In Collins dictionary:
“Talent in British
Word origin of ‘talent’
Old English talente, from Latin talenta, pl of talentum sum of money, from Greek talanton unit of money or weight; in Medieval Latin the sense was extended to ability through the influence of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30)
- innate ability, aptitude, or faculty, esp when unspecified; above average ability.
- a person or persons possessing such ability.
- any of various ancient units of weight and money.
- informal: sexually attractive people collectively, esp those living in a particular place the local talent.
- an obsolete word for inclination
Talent in American
Word origin of ‘talent’
ME < OE talente < L talentum, a coin, orig., unit of weight < Gr talanton, a unit of money, weight, orig., a balance < IE base *tel-, to lift up, weigh, bear > tolerate: senses 2-4 from the parable of the talents (Matt: 25:14-30)
- any of various large units of weight or of money (the value of a talent weight in gold, silver, etc.) used in ancient Greece, Rome, the Middle East, etc.
- any natural ability or power; natural endowment
- a superior, apparently natural ability in the arts or sciences or in the learning or doing of anything
- people collectively, or a person, with talent”
Some other dictionaries:
(Someone who has) a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught.”
Despite these definitions with such a vague meaning, we usually use this word in everyday life with some frequency. Quite often, I would say. Phrases such as “This kid has/has no talent” accompany young people in their development, be it sport, art or any activity that they develop.
What we adults do not understand is the damage that the misuse of a wrong definition of this word can cause.
One of the meanings says: “innate ability, aptitude, or faculty, esp when unspecified; above average ability”. There is no mention that such SKILL or ABILITY is developed through dedication and work or fallen from the sky upon the described person. There is no mention, nor can there be, since our human understanding cannot track it on something divine, nor genetic, nor something that refers to a pre-embryonic world.
So, what can we call talent?
I am not going to elaborate on the etymology of this word or on studies of ancient societies, but there are certain curiosities that one should know before speaking about Talent, such as:
In Roman times, 1 TALENT amounted to 6000 denarii and each denarius corresponded to the daily salary of a worker. We must bear in mind that at that time we did not talk about work of 8 hours a day, or rest on weekends, or holidays, as in the present. Well, those 6000 denarii, working every day, all day long, corresponded to the payment of approximately 16.5 years of work. And I assure you that, if someone dedicates that time to his craft, that person will have 1 talent in whatever he does.
Another, more recent curiosity, where the definition we give to TALENT originates, is in the New Testament, with its mention in the parables of St. Matthew (25: 14–30) and St. Luke (19: 11–27). The curiosity is that in St. Matthew all 3 servants have talents, although of different amounts and in St. Luke all the servants have the same amount: 1 talent. Each of them “works” in different ways and generates different benefits from what they have and the one that gets “punished” is who “buries” it. THERE IS NO SERVANT THAT DOES NOT HAVE ANY TALENT. Should we take that into account?
There is also an already medieval definition of that word in Ancient French that has certain curious references such as: will, inclination, desire. These references define a direction, a vision to be materialized.
Current use of the Word
We must not forget that originally a TALENT was a CURRENCY or WEIGHT UNIT. The two things reflect development. The currency itself has a reference to something that one has to earn. All currencies in its origin represent something that is exchanged for something else. I do not speak of concepts such as stealing, which some in our society have developed to generate that CURRENCY, since it seems to me something out of all education based on elementary values.
So, the origin of that word is based on development and work. But every time I hear the word TALENT nowadays, it has opposite references to the original sense.
Now I want to analyze all the references with which that word is used today. To say that someone has a talent for many means:
- The person manages to complete a difficult activity with ease.
- The person does without much effort something that for others involves more effort.
Whenever the word talent is pronounced there are two references that it has. One is the lack of effort and the other meaning is something given from an unknown, divine, or that one brings from before his/her birth.
I will give examples through tennis, which is the subject I know, but the same idea can be transferred to any other activity.
The denomination of talent in tennis normally refers to:
- Ease of mastering the ball, feeling, sensations, touch as we call on the court.
- The beauty of shots, the fluidity of strokes, game development without spending much energy achieving goals of greater effort.
These two concepts, are the main aspects of why you call a player: TALENT.
The ease of mastering the ball or the touch, is it something with what one is born or something that one works to achieve? Let’s talk about certain players that lack a sense of effort or value of respect.
The player who is physically in minimal effort in training, usually hits the ball in awkward positions, since she/he does not move. These awkward positions force the wrist (touch) to get adapted to each shot and that multiplied by days and years of repetition generates a huge TOUCH facility. This way a “lazy” player develops the wrist, has good feelings and good touch and all that he/she gets as part of her/his NO WORK, NO EFFORT. All this in my point of view cannot be praised and does not belong to a divine gift but to simple laziness and disrespect for what he/she does.
