The Many Faces of Talent

Are you talented? How do you know? How do others know? Do they appreciate your talent or do you feel it is misunderstood?

Wandering through Paris has given me the chance to see some work from my favourite artists and reflect on what we mean by talent.


What Do We Mean?

- Do we mean Da Vinci, whose talent was multi-disciplinary, mixing the arts with STEM to produce cutting-edge work and ideas in both areas?

- Do we mean Picasso, a bona fide genius at twenty years of age, who became bored with how art was interpreted and launched himself on an idiosyncratic journey of personal discovery?

- Do we mean Van Gogh, misunderstood and unappreciated in his lifetime only to be celebrated as revolutionary years after his death?

- Or do we mean Cezanne, who spent decades trying to master basic draftsmanship before producing works of genius in his mid-fifties onwards?


Talent takes many forms and emerges in very different ways. Our ways of measuring it in today’s organisations are too narrow.

We assume talent is young and specialist, like Picasso, which leads us down cul-de-sacs of disengagement when we might grow, explore and flourish.

How we see talent limits possibility - the very opposite of our intention. Is it time for a bit of a rethink?