Talent Is Overrated:What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else

Winner of the Henry Longman Award – Best Business Book of 2009

Readers around the world are embracing the message of Talent is Overrated. Business leaders, teachers, attorneys, entrepreneurs, students, coaches of many sports – all have felt the power of this book’s message in their own lives and have found exciting new ways to get better at what’s most important to them.

Some of the strongest responses have come from parents, many of whom have said, “I want my kids to read this book.” It has become a popular graduation gift.

How come? Because the book tackles deep questions, such as: Why are some people – Warren Buffett, Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Rock – so incredibly accomplished at what they do, while millions of others in those same fields never rise above mediocrity? Why are some people so extraordinarily creative and innovative? Why can some continue to perform astoundingly at ages when conventional wisdom says it’s impossible?

Almost all of us think we know the answer to those questions: The lucky few superperformers were born with a special gift, an innate ability to do exactly what they do so extremely well. But Geoff Colvin found that we’re mostly wrong. A growing body of scientific research shows that it isn’t so – that specific natural abilities don’t explain great performance.

Instead, the key is what researchers call deliberate practice – but beware, because it isn’t what most of us do when we think we’re practicing. It’s a well-defined set of activities that world-class performers pursue diligently. More of it equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.

The surprising reality about great performance presents big opportunities to us and our organizations. Most organizations are terrible at applying the principles of great performance; by becoming better, they can achieve significant competitive advantage.

Individually, most of us don’t take advantage of these principles nearly as fully as we might. Using them, we can become much better at anything we do.

Most profoundly, the research on great performance reveals a liberating truth. High achievement isn’t reserved for a preordained few. It is available to us all.