Frank Deford: “It May be a Curse to be Naturally Too Good at Something”

By Jack Limpert

The hardest thing for an editor is to watch is a writer on cruise control. After dealing with one talented writer just doing what was necessary to get paid, I found this quote from sportswriter Frank Deford and put it on the editorial bulletin board where it stayed for many years.

“It is my experience, with ballplayers and all other human beings, that skill is a gift of God, but that great skill demands perseverance. It may, in fact, be a curse to be naturally too good at something, because then the possessor of that bounty tends to coast. Of course, precocity is fine and dandy, and we have Mozart and Alexander of Macedon to prove it, yet I suspect that most our larger talents are not so immediately evident but must be developed and honed. Otherwise, you are just pretty good at something, but never grow to beauty. No, the full measure of proficiency surely only flows at the confluence of what God gave and the person nurtured.”

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