More often than not, I find myself disagreeing with what I hear from people when they talk about talent and skill. Despite being lazy, I’ve always wanted to try putting my thoughts on the matter into comprehensible paragraphs. But since I am lazy, I still didn’t do it. I didn’t have a reason to stop being lazy and do it (because excuses are the way to go if they’re true).
If only I could somehow write about it using anime, so I could post about it on this blog (because we always need signs).
Baby Steps and Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo generally agree with my views on this matter, and they’re both anime. I’m out of excuses.
There’s always this notion about how very skilled people in a field or discipline are just talented. People always envy (in good and bad ways) those who are very skilled at something, often attributing it to just talent. Now, I’m not generalizing. There are many who don’t feel that way, but from my experience, they (we) are the minority. I can’t do anything about that, but as I said earlier, I just wanna try explaining this point of view of mine.
First of all, attributing everything, or even just a lot, to talent is just plain wrong for me. Sure, talent is an important factor on someone’s skill at something. There’s a necessary level of talent required to be good at something, but it’s just a part of the equation. The other parts are just as important. One important part, and the part which people will have the most control of, is dedication. Look at those at the top of their fields or disciplines where talent is the most credited attribute for their successes. Most of them, if not all, all worked hard to raise their skills to their level. They’re usually one of the most hard working people in what they do. Talent may have set their ceilings high, but hard work took them there. Just look at Natchan, she’s a hard worker, and that’s a big reason why she’s number one in
my heart their district.
I’m not trying to belittle talent’s effect on a person’s skill, I just want to emphasize that dedication is just as important, if not a more important factor in why these people we look up to (or want to bring down for others) are right up there. Luck is also a really big factor. It is a big factor in everything, but it can’t be controlled so people should just leave it be and think about what they can control. And it doesn’t end there, it’s practically impossible to list the influences people receive that contribute to what happens in their lives, and whether or not people get to harness their talents is definitely also affected by that. We always see people who had the potential to be good at something, but didn’t have the dedication to even get near the heights they could’ve reached. Maybe some didn’t really like the things where their talent could’ve helped them. Maybe some just didn’t think that they needed dedication on top of their talent to reach the top, which would result in them concluding that those above them are just more talented. Maybe some had too many problems and priorities to deal with to have the time and motivation to practice or even discover that they have the talent for something. There are lots of reasons why someone with the talent to be special at something never got to be special at it. What about people who aren’t at the top when it comes to talent? There are people who may be not as talented as the really talented ones, but work hard enough to be considered just as talented as them. Ei-chan isn’t a prodigy, but it’s his dedication that makes up for it.
It is hard to believe that hard work works when someone who’s so far away is right in front, especially when they’re just around our age. Sakurasou emphasizes this. People can’t help it. It makes us feel like what we’re striving for is unreachable, that we don’t have enough talent. It makes us frustrated, but there’s nothing wrong with being frustrated. It’s the reaction to that and the perspective that matters. Consider this, the skills they needed to be good at their discipline or craft was in some form and way, already been honed for an unimaginable (for us) amount of time.
If Takuma considered this, would he have quit working hard at tennis? He is very talented for tennis, that is clear, but seeing someone his age who’s already so far away from him discouraged him because he assumed that the skill gap between them was only because of talent. But is that really the case? Maybe, maybe not.
Mashiron is considered a genius because at her young age, she’s already internationally renowned for her painting skills. Why is she this good? Sure, she had the talent to be good at it,but why is she so far away from other people of her age? If we were to believe that talent isn’t everything, why is that the case when she’s still too young to have outworked people of her age that much?
But she did outwork them, and in an unimaginable amount for someone who’s not her. She’s been painting nonstop since her childhood, if you can even say she had one. She just painted and painted and painted. She painted for an incomparable amount of time than those of her age. That was only possible because she’s abnormal, but that doesn’t negate the fact that, even if she didn’t think of it as hard work, she worked harder than anyone else her age.
Ei-chan appears to lack the talent for tennis, but is that really the case? Talent for something “general” like a sport depends on one’s talent for the specific skills used in the sport. To be perfect at tennis, there are a lot of skills that someone needs to be on a special level. Sense of rhythm, eyes, athleticism, reflexes, etc. Players have their strengths and weaknesses. Takuma is talented at tennis because he has special athleticism and reflexes. Ei-chan has really good eyes. He can read the shot the opponents going to make in advance by looking at the movement of his opponent’s body. He’s also really good in looking for details in moving objects. His depth perception is also exceptional. Basically, his eye is godly. He’s talented and ultra good at something important in tennis. But was his eyes this good since birth? I’d like to say no. He’s always had good eyes, but what pushed his skill at using his eyes to this level wasn’t tennis, the reason lies all the way back to when he was still very young. Everyday during that time, he tried to get a glimpse of his father from a train passing by that can be seen from his window. The train is moving a a high speed and has a lot of people inside it. If doing that for that long didn’t hone his skills in using those eyes, then practice really is useless. He’s that skilled with his eyes because of that experience, not the other way around. If someone’s really good at dribbling the ball, and he was dribbling balls since his childhood, his skill right now is probably because all those time were spent on honing the skill to reach it’s level today, not the other way around.
Ei-chan’s eyes won’t carry him that far if he’s bad at the other skills needed in tennis. He’s really behind in those other skills compared to other players because he’s only started his first sport and isn’t really an active guy before starting tennis. It was only natural for him to be that far behind. The others started way before him. He’s playing catch up with them, but he’s doing it in the most diligent fashion, and that’s why he’s closing the gap noticeably.
Talent and hard work, combined. No excuses. Just focus on the goal, not on others’ achievements or failures. (Unless the goal is to look down on people previously above you.)
No matter how far away my goal is, no matter how small a step I’m taking, as long as I keep moving forward, someday I’ll get there.
Of course it’s not set in stone that he’ll get there, but if he doesn’t try, then he’ll never reach it for sure. Which would you prefer, taking a chance to achieve your goal or having no chance by not doing your best, comforting yourself by saying you didn’t try so you didn’t fail? I’m straying away from the topic now. Time to stop.
Whew. All these words when my main point is just really short: that skill isn’t something that simple where you can just chalk it up to talent. That’s a big discredit to the work skilled people has put in to be where they are.
But it is an effective way to make yourself feel better. 🙂