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What's the Difference Between Talent and Skill?

The main difference between talent and skill is the acquisition of ability. Talent is an ability that an individual has inherently through genetics and heredity. Skill, on the other hand, is an ability that a person learns or masters through practice, training, or repetition.

What is Talent?

Talent is the inherent, in-born, natural aptitude or quality that enables an individual to perform a certain action effortlessly and seamlessly. It is often referred to as “God-given ability.” Talents could be acquired and passed down to an individual through genetics and heredity. It commonly surfaces during the early stages of a person’s life. It could be observed and distinguished by what a toddler is interested in and what keeps the toddler’s attention. However, some talents remain undiscovered and unexplored until later in life.

What is Skill?

Skill is the acquired, learned, and practiced ability that makes an individual capable of performing tasks successfully, precisely, and with certainty. It is a combination of ability, cleverness, and expertise that can be categorized as practical knowledge. Skills are acquired and developed over time and repetition. It is job-related expertise obtained through systematic training and immersion. It is commonly discovered, tried, and developed later in life through the necessity of task accomplishment or just plain interest.

Differences between Talent and Skill

Talent and Skill are two distinct, unique, and original terms that are often confused about. The usage of these two terms is commonly interchanged. However, there are clear areas wherein the scope and limitations of these two terms are distinguishable.

Ability Acquisition

Talents are innate, intrinsic, and intuitive. A person’s talent has always been a part of his character, quality, and humanity. It is often expressed by an individual through a personal interpretation of the world and is influenced by the emotions an individual is feeling towards it.

Skills are empirical, practical and technical. A person’s skill set is often acquired through trial and error, training, and mastery. Skills are often developed through time and repetition of certain tasks that aim to accomplish a goal.

Kinds or Examples

Talent, by definition, is the quality and aptitude of an individual. So, talent doesn’t only refer to the ability to sing, dance, or create art well but also refers to the ability to be adaptable, to be inquisitive, to be self-reliant and so on.

Skills, from the definition, can be referred to as “learned experience.” So, skills are acquired through a series of actions. Examples of skills are Computer Programming, Language Proficiency, Practice of Law, Professionalism, and other abilities that take time to learn and master.

Etymology

The term “Talent” was a unit of measurement used in ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia and Akkadian-Sumer from the end of the 4th Millenium BC up to the 3rd Millennium BC. It is called “Kakkaru”. The term was also found in Classical Antiquity. In ancient Greek, it is called “Talanton”, which means “scale”, “balance” or “sum”. In Latin, it is called “Talentum” which means “will”, “desire”, or “learning”. In Middle English, it was called “Talente” which means “purpose”, “plan”, “capacity”, or “character”.

The term “Skill” came from the Old Norse word “Skil” which means “distinction”. Old Norse language was used by the ancient Scandinavians and was introduced to English by the raids of Vikings in the 8th century. It can also be attributed to the Swedish word “skal” and the Danish word “skjel” and “Skel”. Around 1200, the meaning of the word “Skill” meant “reasons as a faculty of the mind; the power of discrimination.” This meaning is now obsolete. Although the meaning changed over the course of history it still makes sense. “The ability to make distinction” could be an analogy that a skill set of an individual makes one “distinct” and stand out from the competition.

Discovery and Development

Everyone has their own unique, innate talent. However, to be able to unlock or discover what that might be, exploration and experience with various kinds of activities and situations are needed. It might not be obvious but it needs to be nurtured and guided in the right direction to be able to recognize what it is.

Skills could be learned by anyone through time, effort, and willpower. To be able to be good at a certain task or job, one must undergo a process of training and development to attain a certain degree of expertise. An individual’s skill set is determined by his own interest and limitations for any type of skill that could be learned.

Comparison Chart: Talent Vs Skill

SpecificationsTalentSkill
AcquisitionNatural, In-Born, Innate, Hereditary, “God-given”Obtained, Learned, Mastered, Trained
Kinds or ExamplesAdaptive, Inquisitive, Independent, Artistic Expression and ImaginationProgramming, Language Proficiency, Practice of Law, Professionalism, Communication
Etymology“Kakkaru” Mesopotamia and Akkadian-Sumer
“Talanton” Ancient Greek
“Talentum” Latin
“Talente” Middle English
“Skil” Old Norse
“Skal” Swedish
“Skjel” and “Skel” Danish
Discovery and DevelopmentThrough exploration and experienceThrough the necessity of task accomplishment or interest
GuidanceMentoringCoaching

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Soft Skills considered Talents?

Soft skills are personal qualities that make an individual thrive in certain groups or situations. They are indicatives of good practices that are often desirable, ideal, and universal. Although they are referred to as “qualities”, no one is born punctual, professional, multitasking, and attentive to details. These qualities require time, trials, and mastery to be able to be attributed as part of an individual's skill.

What are some Examples of Hard Skills?

Hard skills are technical, job-specific, “know-how” abilities that are performed effectively. It is a requirement to do certain tasks accordingly. Hard skills are quantifiable and measurable. Some examples of hard skills are Typing Speed, Bookkeeping, Project Management, and Affiliate Marketing. These types of skills are learned through time, training, and experience.

Is Everyone Talented?

Every person has a unique and distinct talent. Talent consists of how we think, what we are motivated to do, and how we behave. These are indicative of where an individual might be thriving if one isn’t sure of what talents he or she has. In addition to that, the individuality of talents is recognized by the education system as it is inspired and patterned to let a person learn, explore, and discover what his or her passion and purpose are.

Conclusion

Talents and Skills are part of an individual’s journey through learning and self-discovery. Life itself is a never-ending process of learning. Whether to discover new interests through curiosity or necessity, or self-discovery through exploration, learning never stops. Pursuing talents gives us a sense of passion and purpose in life. On the other hand, learning and mastery of skills give us a sense of accomplishment and progress in life. Everyone has their own place in this world, we just have to learn more by using our talents and skills.

References

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
All Posts Written By Nicolas Seignette

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