written by Tomass Stepiņš
photos by Milena Zara 
model – Marlena Sarlote

Compliments and critique are an inevitable part of one’s everyday life. People comment on each others’ actions, deeds, thoughts, beliefs, talents and skills. More often than not these are being simply acknowledged and not thoroughly contemplated. However, I recognize that the misconception of talent should be emphasized

What is considered talent? Silly question, one would assume. A quick research on Google returns this definition: ‘’Natural aptitude or skill’’. While it seems to provide a clear insight at first glance, I believe that it is rather disputable.

theepiphany photo
photo by Milena Zara

My first conundrum in this interpretation was the word ‘natural’. Given the lack of provided information, I decided to take on a more socratic approach and presume that natural skill is the type of skill that one is born with. While my knowledge of anatomy and biology can be described as obscure, I am certain that no baby is born with the ability to, for example, play violin. A popular belief is that some people are born with musical hearing whilst others are not. 

My beliefs are similar to the ancient determinism philosophy – the theory that all events and processes are determined by previous causes and happenings. Similarly, everything a person goes through in life contributes to its various skillsets, independent of their awareness – one could be good at something and not realize it because of not having done the esteemed thing.

theepiphany photo
photo by Milena Zara

Childhood is the phase of a human’s life that shapes a person the most. A child is like a blank page on which every action and process in its vicinity leaves its mark and thus forms the greater image to follow. Exploring this theory further will lead us to the conclusion that parents are an extremely influential aspect of determining one’s competences. Most great artists, writers, poets, thinkers, and scientists have parents or close family members that have directly or accidentally paved their way to become a historical figure in a specific field. Mozart’s father was a composer and teacher of music, Picasso’s father was an art teacher, Henri Matisse’s mother was a painter, Nietzsche’s father was a teacher. The correlation is visible.

photo by Milena Zara

We have established that talent is not a skill you are born with – it is one that you are consciously or subconsciously taught, usually during childhood. This claim can be easily disintegrated by pointing at children of famous and successful people that have not followed in their parents’ footsteps. It is because their purpose, from which their interests and concerns arise and generate, lies elsewhere. It is hard to determine where one’s purpose or meaning comes from, however, this knowledge allows us to form a new definition of the word ‘talent’being driven and interested in doing something whilst also possessing a consciously or subconsciously acquired skillset which enables one to achieve targets in the esteemed field. 

Motivational speakers and successful people often tend to throw around quotes that state the importance of work and insignificance of talent, and while it is rather cliché, my conclusions seem to match theirs. Skills for something can be developed without realizing it as well as practicing with determination. Musical hearing can be honed. Logical thinking can be taught. No successful people are born ingenious, they simply have managed to find their purpose and match it with a body of work.

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June 19, 2018


You argue your point well, the nurture factors for developing ”talent” are indeed predominant, but the fact that you employ a blank slate view of the human mind (which has been disproved) and completely disregard genetic predisposition or different types of innate intelligence (mathematical, musical, spatial) as key variables in determining how ”talent” is formed makes your substantiation rather incomplete. I am not arguing against your largely coherent conclusion, but pointing to the variables you left out or chose to ignore.


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