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America’s Got Talent or America’s Got Hard Work?

America’s Got Talent or America’s Got Hard Work?

Have you noticed that there’s a current trend about having talents? One obvious example is the mega-hit TV show America’s Got Talent, which regularly attracts an audience of up to 14 million viewers.

This show is not just popular in America, however. Hugely successful versions of it can be found in countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.

I’m sure you’ve seen at least one episode of the TV show, so you’ll know the format: lots of unknown people performing entertaining and sometimes unique acts (e.g. dance, magic and songs).

As the name of the show suggests, the judges are looking for people or acts with an abundance of talent. For the average viewer at home, it’s easy to believe that talent is all that is needed to get on the show – and to potentially become rich and famous.

However, the reality is somewhat different.

Are We Putting Too Much Emphasis on Talent?

These days, people are quick to praise a person’s natural talent.

It’s as if people believe that natural talents count for more than skills developed over months and years. For instance, when watching a gifted sports person you’ve probably thought to yourself just how awesome they are.

And then there are the famous IQ and aptitude tests – which quickly separate the elites from the masses. (Companies choose to hire those with natural talents.)

Just take a look around at the news. Whoever has any major achievements will receive praise from the media and public for being so talented.

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The problem with this, is that talent gets continually put into the spotlight, while the real causes of success – effort and persistence – is seldom mentioned. This leads the majority of people to think that the only way to succeed in life is by having a strong or unique natural talent.

The present heavy focus on talent could be preventing a lot of people from achieving success.

    Don’t believe me? Just watch any of the current crop of dancing and singing contents. The majority of the time the judges will simply comment on skill and talent, and rarely (if ever), judge someone on how much effort or time they have put into learning something.

    This constant repetition of talent over effort is the cause of faulty beliefs, such as:

    • When someone is being praised for having talent, they may begin to rely on their talent, and stop putting in more effort to improve.
    • On the other hand, someone who’s been told they’re not talented may begin to doubt their own abilities, and believing that they aren’t talented they stop trying to develop.

    It’s easy to see how people can fall into the above traps, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    For example, think about Celine who got on the show. Was her success really just because of pure talent? Or could it be that for years she practiced and studied?

      In most cases, behind the natural talent, you’ll find people have also put in significant time and effort into developing it.

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      So, to say that someone is “talented” actually rudely neglects all the effort they have likely put into doing what they do. It’s a bit like an iceberg. We only see the visible part of the iceberg, while the bulk of the iceberg remains invisible to us below the water.

      And then there’s the problem of people using talent as an excuse to do nothing. You hear it all the time: “I just don’t have talent in that area, so why should I bother competing with people who do?”

      In the above case, talent becomes a self-made wall that blocks people from reaching their true potential… which is on the other side of the wall.

        It’s Really About the Effort You Put In

        For sure, there are such things as natural talents. These are the inborn abilities that we are gifted from our family’s gene pool. It’s the same reason why some people are small, and some people are tall.

        Everyone of us has unique talents and abilities. You may remember from school how some of your friends could ‘naturally’ jump higher or run faster than you. And if you ever did gymnastics or martial arts, you’ll have seen the wide-range of natural flexibility that people exhibited.

        People’s unique talents and abilities don’t have to be obvious either. For example, over the years I’ve come to realize that I read much quicker than the average person. However, unless you and I participated in a speed-reading contest, then you’d probably remain blissfully unaware of my talent.

        But forget what you’ve been told. It’s not a talent race. It’s about the effort you put in.

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          Hidden behind every so-called talented person is a great deal of effort and persistence. For example, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “having no original ideas” and “lacking imagination”; Michael Jordan locked himself in his room and cried, after being dropped from his high school basketball team; and Oprah Winfrey actually lost her job as a news anchor after producers said she “wasn’t fit for television.”

          Despite their individual setbacks, these three people went on to be tremendously successful, and of course, world famous. Looking back on their careers now, most people would assume that Disney, Jordan and Winfrey were blessed with natural talents. The truth, however, was very different. Sure, they were talented, but it was their efforts that really set them apart from the pack.

          Here’s how to discover your own unique talent and make it your biggest strength.

          1. Locate your interest

          People are much more satisfied with what they do, when they do things that match their personal interests. Ask yourself:

          • What do you care about most?
          • What do you enjoy doing the most?
          • What is the thing that you can’t bear at all?

          Then, spend some time narrowing down the options, until you find your key interest. And, if after this exercise, you’re still unsure what you’re really into, try doing different things.

          For instance, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Rowdy Gaines knew from a very young age that he loved sports. When he reached high school, he tried baseball, basketball, football, golf and tennis before settling for swimming. In other words, he kept trying out different things until he found something that he fell in love with.

          2. Build your strengths

          Once you’ve set your heart on a particular interest, think about whether you have the basic skills to make a success of it.

          What skills do you need to be equipped with? What skills and knowledge can you enhance? What other areas could you improve upon?

          Let’s say that you’ve determined that your interest is in singing. To have a chance at success, you’ll need to invest regular amounts of your time in practicing singing. You’ll also probably want to enlist the help of a singing tutor.

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          3. Get feedback and improve

          Once you start building up your strengths, you should turn to others for feedback.

          This is where a good tutor comes in. They can tell you where your weaknesses are, and how you can improve them. They can also offer you valuable support and encouragement as you develop your knowledge and skills.

          The high-achievers in life never stop learning. They continue to look for new ways to improve and keep reflecting on what they can do better. Instead of shunning feedback from others, they actively seek it. And then use this feedback to help them keep improving.

          Effort Will Get You Much Further Than Talent

          Great accomplishments don’t come simply from talent; instead, they come from immense effort.

          It’s this hard effort and persistence that separates the losers from the winners. The former just find it too easy to give on the road to success. While the latter make sure they reach their destination.

          I really hope this article has opened your eyes to the root causes of success. And if you need any help keeping going towards your goals, then check out one of my previous articles: The Only Time That Change Doesn’t Make You Better

          Find your interest. Dedicate yourself to it. And discover a life of success that you never thought was possible.

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

          How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success how to start over How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide) Do You Know Your Motivation Style?

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          Last Updated on June 1, 2021

          10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

          10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

          The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

          If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

          The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

          1. Analyze Your Learning Style

          Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

          Is your memory associated to sound?

          Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

          If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

          Do you relate information to visual content?

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          If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

          Are you a physical learner?

          If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

          A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

          2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

          Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

          One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

          • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
          • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
          • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
          • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
          • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
          • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
          • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

          3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

          Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

          One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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          4. Get Some Exercise

          You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

          Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

          If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

          5. Work on the Ambiance

          If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

          If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

          6. Take a Lot of Notes

          Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

          This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

          Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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          Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

          7. Make Mind Maps

          Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

          You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

          Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

          Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

          8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

          Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

          However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

          Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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          9. Find the Right Context

          Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

          Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

          The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

          With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

          10. Study Every Day

          It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

          The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

          If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

          More to Help You Learn Quicker

          Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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