Technique, Talent and Vision

Technique without talent is inefficient.

Some folks are just born with certain gifts and talents. They are smart in the right way to “just get it”. Whether it is music or leadership, or basketball, it doesn’t matter – some people are a “natural”. The rest of us have to learn the techniques and practice, practice, practice. While technique will get us pretty far, it will never catapult us into the same league as the natural talent. Our practice does not accomplish as much as the practice of the person with talent.

We all have had the experience of the class in school where we studied our brains out, and someone else in class, didn’t study at all, and out scored us on the test. This is an example of the inefficiency of technique. It isn’t that we aren’t as smart or intelligent as our colleague, it is merely that his talent for assimilating that specific body of knowledge was greater than ours.

When I was a freshman in college, calculus was my kryptonite. I worked and worked and really never got it. I took calculus 1 3 times, and never got better than a C. Yet I took senior level technical English classes (linguistics, semantics and grammar – courses that english majors sweated over) and got A’s as a freshman and sophomore. So it goes with talent.

Talent without technique is ineffective.

Raw talent will only get you so far. People who have a talent at something need to realize that in order to maximize what they get from that natural ability, they still have to learn and practice technique. They have to develop the talent.

When I was in high school, I was a runner. I held the school record in all distance races above the quarter mile (400 m). I was ranked in state in the mile my senior year, only being about 10 sec off the fastest time in the state that year. I had some natural ability to run those distances that was coming to light. I had a goal to run the mile in under 4:15 – but really couldn’t get close, because I did not have the right training regimen (coach just didn’t know how) to achieve that goal.

When I got to college, I joined the cross country team running 5 mile races with a different training regimen. I had a coach who really knew what he was doing, and some more talented teammates to compete against. I remember being completely surprised when in my first cross country competition, my first mile split was faster than I had ever run the mile in competition in high school. OK – so I didn’t hold that pace for 5 miles, but having better technique (breathing) and practice allowed me to finish the 5 mile event with an average mile split of 4:57 and have my first and last miles under 4:30 – both faster than my fastest time in high school.

Competitive running is a discipline that combines physical and mental aspects, and appropriate training and technique develops both together. During high school, I was competing on talent. My high school coach did not push any techniques other than run, run, run. When introduced to new breathing techniques, training strategies, and mental disciplines I learned to push myself harder and to maximize my effectiveness.

In my conversations with musician friends, they report similar gains in effectiveness from learning appropriate technique that allow them to conquer more and more difficult passages. They also report that merely knowing and understanding the technique is not sufficient to be effective, techniques are mastered through practice. Being able to execute the technique and to feel the results of executing it well requires practice.

I have experienced this in my work as well. One other thing that I have learned about technique – it does not increase your natural ability – it complements it. It is important to know when to apply which technique – applying the wrong technique can actually make the results worse. The way to learn which technique applies to a situation is through practice.

When you apply the right technique and execute it well your natural ability, your talent, is amplified, and your effectiveness is improved.

Vision without technique and talent is frustration.

Vision is the understanding of what the result is supposed to be. When I know what is supposed to be, but have neither the natural ability, nor the technique to achieve that result, I am very frustrated.

Of course the advantage of vision is that I can always augment my understanding by acquiring talent and technique in the form of staff. This is great, but I have to be able to recognize talent and discern technique in order to hire in ways that complement my vision. I also have to be able to communicate my vision for what the result is so that others can help me achieve it.

Technique and talent without vision are working for someone else.

You can have all the talent and technique in the world – but without the vision, the creative energy, to put forth a goal, and try to achieve it your talent and technique will only be useful to achieve someone else’s goal. Talent and technique will get you a job, but if you want more than a job, if you want to drive your own future, you need vision. Perhaps for you, working for someone else is OK.

Vision is the ability to see a desired outcome, and to establish that outcome as a goal. Talent and technique must be applied In order to achieve the goal.

Vision without courage and perseverance doesn’t matter.

We love to watch people with vision. Steve Jobs, Bill gates, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Bill Hybels, Dwight Moody, William Booth, Clara Thompson, Mark Zuckerberg.

Conventional Wisdom holds that such vision is a rare commodity. I believe that we all have vision for our own future, and many have vision for their family, for their children. It is courage and perseverance that allows visionaries to succeed. A visionary has to be willing to fail, in order to attempt to succeed. If I am not willing to fail, I will fail to start. A visionary has to be willing to continue to believe in the vision when everything is going wrong. I submit that it is not for lack of vision that each of us does not set and achieve goals in line with our vision, but for lack of courage and perseverance. We all dream dreams. Who has the cojones to go all out to make dreams happen. Those are the people we admire. Everyone in my list took risks, faced difficulty, endured mocking and disbelief.


  • ramgev08

    September 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm Reply

    Thanks for Impressive post. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

  • Rich Stone

    September 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm Reply

    Courage and Will are significant contributors to what we regard as success. Thanks for your comment .

Leave a Reply