Book Review: Talent Is Overrated - by Geoff Colvin


Very similar message to several other books. Talent is not innate, it comes from hours of deliberate practice.

My notes

  • IQ is a decent predictor of performance on an unfamiliar task, but once a person has been in a job for a few years, IQ predicts little about performance.
  • The differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.
  • Deliberate practice can be applied in other domains, such as business or science, in which we almost never think about practicing.

  • Deliberate practice is characterized by several elements, each worth examining.
    • activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help
    • it can be repeated a lot
    • feedback on results is continuously available
    • it’s highly demanding mentally, or physically
    • it isn’t much fun.
  • Deliberate practice requires identifying elements of performance that need to be improved, and then working on them.
  • Great performers isolate highly specific aspects of what they do and focus on just those things until they are improved.
  • High repetition is the most important thing.
  • Practice needs feedback, focus and concentration.
  • 4-5 hours a day seems to be the upper limit of deliberate practice. Sessions lasting no more than 60-90 minutes.
  • Experienced people in a field can advise on what skills and abilities to acquire next and give feedback.
  • Best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but about the process. Make specific, technique-oriented plans.