Sunday, December 4, 2011

Can Passion Overcome Talent?

People often talk about talent. Someone can be talented in many areas, such as business, design, language, math, martial arts, writing, or negotiation. However, it appears that people do not talk about passion as much as talent. We tend to categorize anyone who is successful as talented and ignore his passion and effort. However, both effort and passion are key factors for success. Which is more important, passion or talent? In other words, what is the most critical factor for success?

Minoru has a friend named Takuro. Minoru and Takuro met while attending junior high school in downtown Tokyo. They lived in the same neighborhood and became very good friends. They walked to school together, played together, and studied together. Soon, Minoru discovered that Takuro was talented in many areas. Takuro received high scores on examinations in almost every subject. He was also a good athlete who could run fast, swim fast, and jump high. In addition, Takuro was good at many kinds of ball games, such as baseball, basketball, volleyball, or football.

Minoru's academic achievements were not poor. However, he needed to study hard in order to get a score above average or higher. He was not very good at sports and played poorly in all ball games. He hated running, because he was always last. In contrast, Takuro did not seem to need any extra preparation or hard work to attain high scores. Minoru had never seen Takuro practice the skills or techniques of ball games. He thought Takuro was simply talented. No matter how hard Minoru tried, he could not perform better than Takuro.

Minoru, however, liked English. He was not so good at grammar and his vocabulary was still poor, but he loved watching American movies. He tried to copy the expressions used in the movies. His pronunciation was terrible, but he tried to use his new idioms with foreigners whom he happened to meet on the street. In junior high, Takuro's score in English was higher than Minoru's. It was the end of their senior high school days; Minoru's grade started to pick up slowly but steadily. By the end of senior high, Minoru was one of a few who could use English to communicate with foreigners. Minoru and Takuro graduated from the same high school and entered the same university.

Minoru majored in academic debate in English. Although he had lost many matches earlier, he would win second prize in the All Japan English Debate tournament during his last year at the university. Takuro would no longer be superior to Minoru in English. Takuro needed Minoru's help for his English exam. There were few who could compete against Minoru's English at his university any more. Looking back, Minoru thought that he could do it not because he was talented in English, but because he was passionate about the language. He even thought that he would not be able to achieve it if he were merely talented.

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