17 Jan Talent Vs Persistence : Game Design Lessons #18
When I was a kid, it seemed fairly evident that some people were just born much more talented than others. It might be at sports, or writing, or art – but whatever it was, it seemed to make a big difference. After a few weeks or months of practice, these talented kids would be way out in front, clearly superior to everyone else.
But it’s the exact reverse in life.
Take those talented kids who were good at writing. When I look around, I see that very few of them have written a book, and almost none of them are published, or successful at writing. They’ve still got talent in that area, sure, but they’re not on the same level as a professional author. The same thing goes for those who were talented at baseball or soccer – sure they might be okay these days, but if you put them in a game with David Beckham, they wouldn’t have a chance… unless they have spent many years training.
So what’s the difference?
The professionals have spent years, thousands of hours, countless hard days honing their craft. They might have had some talent at the beginning, or not. Ultimately it doesn’t matter all that much – what truly matters is just how much practice they’ve done, and how persistent they’ve been.
It has been said that it takes about 10,000 hours of work in a field to become a master. That’s the equivalent of five years working forty hours a week. When you look at that quantity of work compared with simply innate talent, there really is no comparison.
It’s persistence that matters, not talent, or even inspiration for that matter. It’s pushing yourself to do the work, day after day, whether you feel like it or not. It’s having the willpower to push through the countless obstacles that will get in your way. It’s having the strength of character to endure the failures and to try again, and again, and again, despite sweat, blood, exhaustion and hopelessness.
If you want to be successful at something, whether it’s game design, writing, martial arts, soccer or any sort of career, then you need persistence above all else. It is persistence that will turn you into a professional. Just bear that in mind. Showing up and putting in the work consistently over a period of time will net you infinitely more rewards than inherent talent and the flash of inspiration.
Now go forth and be awesome!
~Oliver R. Shead
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Today’s image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – you can find the file here.