Sally Kelman asks: Peter, I hope it’s okay to ask about sports. I don’t have access to anyone else who played professionally. What I wonder is the impact of in-born talent, genetics, compared to hard work and training?
Considering pretty much any sport, both aspects matter. You can’t be a professional athlete without having a very considerable genetic gift. It could be size, speed, strength, reflexes, vision, or whatever. And among pros, different levels of inborn talent in turn contribute to different achievements beyond being a pro athlete at all.
I suspect, however, that effort in training and enlarging skills and also in developing and maintaining various key mental traits and habits, and fitness and health, are even more central to different achievement levels beyond being a pro player at all.
My guess is that this is true not just in sports, but in pretty much all endeavors, the arts, science, whatever. Think singers, dancers, actors, researchers, writers, doctors, really, whatever you want, and I bet the same holds. There are certain attributes you have to be born with to make it at all. Variations in those attributes in turn contribute to different levels of accomplishment. But different effectiveness in honing one’s craft and different mindsets and attitudes contribute even more.
Pre-RPS another big variable was fitting the milieu you were entering. You had to navigate among the available roles. You had to not only play your sport – or sing your song, do your research, or whatever – you also had to “play the game” that was getting along in your field. My guess is more great talents failed to contribute much, in the past, for that reason, than any other. They couldn’t or they refused to play the corporate game.