Talent vs. Skill
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Tuberoller

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My office manager and I had to interview three welders over the last few weeks and all of them seem to be very good candidates. She did an excellent job of screening them and it looks like any of them would be good hires. This person has to replace me since I can't weld anymore and he has to be good.


Interviewing welders is always fun because I get to show off a bit but since I can't weld I had to watch the welders perform my self-fashioned welder's test. What I found is that all three of these people are very highly skilled(all were trained in the Armed Forces) but none of them seemed to have any real "talent", if I can say so without insulting any of them. When I made this statement to my office manager she was quick to argue that talent rarely contributes to a job well done. She thinks to perform a specific task all that is required is skill and talent is required only to create art. She goes on to argue that since we are only in need of a welder to perform a job,talent is useless.

Well,I'm sure you know that her words sparked a huge debate between us that rages on. I'm of the firm belief that skills can be taught and learned and you are born with or without talent. I formerly believed that talent required great passion and desire but my 10-year old son killed that for me. He's an amazing baseball player but has zero passion for the game and recently quit. I have seen welders who were never formerly trained who can do some amazing things and are highly skilled as well. I've also seen welders who could only peform one type of welding but were so highly skilled that their services were contracted around the country(example:welders who repair nuclear reactors).

If I can use myself as an example,I was trained only by my Grandfather and have been welding since the age of 11. I know how to use measuring tools and blueprints but usually only scan a blueprint once and almost never measure anything. I hold just about every welding certification you can get and lack only those that require specific experience (reactor and under-water welding). When I asked the welders I interviewed to construct a small jig without using tools, none of them were able to construct an accurate example. They all had to constantly refer to a blueprint to cut and weld an odd shaped hole in an exact location on a steel plate. Am I more skilled or more talented? I think any of these guys could make me look stupid if we were all given tasks of welding long runs,very thick plates or opposing materials. When I asked one of the guys if he could weld his name in a filled soda can he looked at me and said "that's impossible". I wasn't able to demonstrate but I pulled a can from my desk drawer that he asked to keep. Don't worry,I know that welding a name in a pop can has no practical application and it had no bearing on his selection for the job. He's the guy I'm gonna hire anyway.

If we apply this arguement to music and musicians, I think we really get into some sticky territory. My wife has always said creating electronic music requires no real talent,only the skill to use the computers and devices to make the sounds into music. I tend to agree somewhat. My Dad always says that there are musicians who have great technical skill but very little talent. He frequently cites Kenny G as one such musician. He also bashes Ramsey Lewis ( a family friend and great musician if you ask me) as a very skilled but ultimately un-talented musician. That is kinda harsh and I won't go there myself but the questions remain.

What are the real differences between talent and skill?

Do they matter in real-world applications? (in the workplace)

Are you skilled or talented?
 
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wallijonn

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Quote:

She thinks to perform a specific task all that is required is skill and [that] talent is required only to create art.


Talent is being able to think abstractly. Skill is learnt. She is right, skill is necessary only to do a job. But to do it really well will take talent. When an unforseen obstacle comes into play those with skill may be flabbergasted. Those that have talent will usually figure out a remedy quickly. Talented people will take those skills and become very proficient at it. A skilled person may never 'think outside the box'.

Am i Talented or skilled? Talented. As my friend (who used to work for the Government and who had to document each and every step) said, "you use voodoo to fix computers. That's art.
 
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Talent vs Skill: Two fields I know pretty well fully illustrate the difference between talent and skill. These are the flying of airplanes and the racing of autos.

A skilled pilot will always be able to demonstrate any maneuver he/she has been taught, and might inadvertently have in her/his repertoire some move that was "stumbled upon" while learning that is outside the book. For the most part, a skilled pilot will remain within what is known about his machine, and will not willingly exceed those bounds.

A talented pilot will use the book of knowledge to inform himself, but does not rely on what is known for his internal model of the "limits" of his craft. If the machine is capable of any maneuver, the talented pilot will find it out, through constant experimentation.

