Talent Is For Shit

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The best advice I could possibly give you, and forgive me if this seems glib, is to work. Work. Work. Work. Every day. At the same time every day. For as long as you can take it every day, work, work, work. Understand? Talent is for shit. I’ve taught school for nearly thirty years and never met a student who did not have some talent. It is as common as house dust or kudzu vine in Alabama and is just about as valuable. Nothing is as valuable as the habit of work, and work has to become a habit.

via chillit.htm.thx @jmcolberg

There Are 27 Comments On This Article.

  1. Well…I’m sure that mildly funny paragraph will fit nicely into the novel Mr. Moser is probably writing in his spare time…when he’s not listening to Bach’s Art of the Fugue or the Goldberg Variations over and over and over…but I’d like to think that my talent has a bit more to do with my success than me simply showing up and tossing some light around…

  2. I meant I could not agree more with “The best advice I could possibly give you, and forgive me if this seems glib, is to work. Work. Work. Work. Every day. At the same time every day. For as long as you can take it every day, work, work, work. Understand? Talent is for shit. I’ve taught school for nearly thirty years and never met a student who did not have some talent. It is as common as house dust or kudzu vine in Alabama and is just about as valuable. Nothing is as valuable as the habit of work, and work has to become a habit.”

  3. The entiire entry for those too lazy yo read it:
    “The best advice I could possibly give you, and forgive me if this seems glib, is to work. Work. Work. Work. Every day. At the same time every day. For as long as you can take it every day, work, work, work. Understand? Talent is for shit. I’ve taught school for nearly thirty years and never met a student who did not have some talent. It is as common as house dust or kudzu vine in Alabama and is just about as valuable. Nothing is as valuable as the habit of work, and work has to become a habit. This I learned from Flannery O’Connor. Read her. Read her letters especially, and her essays. You will learn more about what it is you want to do from people like her and Ben Shahn and Eudora Welty than you will ever learn from drawing classes. Read. Read. Read. You are in the business of words more than pictures. You must understand words and the craft and art of putting words together to move men’s souls and minds and hearts. Listen to music. Listen to Bach’s Art of the Fugue and the Goldberg Variations over and over and over. Every day, day after day after day until you begin to sense, if not understand, what he is up to. Then try to implement what you intuit from Bach into your own work. I don’t care if you don’t like classical music. Do it. It is invaluable, but you have to listen, and then don’t listen. Let it fill your mind at one moment and then let it flow over you and into you until you are paying it no attention whatever. Bach will teach you form and structure and rhythm and all sorts of things you never imagined.

    Second to the value of work is the willingness to fail. Faulkner said that to not fail is to be perfect and that if we ever did anything perfect nothing would remain but to cut the throat. Experiment and fail. Move on. Experiment and fail. Move on. Always keep in motion and finish the job even if it is not exactly what you hoped it would be, is not as good as it could be. It will never be as good as it could be. But each time you must try to make it as good as it could be. Its shortcomings will reveal themselves in time, sometimes to your embarrassment, but that’s ok. It’s part of the growth process. Failure is the foundation of growth. I’ve done over 200 books and not one of them is perfect. But.I would rather have the 200 imperfect books that comprise my history and mark the vectors of my path through my art form than to have one perfect book which would comprise nothing but its own perfect self and denote no vectors of a life lived, and an art form struggled with and occasionally, very occasionally, bested. More I cannot advise you except (as corny and prosaic as it may seem) put love first in your life, love of yourself and your work and of other people, and of whatever things of the spirit move and motivate you, and to have fun and maintain a fierce sense of humor. There is nothing so serious or important that it can’t be laughed at, or even poked a little fun at. Practice safe sex. Don’t do heavy drugs. Don’t get drunk and drive a car. Eat your greens. Get plenty of sleep.”

  4. Depends on what your idea of “success” is. If your dreams are mild, then yes, simply out-working the next guy will probably bring you a degree of success. If you aim higher, and you’re not satisfied with boring but predictable results, then the formula is most definitely TALENT + WORK = SUCCESS. In either case, you do need to work, work, work…

  5. scott Rex Ely

    The idea that talent is not a factor any more is because some people only have taste in their mouths. Sure work, work, work harder, and what? Perfect your work habits? How about working smarter, not harder? Formulaic identities are are already in the 80’s. Sorry if people can’t distinguish, as buyers, consumers or aestheticians, the difference between finely crafted images and the drivel of repetitious spew.

  6. Complete BS. Talent is developed and earned through hard work and dedication; those of us that “have it” often belittle our accomplishment. MOST humans are born without talent and very few parents encourage what talent exist – instead they call it Attention Deficit Disorder and medicate the child. Imagine if Mozart or Einstein had been medicated. Anyone can work hard and achieve a small goal, but talent can take you all the way to the top = the difference between those that do – and those that don’t.

  7. Adam Hendrik

    In the end, it takes a drunken belligerent to snort one last line of talent, roll over and puke the most beautifully drafted rendition of current culture onto a canvas to send him spinning into stardom. He will laugh a the culture who’s lifetime will be spend mimicking what he created in one moment and snicker at the teachers who preach that talent can be paid for.