Let’s go to the other case, the value of respect: toying around. We have always seen players who play around disrespectfully with their opponents, thinking they are better than others. Those players when they see certain ease of winning the game begin to generate shots that seem as some with less effort, thus humiliating their opponents since just winning is not enough for them. That type of game multiplied by days and years of development generates certain strokes that may seem deceptively easiness… but no, it is just a repetition of something in a certain way that in its origin is based on something not praiseworthy.
So far, I have talked about negative aspects of reference to this word, but there is something else that, without being negative, does come from human nature and we can track it in the development of the human being without blaming the Gods.
This other aspect has to do with the mechanism of a human being and capacity of learning, with its prism of perceiving information and ways of transforming it into operation and her/his realization. That aspect, symbolically, is called: mental or emotional prism. There is also a third category, but it is very rare and difficult to trace, although its definition could be referred to as “the word” since these people are mostly creative and pronounce themselves.
The reason for these 3 definitions lies in reaching a depth of the human being that we can track through its development and actions, reaching layer by layer seeing in which depth we have possibilities to generate a change and where the external changes lose the force. To date, the untouchable aspect, where we cannot teach or change anything, the maximum traceable depth, is this specific definition of personality and we do not know how it is generated. (I exclude changes or genetic interventions and speak only about the natural development format).
Let’s return to the MENTAL / EMOTIONAL part of humanity and see how it affects one thing or another to the development of a child. First, it should be announced in LOUD VOICE that none of them have privileges over the other. Both aspects are equally valuable, although they have two different worlds of operation. Let’s see how each one works.
Mental Prism (Symbolic Denomination)
The student with Mental Prism has certain very personal characteristics. His learning includes a lot of precision and ability to reach a very high concentration intensity. We are going to say that it is a sprinter of focus and for that reason its graph would be to reach very high peaks, but also to have its falls, being able to climb up again. Her/his body reacts with the same precision to generate gestures in learning and has a very specific quality: it learns through relaxation.
All these aspects at the development or visual level are translated to:
- Has fluid gestures.
- Technically manages to find greater ease of the body to adapt to the court.
- It has few interferences for the technique to get dirty.
- He/she is a precision player at work.
- He/she has ups and downs of both physical intensity and focus (I do not say mental not to mean work only in mental/cerebral aspect since it is broader).
- And it has variable peaks.
Emotional Prism (Symbolic Denomination)
The student with Emotional Prism has no fewer valuable characteristics. His/her work is in the strip of greater physical intensity. His emotional involvement drags in greater percentage bodywork. Emotional interference is usually reflected in her/his body. It maintains a higher constancy at high intensities and has fewer ups and downs. His/her work is based on a great capacity for the physical effort that in turn generates stress-based learning.
These aspects at the development level are translated into:
- He/she can face a greater volume of work.
- Constant high medium intensity.
- Few peaks of ups and downs.
- Learn based on tension and therefore you do not see much fluency.
- It is usually dirty at a technical level, especially in growth.
- Develops extraordinary physical qualities and the ability to overcome difficulties.
As we have seen in both cases, each one has its main aspects and others that it should develop but which will never be its weapons. Also, in training, it would be a serious mistake to work with an Emotional player, for example, the development line of a Mental player and vice versa, since it would create an internal conflict and the result would be unsuccessful.
With everything we have seen above, with slight changes depending on different times and societies, what we call TALENT and motivate young people to appear is:
- Less effort.
- No to work.
- Not respecting the work.
- Not respecting the opponent.
Is that really what we want to teach them?
Think of each one of the references when you say “talent” and you will see that most of the time you pronounce it, it will lead you to: NO EFFORT or GIFT FROM THE UNKNOWN.
Talent DOES exist!
Yes, although the whole article is based on denying what today’s society calls as talent, even so, I believe in its existence and I have seen it in many young people that I have known throughout my professional career.
The talent that I have seen in each one of them is UNIQUE and IRREPETIBLE, as the hallmark of each personality, their own way of seeing the world. Most of that talent and its discovery in the person is traceable. I repeat: its discovery, since the axis of that capacity and its secret is personal and non-transferable. All talent is the result of great development work and aimed at self-discovery.
And that leads me to another assertion: WE ALL HAVE TALENT BUT NOT ALL OF US DISCOVERS IT. And our job as a guide as, in my case, as a coach, pushes and motivates me to help each student find his/her talent … Although sometimes the search can last a lifetime.