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Talent vs Skill ... they're NOT the same thing.

There seems to be some confusion over the concepts of talent and skill. The dictionary defines talent as “a special natural ability or aptitude.” Conversely, skill is defined as “the ability, coming from one's knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well.” Based on these definitions, we might say that talent is inherent from birth while skill is built over time. I firmly believe that every person on this planet has God-given abilities that are unique to them - abilities, talents, natural gifts that should be expanded and explored.


Society places tremendous importance on people with extraordinary talents, often to the point of worship. We see evidence of this all the time in background stories of Olympic athletes and America's Got Talent contestants. The person in question showed some initial promise; a teacher/coach/mentor provided encouragement and guidance; and the talent was built on and expanded into a significant skill.


I’ve seen a few articles and blog posts decrying the focus on talent in the world of fine and performing arts. The general idea that comes across is “we need to stop praising the kids who are good at stuff because it might make someone feel lesser than." Obviously it’s not okay to label some people as more valuable than others based on their talents … but neither should we dampen those abilities. If anything, we should be encouraging every person/child/student to find out what their own talents are and how to strengthen them. And if a particular talent doesn’t seem to be naturally present, then there’s room to build a new skill. There is literally zero need for comparison.


Fairness. Equality. Opportunity. Very hot button topics in our society these days, and so they should be. But should they really be applied to what someone is naturally, inherently designed to do well? I would argue … no.


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