  8. Honestly, I call B.S. All the work in the world won’t get you anywhere if you start at sucking and end at sucking. The same goes for if you have all the talent in the world and don’t apply it in a business smart way. Why is it people need to look at this as an either/or situation? In today’s market you need BOTH talent and hard work. Hope you’ve got a sprinkling of luck and good personality to go along with it too. If you think otherwise than the next thing I have to say to you is, “I’d like some fries with that.”

  9. Ooh, people get tetchy when you mention talent.
    I kind of get the impression that the perception of talent is the glue that holds this business together. And if anyone dares suggest the emperor might be less than fully attired the backlash is somewhat stinging.
    How much “talent” is involved in photographing another girl pouting in her underwear, or lighting another group of dull suits on seamless for a marketing mag? Seems to me that’s more about craft than wild, groundbreaking, balls out talent. You can do it better or worse than the next person, but talent doesn’t really come in to it.

  10. Gil Meriken

    We need to first have an agreed definition of talent so that we’re not arguing the definition of the word “talent”.

  11. 1. Talent is the foundation upon which a creative career can be built.
    2. Unexpressed talent is as good as no talent at all.
    3. I’ve met many remarkably talented artists that want the world handed to them on a silver platter, they want to be “discovered.”
    3a. I tell them “go and work at finding people who can discover you.” They ask me if I want room in my coffee.
    3b. I return to my office and spend hours and hours and hours and hours studying, reading, practicing and calling person after person after person after person after person after person after person after person asking them to look at what I have to offer.

    Yes, it takes talent to get anywhere, having talent is the entrance fee to the competition that is the creative industries. To be successful requires much more than having talent, it requires being in the right place at the right time with the right words in your mouth and the right piece of artwork in your hand – the only way to have all of those occur is through hard work, dedication, sacrifice and more hard work.

    Not everyone can be a superstar and just because you aren’t a superstar doesn’t mean you don’t have talent nor does it mean that you’re not damned good at your job.

  12. Mel in Stoneham

    The message here works no matter what field you choose. If you haven’t found a career so interesting that you want to work at it every waking hour of every day, keep looking.

    Steve Jobs delivered his version of this message at a 2005 Stanford commencement address.

    When I hear kids saying, “I want a career that I will enjoy, but I want time for a personal life,” I think those people are on a fool’s errands. We live in a very competitive, global economy. To survive, you will have to be the very best at whatever you do. You will never be the best at anything you don’t love doing more than anything else. And as Steve told that 2005 commencement audience, keep looking until you find it. He did, and he changed the world.

    When I hear of people who look forward to a weekend round of golf, or calling others “workaholics,” I feel sorry for them, because they’re probably spending their week doing something they don’t love more than anything else. I feel sorry for those who live with them, because they will sense the absence of joy in them. They’re probably looking forward to retirement, too. Pity. If they love golf so much more than what they do all week long, they ought to spend their time figuring out how to make their career in golf. Why wait till you retire to do what you love, when your mind and body aren’t as fresh as they are today? Do you think Tiger Woods would be as great a golfer if all week long he looked forward most to being a stock trader nights and weekends?

    My girlfriend is a perfect example of someone who truly loves what she does, is great at it, gets paid for it, and loves it so much she can’t shut it down. She’s a private-practice psychotherapist. When she’s not counseling clients, she’s counseling friends and family. She should be a test pilot for the cellphone industry. She ends each day totally exhausted and usually happy about what she’s helped clients do. And when we travel, she makes a best new friend of whomever she’s sitting next to on a train or flight, using the same communication skills and love of people she’s figured out how to commercialize all week and year long. She’s a gift to all who know her. I recognized that 15 minutes after I met her.

    As Steve said, if you haven’t found a career so interesting that you want to work at it every waking hour of every day, keep looking.

  13. It is pretty clear that the message is, talent without producing is worthless. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t work at it and hone your craft it is “shit”.

    He doesn’t say that work trumps talent.

  14. What incredible nonsense. This article is a sign of the times, it is short, flat, simple and not very well thought through. My time is wasted. Thanks. (got here via a social link, not wanting to see the rest of this site anymore).

    Well done in scaring people away.

  15. Simply put-with your abundance of IQ, EQ & physical attributes- you need the energy and motivation to go after it.

    Dont’ whine- go for it- whether you need to take the ‘clear pill’* to unlock your head.

    reference to ‘Limitless’ -clear example of what this post is about.

  16. I’ve always felt there were 3 keys to success (in any field):

    Talent
    Competence
    Endurance

    And you can’t skimp on any of these.

    I agree that most people are born with a measure of talent. Some have more of a gift of ‘seeing’ beyond what’s in front of them than others. Could be genetics or environment or a lucky moment…

    Competence is the ability to deliver. Get the job done. Seek answers to questions you don’t know and develop a structure to put your talent to work.

    And endurance is to this day after day, year after year.

    All three of these influence each other though, like multipliers. If any of them is 0 or a low number, then the success rate is also 0 to low.

  17. i have read & reread this article and looked around my self for its application and found that if and when I apply, its “work, work, work” along with my talent, my dreams will & do come true, THX!

  18. Mark Davidson

    A key point in the article is the learning that occurs as a consequence of work. Learning and growth, compounded over years is viewed as talent.