Can Training Really Beat Talent?

Have you ever noticed how some people appear to excel in some things over others even if they did not have any formal training on these stuff? For example, there are people who have such a keen ear on music that they can easily play back or sing new music they had only heard for the first even without reading from a music sheet. This talent is also seen in sports wherein some people have this knack of doing the best moves over others – and these people tend to excel and become famous on their own.

This brings us to the question, can training really beat talent? We’re trying to determine here whether a person who has trained hard on one thing can beat a person with less training but has innate talent in this particular field.


Now, there is this saying, “Hard work beats talent but only if talent doesn’t work hard.” This is not just a saying, however, as this conclusion is actually backed by scientific research published in Psychological Science. According to Psychology Today, researchers David Hambrick and Elizabeth Meinz “kill the myth that talent doesn’t matter” in their paper entitled, “Limits on the Predictive Power of Domain-Specific Experience and Knowledge in Skilled Performance”.

Yes, talent indeed matters but if a talented person does not work hard, he/she could easily be outdone by a person who worked/trained hard even if he/she has less talent.

But there are other points to this study:

  1. “People who are exceptionally talented are exceptionally rare”.
  2. “People who work hard are also pretty rare, too”!

So, this is actually good news to most of us as this means that even median/regular people have the chance to win the race (as long as there are many possible winners, not just one) as most people would be just half talented and half hardworking.

You can also check out the video by AsapSCIENCE explaining talent versus training here:

Sources: Psychology Today, AsapSCIENCE

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