Learning and Development

Talent Or Persistence?

It’s still the cool of a yet to be hot summer day. I watch as two boys in whites walk onto the shiny green cricket field.

I can’t tell them apart. Same height. Pads, gloves, even shoes are the same. Only their hats and branded bats distinguish one from the other.

They’re still alike until they start to play. Two opening batsmen with completely different styles. One with beautiful talent and grace and speed. The other with timing, patience and persistence.

As usual,  I’m the scorer and sometimes umpire for my son’s junior cricket team.  He’s yet to bat. And obviously, he won’t be batting with one of the two out there.

And today, I know which batsman will be leaving the field first. And the summer of the two dissimilar batsmen was brought to mind when I started reading John Stepper’s You are Talented Enough.

In that article, he recollects how as a manager would choose people on talent only.  Those with talent were segregated, feted and developed to their potential. As for the rest, they would locked and boxed, then set aside.

Taking and applying that principle to our two opening batsmen, the talented one would receive all the coaching.  After all, the talented one is scoring all the runs, isn’t he? And the persistent one, he’s racking up dot balls (no scoring shots), making less runs and isn’t worth the effort.

Until you asked the scorer (me) what was really happening. For each and every game was the same. The opener with ability scored runs quickly. But not for long. He always got out and returned first. As for his partner, he would still be out there, persisting in developing his talent. And slowly getting better despite the setbacks. Cricket has plenty of those.

And as John Stepper wrote large companies look for talent and nurture it . And I would imagine that such people didn’t always last the distance. Yet the ones with passion and persistence are the valuable ones, the ones that make my day, the ones I learn from and then the others I write or train.

Whether as player, scorer, cricket coach, subject matter expert interviewee, trainee, workmate, colleague, you get the idea.

Only one of those two players returned the next season. He kept persisting.