The very best is when skill and talent are sharply honed in the same person...this is when he/she is credited with making that car/plane/instrument "do things that were/are considered impossible" repeatedly.

Examples of this are: Stirling Moss, the "Uncrowned Champion" of Formula One Racing in the Fifties - he regularly took retired factory team cars that were already one or two years old in a time when the pace of technological progress was truly fierce, and when they held together, was often able to win against factory fresh cars that had better horsepower, better brakes, and better handling. Often his team had no sponsors. Competitors' factory teams had unlimited budgets, thus more spares and more team members - the best of everything.

The pilot who lost all hydraulics in his airliner, but managed to make the plane circle and burn off fuel while he practiced flying the plane wiith only the throttle controls is another example. That Hero managed to save more than half the Souls on board by learning (in one short session without a mentor) how to line up with the runway and get it down in nearly perfect alignment and speed at a runway in Iowa.

Those who are "talented" develop a feel or understanding that is beyond the understanding of those who are merely "skilled".

Skilled operators make less mistakes, but never demonstrate the full spectrum of what is possible.

For commercial production, you want skill, no surprises.

For R&D, you want talent, (and spares).

For success in competition, you want both.


IMHO, I am very moderately skilled in a few fields, but, (Sigh) talented in none - I have seen/been around true talent, and I don't have what it takes.
 
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Joe Bloggs

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Can't you ask your doctor to help you install some EMF protection on your chest so you can continue to enjoy welding?
 
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fewtch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tuberoller
What are the real differences between talent and skill?

Do they matter in real-world applications? (in the workplace)



Talent isn't useful without skill, and skill is pretty narrow and limited without talent. A talented artist without skill won't be able to create anything, whereas a skilled artist without talent will probably work for a cheesy advertising agency
.
Quote:

Are you skilled or talented?


I'm a JOATMON -- Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None. Lots of broad knowledge in many areas, almost none of it very deep. I guess that translates to an imbalance -- fair amount of talent, but not much skill. I actually find in-depth skills to be really difficult to learn and maintain (particularly some of the very, very specialized skills around these days), whereas fairly shallow talent in a multitude of areas comes easy to me.

The one advantage I find to this is being able to help 'newcomers' in a wide variety of areas. I really enjoy helping newcomers (to whatever), even with questions that others are sick to death of hearing. Gives me a real feeling of satisfaction, that if I can't accomplish something at least I can help set other people's feet firmly on the road, so maybe they will.
 
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pedxing

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I have met many talented people, but they do not have the skill or motivation to get the job done. I have friends who are very talented at what they do for a living, but they lack the experience, discipline, and motivation to get through the drudgery of the required work to succeed.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by pedxing
I have met many talented people, but they do not have the skill or motivation to get the job done. I have friends who are very talented at what they do for a living, but they lack the experience, discipline, and motivation to get through the drudgery of the required work to succeed.


I know that I am talented at my job, and I have been told that I am, but its funny you should say this, because my motivation is absolutely terrible. Its something I wish I could change, but I dont know if I ever can...
 
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archosman

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Talent -

1) A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment. See Synonyms at ability.
2)a.Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality


Skill


1) Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience


I would say I'm talented and skilled. I've been doing the same job for 15 years to qualify for skill, I've gotten good enough at it to know I have a talent for it. Case in point...

