You can become a “natural”

By David Joel Miller

Can you learn to be a natural?

When it comes to ability there are two schools of thought.

Natural skill

Natural skill
“Image courtesy of”.

One group says that people are either born with a talent or they are out of luck. This used to be the prevailing theory. There are still a lot of folks who cling to this notion. They would have us believe that some folks are born to be poor, stupid and uneducated and other people are born to be rich, privileged and perfect.

The other school of thought decrees that people are all born with some genetic abilities but how those talents grow and develop are heavily influenced by the training they receive and the skills they develop.

School one says that if you are clumsy, that is the way you are and you will be clumsy the rest of your life. Coaches from this school search far and wide and try to recruit talent for their teams.

Coaches from the second school, the incremental skills school, look for ways to help the players they have develop more and better skills.

Personally, I think there is strong evidence for the second school. People who initially did not look like they could do something can often outplay, out study and outperform those people who initially looked like “naturals.”

Naturals are developed over time not born that way. Some people who should have made the natural list never got the training they needed and as a result did not become the “natural” they could have become.

Some examples.

We expect that the tallest people should be the best at basketball. Yes good players often enjoy the benefits of being above average in height, but have you ever known a really tall person who just could not play basket ball? Are their short people who turn out to be extraordinary players? Appearances do not make for naturals and neither do inborn qualities.

The college degrees often do not go to the smartest people. We all know plenty of really smart people who did not apply themselves and as a result failed to finish their education. Education does not always equal ability or opportunity but in many areas of life, without the education you don’t get to play the game in the first place.

“Naturals” practice – a lot.

If high levels of ability were all about being a natural, those top players would never need to practice. The truth is that the best players practice repeatedly until the things the want to do become automatic actions. They train themselves until they become that “natural” they wanted to be.

You have to practice the things that need improvement.

Highly successful people do not focus only on the things they do well. The difference between the top athletes and the next level down is that the top people continue to practice the things they do not do well until those things become part of their A routine. Those people who aspire to greatness but never make it often look for the things that they are good at, the things that they think reflect some natural ability and then they practice what they are good at. Maintaining skills by practice is a good thing, but failing to improve yourself will prevent you from reaching the goals you would like to achieve.

The best way to be cone a natural is to find something that is an underdeveloped talent and practice this until you become proficient at it.

What thing would you like to look so good at that people would think you were a natural at it? Are you willing to work and practice until you become one of those high achieving people?

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


4 thoughts on “You can become a “natural”

  1. Hey David, how’s things?
    I always felt like I was no good at anything. I judged that by not being educated. 🙂
    Then I bought a home and renovated it. I found my niche so to speak. I’ve renovated 8 homes and I found what I was good at. Loved your post. Huge hugs Paula xxxx


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