Do you have the X Factor?

Screen shot 2011-07-09 at 11.07.21 AMThe X-Factor is sometimes misunderstood as inborn natural talent. You either have it or you don’t. We have no doubt all heard someone at sometime say that such and such has the X-Factor as if they always had it. The X-factor in actual fact is usually the result of years of study and practice and even then often goes unrecognised for years. In the case of actors and musicians they will likely experience hundreds of failed auditions before finally becoming recognized. The classic scene from the show X-Factor where the undiscovered talent seems to just come out of nowhere is far from reality. The show portrays this idea to excite people sitting in their lounge rooms that they too might have the X- Factor.

The truth behind undiscovered talent

Undiscovered talent is likely just talent that took years to reach maturity and shows like X-Factor provide a quick and easy way to reach the public but even so there is usually still much work to be done in terms of a polished performance. Its unlikely that Susan Boyle will be strutting the stage like Madonna or Steven Tyler anytime soon. Pick any successful act today and I can almost guarantee they worked very hard and had more than a few set backs along the way. It’s just par for the course.

So why do people fall for the X-factor myth?

When we pay closer attention to the media, Hollywood and Cinderella type stories we can better understand how we get seduced by the myth. In fact I would say we want to be seduced. We want to believe that suddenly with no effort we will possess some amazing talent that will solve all our problems. When I was a kid growing up in the 70’s the most popular TV shows were ‘Bewitched’ and  ‘I dream of Jeannie’  which had characters who possessed magical powers. These shows while obviously complete fantasy were popular because we wanted to believe them. Who wouldn’t want such powers or a relative who could zap the school bully or instantly turn you into a guitar hero? The fact is these shows were just the obvious examples. The more subtle shows were the ones where the character just happens to be a naturally talented singer or dancer or athlete etc. To answer the question, we fall for the X-factor myth because it gives us hope but I am sorry to say it’s a false hope. The good news is the truth is in fact a much better deal because for most of us its achievable.

Forget the X-factor and focus on the Why-factor

When someone possesses extraordinary talent rather than assuming they were born with the X-factor simply ask the following question.”Why is this person so talented or successful?” This question will lead you to the truth which is almost always about hard work and persistence. Sure some people get lucky breaks and some are born with certain advantages or into favorable conditions but there really is no evidence to support the idea that without such advantages you have no chance. In fact talent is nearly always learned and the result of practice and is often the result of hardships. Once you accept this fact the only thing between you and your talent goal is practice. Forget the X-Factor and focus on the Why and for guitar that means practicing.

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