Talent….Let’s get the definition right

So a few months ago, my hometown newspaper referred to myself and a few of my teammates as having “mediocre ability.” The reporter went on to imply that we were undeserving of resources. Thanks buddy…next time I have an extra Cubs’ ticket I’ll call you I swear.

What probably infuriated me the most about that comment was the fact that the writer had completely bungled the definition of ability/talent. If he wanted to state that I had “mediocre genes” I would have agreed 100%. When compared to others out there my “natural” ability is pretty low. I can name countless skaters I grew up with who were more genetically gifted than I was. They used to destroy me in local competitions when we were younger. However, natural ability is a very different thing than the all encompassing ability/talent that the reporter referred to.

In recent years, the definition of talent has changed from the notion that there are some people who are genetically superior than others in a given activity to the fact that genetics multiplied by years of purposeful practice creates mastery. Books such as Outliers, Bounce, and The Talent Code have cited countless examples of how people who are masters of their given trade merely practiced more than others. This idea explains why Brazilians are so good at soccer, Mozart was able to create such beautiful pieces and Tiger Woods is so good at golf. They had the opportunity to and took advantage of every opportunity they could to practice.

Not to humblebrag, but I take great pride in my own work ethic and determination. There have been countless opportunities to quit, walk away from this damn sport and actually make some money in business or use my degree in politics. However, I didn’t. I kept practicing, putting in 8 hour days at the oval, doing workouts when no one was around. And slowly but surely I became a skater who was gets top 10 results internationally. The guys who used to beat me in grade school got lazy, quit or found better things to do with their lives.

So when this reporter stated I had “mediocre ability” I was pissed. He completely disregarded the hours of training my teammates and I have put in. Disregarded the sacrifices we have made. Forgot all the names who we have persevered over. All I think he took into account were our genes.

So to you kind sir, if you insist on calling me “mediocre” come train with me for one day. Put in the hours I do trying to perfect my craft for 24 hours. If you do I promise two things: 1. you won’t be able to walk the next day and 2. you will never call myself or my teammates mediocre again.

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