A 2-Minute Video That Might Change the Way You Think About Talent


Today morning was a big day. If you’re a Korean, you know what I mean. Every Korean was cheering for Yu-na Kim, the defending champion of Ladies’s figure skating, to capture her second consecutive gold medal in the Ladies’ Figure Skating event at Sochi after her stunning performance at Vancouver Olympics. 

At the end of the performance, there were bursts of outcry on the questionable judging. “Queen Yu-na” ended up with a silver medal. Many felt Yu-na was robbed from her gold medal after her flawless performance and questionable judging. 

yuna kim_paul sohn

Nonetheless, the world recognized the brilliance and amazing talent in this true champion. There is this magnetizing effect when we spot truly amazing talent.

But, this begs the question, “what is our understanding of talent?” “Is this notion of talent correct?” The truth is the notion of talent is confusing. If you haven’t, watch the 2-minute video above that may change the way you think about talent. 

What I particularly love about this video is the straightforwardness. Like Daniel Coyle said, “it doesn’t sell kids any of the sugary Disney “just believe in yourself and you’ll succeed” syrup. It doesn’t overload them with scientific talk. It simply lays out the facts. Find something that you love and that suits you. Everyone develops at different rates. Hard work is the path forward.”

The folks at Sportscotland has done us a favor and helped identify three key aspects of the talent. 

1. Physical suitability is important and can be developed – there are lots of exceptions and lots of sports. 

It’s important to understand the physical demands of your sport and working hard on individual strengths and weaknesses. 

mo farah 5000m progression


2. Current performance is not good at predicting future success understanding how advantages can be gained or lost over time looking talented because of early maturity, a limited talent pool, more time on task and the non-linear nature of developing implicit skills. 

current performance

“…as the years go by, your own knowledge gets deeper and you realize that this is a massive part of your life and you have to  take some responsibility too. You’re not a  puppet. You can’t rely wholly on other people any more. If things go wrong I need to know why. If we are doing a 200m session at this time of year I need to know the reason” – Jessica Ennis: Unbelievable 2012

Research has shown that experts in sport differ from non-experts in their ability to self-regulate (they take a key role in assessing progress) in key areas: 

  • Set specific goals
  • Have plans in place (focused on key areas)
  • Continually check and adapt the plan
  • Self reflect
  • Able to identify reasons for failure

These are skills that need to be developed.

3. Mindset – has been shown to be crucial in understanding successful people. 

Based on the work of psychologist Carol Dweck from Stanford University who has undertaken decades of research on achievement and success. Our focus has been to understand the mindset of elite athletes and how mindset can be developed.


What does this all Mean? 

Talent is not being good at the moment. It’s about…

1. Assessing your sport and developing your physical suitability. 
2. Taking time to understand the development process to keep you motivated on key tasks. 
3. Consistently approaching the development process with a growth mindset.