I work for a video post production facility. All of our product that goes out of our facility must adhere to SMPTE broadcast standards. If it doesn't then it gets kicked back and we must fix it. You should see the video standards that PBS has for it's shows. Whooeee... we've had a few come back! They have an individual go through those shows with a fine tooth comb. That's why you'll never see anything quality questionable on PBS. The one thing I am seeing now is all these kids coming out of college that don't have the basics anymore, i.e. don't know how to read a waveform/vectorscope and most importantly be able to paint by eye. Now that we have Final Cut and Premiere anyone who has a computer can become an "editor"... and that's not a good thing. Out of all of the MiniDV tapes I've gone through over the years only one client is consistant in video and audio levels. That's really bad folks. I do have a Proc Amp that will crush and/or force all video levels to a legal standard. But you all know the old saying about garbage in, garbage out. It needs to be right before it ever gets to me. I had another facility down the street who sent up a master they edited for closed captioning. As I'm watching the captioning go down there was a huge spike in whites that went way ove 100 units. Due to time I had to do a hack fix on it. It worked... it looks good but there is also no excuse for it. If we had sent one of our masters to them for a project they would have kicked it back. So in that aspect I have talent to think on my feet and know of a way of fixing things without having to have a big pow-wow over it. My skill comes in finding these little crappy gems and taking appropriate action. I tell you... if it doesn't get any better I'm seriously thinkinig of getting out of the field. Hopefully if HD ever completely takes off then there will be no room for the kind of amateur crap I deal with on a weekly basis.
 
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archosman

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... or for that matter do you watch "AMERICAN CHOPPER"? Those guys have the skill to put a bike together. They have the talent to fabricate a part to make something work on the bike.
 
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plainsong

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Hmm, I think it's best to quote my voice teacher from college on this one. She was the best voice teacher anyone could ever hope for, and she had some real theories on how to properly train the voice, and had hoped the write a book one day on the subject. I hope she gets around to that one day.

She said, and I believe she's right, that she could teach anyone to sing and improve their skill to a higher standard and better sound than when they first walked through the door.

But how much better? That depends on natural talent. Everyone has a limit given their natural talent for it. In other words, some will improve only a tiny bit and others' natural talent will just blossom as they learn the skills.

Of course there are factors such as drive and time put in practicing, but you're still going to hit that talent barrier....eventually. Whether it's 5 minutes or 50 years depends on your natural talent.

I think this can be applied at welding too, so I agree with Tuberoller.
 
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Damn I wish had talent now
 
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fewtch

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Great talent + great skill = very rare, I think.

Specialized skill without much talent is pretty common, talent without much specialized skill not so common (but still not too hard to find).

In this world we live in, I think basically talentless but highly skilled people tend to do best (in the work world, anyway). Too much talent can threaten the status quo.

Just IMHO on all of this.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by wallijonn
Talent is being able to think abstractly. Skill is learnt. She is right, skill is necessary only to do a job. But to do it really well will take talent. When an unforseen obstacle comes into play those with skill may be flabbergasted. Those that have talent will usually figure out a remedy quickly. Talented people will take those skills and become very proficient at it. A skilled person may never 'think outside the box'.


Bingo. Skill will let you do things which you've learned or been taught. It's more or less just the ability to consistently repeat something which you've done before. Talent is what allows you to "do things by feel" so to speak, and to improvise solutions to pesky problems.

For instance when I worked as a bicyle mechanic in a shop, we had guys who could swap parts & fix things faster than I could. But if something weird happens, they get stuck. I can look at the same problem and go "yeah, just file it down and it'll fit" or "cut a shim out of a popcan and it'll work". I just instinctively know how to do things.

As for whether or not talent is needed, it depends on the job. At my old mechanic's job where we ran across weird problems on a frequent basis, it's absolutely required. At an assembly line job, you just need the skill to slap things together.
 
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fewtch

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You guys are talking about simple skills though. Try skills like oil painting, computer programming, playing a musical instrument proficiently. Some skills can be extremely difficult to master, and it may take a lifetime of practice to maintain that skill. Yet, it remains a skill and the person who has it may lack talent. A skilled but untalented violinist is probably suited for producing Muzak for elevators, but probably won't make it onto many of the recordings we listen to. Even so, it could hardly be called easy to play the violin.
 
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Talent is like raw coal --
God endowed each of us with gifts
upon birth into His world.

only when
the student is ready,
the Master appears --
His expectations are enormous
His consistent pressure overwhelming --
Yet, skill develops.

A diamond perfect in
clarity, color, cut, and carat weight
is a rare and beautiful wonder
to behold in His world.
 
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