“Top Talent” – we are either all looking for it, or all wanting it – but what does this elusive term really mean?

 “Maybe she’s born with it” – Maybeline

There is a general conception, dare I say stereotype that talent is simply one’s natural aptitude for a particular activity – and that somehow that natural aptitude will ensure one’s success. Many refer to talent as a zero-sum game, you have it or you don’t. We have constructed a Wizard of Oz aura around the mysterious concept of talent, which puts an even greater premium of people who have it – whatever it is.

Behind the Smoke and Mirrors: What is talent?

What is often not said and not recognized is that natural aptitude is only the very small seed behind any success story. Resting on the laurels you’re born with won’t get you very far. Any “top talent” would tell you that true talent is much more than the seed; rather it is something that is nurtured and cultivated. It is a concept that embodies hard work, dedication, and skill building. It also requires one to find and follow opportunities to develop that natural aptitude until it becomes a full-fledged (and marketable) talent.

 Where to get some talent?

The secret that no one wants you to know is that talent is not simply a luck of the draw situation. While it is true that some people are naturally inclined towards particular activities, it is also true that in the legal, executive and business world, the talents required are precisely the kinds of talents that can be created and cultivated. According to ERC, an HR Resources organization, top talent is distinguished from just average performers by 8 special qualities.

Top Talent: A buildable buzzword 

So, pick a skill or an activity– preferably something that is intuitive to you or something you enjoy, and invest in it. Seek out ways to better your skill, then practice – a lot. Research “top talents” in your field and learn from their paths and successes. The unsurprising reality is that nothing comes easy, much less success – talent is simply a proxy for hard work and specialized skills. It is a resume and industry buzzword. If you don’t feel like you were born with “it” – then build “it” and create your own buzz.