(203) 453-5067 Laura@HandleEducation.com

The Prodigy Myth

images-3   Stories abound of individuals born with innate abilities whose talent astounds most mortal beings.  These include figures from a wide range of fields from the arts to natural sciences, mathematics, and sports: Michelangelo, DaVinci, Mozart, The Beatles, and Tiger Woods are just a very few examples.  Mozart starting performing classical music at the age of five. Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox left fielder was nicknamed “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.” However, what most people fail to realize is that these “prodigies” displayed certain traits that may have caused them to appear innately blessed and effortlessly gifted. They had the opportunity to excel through persistent and extraordinary effort. Of course, few people would diminish Mozart’s musical abilities. However, they  should take into account that his family situation certainly contributed to his musical talent. According to Mozart.com, “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was tremendously lucky to have an experienced musician as a father with Leopold Mozart. Leopold immediately recognised the potential in Wolfgang. He dedicated his life to supporting his son’s talent.” The young Mozart had the interest, and his father oversaw many hours of deliberate practice. Centuries later, the quartet known as The Beatles acknowledged that their success came from sustained practice: “In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours.” Furthermore, how many fans were aware that Michael Jordan, one of the most famous NBA players, did not make his high school basketball team? He was determined to succeed, so he put in many hours of practice to perfect his athletic skill, and the results were extraordinary. The lesson here is that effort is the key to success. Of course, having some talent is an essential starting point. But the most important component is the ability to devote hours, days, weeks, months, and years to developing that talent.  Those who claim that someone is a prodigy are displaying a closed mind set. They maintain that a prodigy has some secret advantage that they would never be able to exhibit. They use an  excuse to avoid the relentless effort necessary to enhance a talent.  If someone has a deep desire to improve in any realm, then persistent effort is the road to success.

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