On Skill and Talent

When we reject people it is often because we failed to recognize their worth. The reason is that we confuse skill with talent. Many people who have a great skill in a certain area, for example a certain programming language, are frustrated to be reduce to just that skill. Higher-ups, people in management positions and even co-workers will mistake that specific skill with your whole personality.

Mentioning that you are good at programming Python suddenly makes you the Python-guy. The problem is that the kind of people who tend to be really good at something, are usually also good at many other things, including the holistic thinking that is required of effective leadership. That’s because specific skills flow from a more general talent to acquire skills.

We all remember Leonardo da Vinci primarily as a painter of the Sixteenth Chapel or the Last Supper. But he was also a write, a philosopher, an engineer, a builder, a scluptor, a phycisist, a musician, an architect — a huomo universalis.

If you go looking for a Python developer, you will find one, but you will fail to see that person’s inherent strategic planning abilities. If you go looking for a ecommerce business developer, you will find one, but you will fail to see their team builder abilities.

People are not skilled workers anymore -this is not the industrial age. Today, almost all of us are talented human beings. We can do more than one thing well, because we are trained in developing talent.

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