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Talent is innate ability. Skills are acquired abilities. Generally, though, most of the time we say someone is talented we actually mean that they are skilled.

Besides, actual talent won’t make you a success. Statistically, it makes you highly unlikely to be a success. You might even want to think of it as a handicap.

A person with a talent seems to have it made in their field. We envy them their natural ability to pull answers and conclusions and insights seemingly out of the air, yet only a very few of the talented ones actually become successful in that field.

Imagine you have a talent for arithmetic and mathematics. When you’re starting out, you look at calculations or equations and you just know the answer. Everyone else around you is struggling trying to learn the intricate rules and how to apply them to work through the problems and reach a solution.

You just jot down the answers in a couple of minutes and lean back and think about rainbows, instead.

A year goes by, maybe two, or three or five or ten.

The problems are getting harder. You’ve reached the limit of your talent, and can’t just see the answer anymore. You’ve got to do it the hard way. Only you never really learned how. Sure, you can study, but you never really learned to do that either. You didn’t need to.

Everyone else, though, they take the next step in difficulty in-stride. They’ve got study-skills. They’ve learned how to acquire the skills to solve the problems, one bite-sized chunk at a time. They’re doing better than you now, and you’re starting to get a failing grade. They have years of knowledge-acquisition techniques practiced, where you have none.

Maybe you made it through school before you reached the limit of your talents. Maybe you made it through university. Maybe you made it into the workplace. But your talents are going to reach their limits, and then you’ll be competing with others on a skill-basis – an area you are ill-prepared for, where others who were born without your talents are very well-equipped indeed.

You can recover from that, sure, but it’ll put you years behind everyone else. You’ll be catching up to the competencies of others when you’re years older than them, and that’s assuming you can learn to apply yourself to the task.

Not every talented person manages that.

If you’re a lucky talent, you’ll actually not wind up in a field where your field of talent is important. You’ll be an attorney or a marketer or an accountant, who coincidentally can sing beautifully or pick up a musical instrument and play creditably without training, or perhaps have an innate grasp of quantum electrodynamics.

If you’re a particularly unlucky talent you’ll start with so many innate gifts that you’ll ultimately be left behind by your own generation. By the time you need to work and study, you really won’t have a grounding for how to even begin.

The bulk of society’s educational and support systems are geared towards the average person, that is a person who exhibits average talents in average quantities. Support for the talented can be as hard (or harder) to find as support for the handicapped. If you’re unfortunate enough to trending away from the top of the bell-curve in either direction, it can make your life very difficult, indeed.

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