason, believe people who are talking about talent being the harbinger of success. Talent plays a role, which is hard to pin down. But enthusiasm and hard work offset it greatly:


So, it may well be that lots of things (supposed facts) you read, heard from parents and teachers are plain wrong. Some of you might have heard about the raging nature-versus-nurture debate. Well, often times both sides are wrong, it is a question of getting enthused by hard work and the success it entails.

If you manage to put in the hours success is virtually guaranteed...

PS: Yes, one can overdo it, there are studies on very highly performing people who get carried away and feel they are still not good enough and commit suicide:
One can, however, prove scientifically that suicide is an inefficient way of having a fulfilling life!"


I read your whole post and liked it very much. However, this statement is complete dross.


Sounds exactly like what a no-talent hack with no social life would say.


Surely the accumulation of smart hard work is what brings "talent".The harder you work the more talented you become





I noticed that many of the smart kids at school that went on to university ended up doing poorly or dropping out altogether, because it came fairly easy to them in school and some of them didn't work as hard as they kept out with the rest easily.

Having a talent and putting in hard work makes for an even better recipe IMO.

Working hard in the real world, while working for a dead-end company or boss, won't put you ahead if you don't use your brain.


Talent and hard work aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, a good work ethic IS a talent in many ways. Sure, work ethic can be developed as much as it can be an innate quality, but the same can be said about talent.

I would also argue that someone with talent (if the talent referred to is intelligence, as is the case in schooling) doesn't actually have nearly the talent or the intellect many people assign him/her if they are stupid enough to be unaware of the value of hard work and end up failing in some respect because of this ignorance.


treachery, deceit and pathological envy also trump talent
the treacherous are also quite successful in defining themselves as 'hard-workers'
you put ten-thousand hours into it, i guess you are bound to succeed
certainly going to trump anyone who put their time into constructive activities anyway


think 'grading on the curve'
you and a bunch of your mates just put your minds to bumping off the top one percent of the class and then the mediocre become the cream


the only down-side i can see to it is your grandchildren end up stuck on a dying planet, out of natural resources, and they sell one another plastic doo-dads until the end comes because no one built any spaceships


While I'm not exceedingly smart, I got by fine in school without working all that hard, except for a few subjects. I was probably one of the lazier ones.


here's a brain teaser:
if you do the right things, your kids will probably never know you saved them from doom, but they will resent you because they will have to use the same phone for two years and stuff that makes them look like they are poor

if you make the choices which please all their squeals, they will one day have lots of time on their hands to think about how this was all your fault because they can trace back to those crucial moments when you faced choices and knowingly went for the shorter-term success that radiated glory all over you for five minutes but then the prospect for the future is completely stunted


'Attitude over aptitude in order to reach altitude'

Hard work (I would define this by working hard without over exerting yourself) and being smart (I would define this as maximizing your individual potential) MAY lead you to success, but one more vital characteristic, in my opinion is good judgement; most very successful people also appear to play to their individual strengths and have at least some natural aptitude in their chosen pursuits.

Children become spoilt by not being taught any work ethic, no matter how talented we are we are all, at some point or another going to encounter some kind of adversity with which we will struggle to deal with. People who have been taught to see things through, not give up and persevere through endeavors which they are struggling with and may well have little to no natural aptitude in will obviously be better equipped to deal with these situations than someone who has never been encouraged to leave their comfort zone.


If I had kids and they wanted a $500 dollar phone I'd tell them fine, they can have it, just go mow fifty lawns or do $500 worth of odd jobs round the house and neighborhood and when you've earned all the money it's yours.


Now that stefanogym is back he needs a discussion thread with KrohDaddi.


douchebag-businessman is also a good facsimile of 'success'
douche-bag businessman gets ego needs met at other people's expense
to work best, you borrow a lot of money from family and then put on airs with everyone

your good breeding put you in the position to be able to piss money away that would have earned a higher return in a savings account
they give it to you to get you out of their hair for relatively longer periods of time
now you are better than everyone else

you need a big obtuse wall of denial in place
because you are going to trample all over a series of people
you need to get out in the open the ones who aren't going to let you rip them off
so you can waste their time and then slander them in the business community as 'not willing to work'
you insist that people return your contacts promptly or else raise hell
but leave them hanging while you conduct 'research' (looking at shit on the internet) all day
rather than get back to them about important matters (that you initiated) which would actually benefit your business
you got to pare it down to the meek who will accept that working for cash is to their benefit
then cover your business losses by insisting you already paid them one week when they put a lot of hours in

this will make your reptile self feel good even if your awake-brain isn't aware
you will feel like a success

complete the douchebaggery by putting leftist slogans in the window of your business place and
participate in marches against corporate greed and tax breaks for big money
while you dodge most of your taxes by conducting most of your business in cash
this will make you feel very superior and at the same time, victimised


Talent and hard work are both good, but the latter is volitional and the former isn't...


Hard work allows you to reach your talent level, it will not trump it.

A retard can work extremely hard, 16 hours per day and most likely will never even mop a floor correctly.

Two people of similar talent can gain an edge through hard work, assuming one slacks.

The "Peter Principle" discusses the talent vs. work phenomenon. Worth a Google search if you like the topic.


Most business "douche bags" create opportunity they hire others to participate in at an agreed upon understanding and through free will.

Successful businesses offer a much greater ROI than the market and certainly more than a fucking savings account.

Leveraging momentum and bringing others gainfully in to the fold is magic far above reptilian existence.


Dude, that is so rude. If you're going to insult groups of people on here make sure it's blind people or little old ladies or some other group that's not actually on this site.