We’ve all admired a canvas of art hung on a museum wall or a drifting melody hinged onto a breeze, escaping softly from the lowered windows of a passing car, and thought with amazement that’s talent. Or maybe you’re an avid sports fan and can recall that moment when that footballer was a blur of skilful movement, and the next thing you registered was that the stands were roaring with victory. And not even being able to decipher what had just occurred before your eyes, just thought, how did he do that?
When we talk of talent, you probably think of these professions, these superhumans who, in a complete league of their own, seem to achieve the impossible and simultaneously make it seem so easy. But talent can be any ability; the precise co-ordination of a pianist, the imaginative spark of a writer, the confident aura of a public speaker, the creative initiative and risk-taking of an entrepreneur or even the driven mind of an engineer. And what if I told that you had a super-power of your own?
According to research the characteristics which lie at the foundations of our talents, our super-powers, have a cognitive and genetic basis. Traits required for entrepreneurial success seem to be wired more deeply than you might think. Krueger’s research (2005) focused on the cognitive processing required for entrepreneurial thinking. He claims that successful entrepreneurs have a more attuned cognitive perception of noticing potential opportunities, and then making the most of them. Similarly, individual’s creativity, which is essential for novel writing, has been discovered by fMRI brain scans to be determined by unique cognitive functioning. They showed in some people, certain brain regions communicate more unusually with each other to construct creative ideas (Beaty, 2014).
When it comes to genetics, the study on expertise acquisition conducted by Plomin (2013) discovered that identical twins had a 60% shared genetic contribution that influenced their abilities as expert readers. And if a simple skill such as this is shaped quite powerfully by our genetic make-up, what does this imply for the wide range of experts we find in society? More importantly, what does this research mean for you?
But it isn’t enough to merely know what your super-power is. Armstrong (2003) states that it takes more than just experience or a natural gift to become an expert, to become world class, at what you can do. Through a psychological process called encapsulation we become skilled experts in a specialised area. But to get there we must ensure we develop the right approach, the right mind-set to really make the most of our abilities. To become world class, we need to plan our vision, develop effective strategies to overcome obstacles, have a self-monitoring outlook and a growth-mindset.
You have super-powers, everybody does. The only meaningful question left is what will you choose to do about yours?
Beaty, R., Benedek, M., Wilkins, R., Jauk, E., Fink, A., Silvia, P., Hodges, D., Koschutnig, K. and Neubauer, A. (2014). Creativity and the default network: A functional connectivity analysis of the creative brain at rest. Neuropsychologia, 64, pp.92-98.
My experience is that working at that deeper level, at the level of mindset, has
transformed me from a raw but passionate individual to someone who is very self-
aware and knows what I want to achieve and what is important to me in life. Making
change at that personal level has also brought huge benefits to the business – this
year we have grown by an incredible 500%.
– Angus Drummond, Founder and CEO of Limitless Travel