Friday, July 07, 2006

More the talent, more difficult it is to make choice

Single-edged individuals are blessed with one single deeply etched skill. For them, their other skills are overshadowed by their single skill and therefore remain unnoticed. It is therefore easy for them to focus on one skill, because the choice is automatic. As focus is intense and automatic since early age, one skill grows at the expense of others. Because of their one skill growth, they choose an outcome platform relevant to that skill; zero in their effort, which naturally increases the probability of excelling in that platform, thus achieving eventual success. Sachin Tendulkar, Shakuntala Devi or Vishwanathan Anand belongs to this category and so does Steven Spielberg.

Multi-edged individuals (whom we often term as all round talented individuals) , on the other hand, have a wider set of skills to ‘choose’ to focus on. It is a problem of plenty/prosperity. These individuals have a multiple set of skills each of a sufficient level of proficiency to be useful, but not deep enough to steer them in any particular direction. I call this Japan-India puzzle.

Someone once asked me in one of my Management Consulting seminars, “Why Japan with no natural resources and a small strip of land was able to succeed, while India with so much of natural resources and land could hardly achieve anything in the same time span?” Paradoxically, prosperity of India offered it too many options to choose from, which itself became a bottleneck in making the choice. Japan, due to its poor resources, had fewer options to choose from. India therefore could not make those choices, while Japan made them quickly. Japan prospered, India faltered.

Multi-edged individuals too face the same difficulty. As they have more skills, there is a natural desire to practice and develop every skill. Parents also unknowingly encourage development of all skills. With limited time at their disposal, multi-edged individuals therefore tend to spend less time on developing any particular skill. Consequently, none of the skills grows beyond the threshold level where it starts producing results. They falter, while single-edged individuals, even with less talent, succeed.

Talent is not enough to succeed in career, especially when the talent is expressed in multiple skills and areas. Talent in many areas throws many choices which students are hardly equipped to make.

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