Talent Matters Even More than People Think

If anything, it’s still underrated.

Read the full article at: hbr.org

Is talent overrated?

Can it be outperformed by motivation, drive, grit, and persistence?

Earned it the hard way?

In the fitness arena, people tend to come down squarely on one side or the other.  Ask an extremely fit person how they got there and you’ll most likely hear an earned-it-the-hard-way story.

In Your Genes?

Ask a fat person the same question and they’re likely to blame genetics, body type, destiny, or some other immutable factor.

Concentrated Power of Will

So who’s right?  Can the concentrated power of will substitute for simply being “born that way”?  Can motivation level the playing field?

Is Motivation Just Another Inborn Talent?

According to this Harvard Business Review report,  motivation itself can be considered a part of talent, and certain inherited personality traits that correlate with motivation in psychological testing are about 50% genetic, leaving the other 50% to choice, environment, willpower, and other factors.

Wrong Personality Type?

In other words, you can motivate yourself to get fit, but if you’ve got the wrong personality type, only about 50% of the success or failure of these efforts is under your conscious control.  News like this can really take the wind out of your sails – you’ve already been told you have the wrong body type, now you’ve got the wrong personality type to do anything about it?  Huh?

The Flaw in The Argument

Don’t worry, there’s a glaring flaw in this argument that could make all the difference.  The authors claim:

“That is not to say that you cannot coach people to improve their performance. But the most effective interventions focus on helping people go against their nature, replacing toxic habits with with more effective ones.”

Toxic Habits

Whoa!… Hold the phone … the assumption they’re making is that “toxic habits” stem from inborn personality traits, but what about poor nutrition and fitness choices based on ignorance and misinformation?

Junk Food & Starvation Diets

30% of Americans’ calories come from added sugar and alcohol, and, according to The New York Times, government subsidized junk foods are our biggest source of calories.  Most “diets” are based on the now debunked “calories in minus calories out” model and because of well-documented metabolic effects, this type of starvation almost always fails to achieve long-term results.

Nutrition Fundamentals

Despite being bombarded with information about antioxidants (eat dark chocolate!), lycopene (eat tomatoes!), resveratrol (drink red wine!) and ridiculously expensive vitamins, most of us don’t even know the fundamentals of nutrition:

Chasing Calories With Exercise

Most people are still chasing calories with exercise, when it’s been conclusively proven that you simply cannot outrun a bad diet.

So lack of motivation may not be as powerful a factor as it appears, since most people simply don’t know how to pursue their fitness goals.

Immutable Destiny?

Just because personality type may place certain limits on motivation and willpower, it doesn’t follow that all poor choices stem from lack of will.  Before we resign ourselves to the idea that our body type and our motivation to change are immutable destiny, it would be instructive to reframe our nutrition and fitness choices around well-designed scientific studies.

Knowledge is THE game-changer

Talent may be as important as motivation, but the application of solid scientific knowledge may make all the difference, and completely turn the weight loss game in your favor.





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