My Random House dictionary defines talent as, "A special natural ability or aptitude." I think that is right. If it is, then everyone has talent! It may not be the talent they think they want, but it is there. Nature knows balance, and it constantly seeks to restore it. That means there is a reason every person is here. Somehow, they add something to life that no one else could bring.
I have heard, "I have absolutely no talent," from a lot of people over my lifetime. Just because you want to be a world-class singer, and you can't even carry a tune, doesn't mean you aren't talented. Just because you can't dance, draw, paint, or solve complicated math problems does not mean you are not talented.
Talent doesn't have to convey fame. It is just the characteristic that makes each person so valuable to life in a special way.
I will illustrate my point by enumerating some of the talents in the people who have graced my life. I have several friends who seem to know how to unconditionally love and accept others. Some of my friends know how to give support in a special way. A couple of people in my life have made me laugh more easily than any famous comedian could. Besides his patience and sensitivity, my husband has a talent for channeling his focus 100% into whatever task he is working on. I am in awe of others for their extraordinary creative ability. My uncle, who is 95, completely lights up a room with his smile. I could go on.
But you still want to know how people become talented at art, singing, math, etc. Don't you? This is where it really gets interesting to me.
Gallup.com says, "Although talents, skills, and knowledge are each important for building a strength, talent is always the most important. The reason is that your talents are innate and cannot be acquired, unlike skills and knowledge. For example, as a salesperson you can learn your products' features (knowledge), you can be trained to ask the right open-ended questions (a skill), and you can practice making a sale (investment). However, the innate tendency to push a customer to commit at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right way must be naturally occurring and cannot be learned."
Talent can be hidden, even from the one who possesses it, until it begins to be explored and exercised. You say you have no musical ability. Have you taken a class, practiced and failed, or tried to develop a musical talent in some other way? If not, then you cannot know that you are not talented in music. From the same Gallup source above,"The latest science suggests we are all capable of extraordinary performance in some domain of expertise."
Talent is described by Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton as a package of personal characteristics that accelerates the development of expertise or improves performance in an area where a certain amount of expertise exists. From this, we can conclude that the characteristic that facilitates getting better faster at something is talent.
Past researchers in the realm of talent believe that talent is usually developed only after 10 years of concentrated practice in a certain discipline. But there are exceptions to this rule. Some are able to hone their talent much, much faster. Determination, focus, and motivation can allow more rapid development in a person when compared to another person who is lacking those characteristics.
Recent studies in epigenetics have pointed to the fact that heredity is not the final determiner in who has talent. Environment plays a bigger role. Consider a young man, for example, who may have shown exceptional ability as a violinist, but he was born to parents who were uneducated, poor, and may have even discouraged his desire to take up music. Compare that to the same young man who was given a violin as a child. Say he was curious enough to pick it up and play with it. Then he noticed violinists performing and enjoyed their music. Then maybe in school he chose the violin as his band instrument since he already owned one. From there on, given the right amount of encouragement and desire to learn and excel, he may have become "quite talented."
So what can we do to find our talent or help our children find theirs? Keep looking. Explore areas that seem interesting or promising. Once a person finds the endeavor that puts them in "the zone" that matches their unique combination of personal characterististics, it can be nurtured so that it has every chance of developing into a talent.
We were raised to believe we should strive to be well-rounded individuals. That may be true until a strong interest, aptitude, or passion begins to show itself. After that, attempts at being well rounded get in the way.The way to develop talent is to be encouraged and supported to practice it diligently so that it has the best chance of reaching its highest point of excellence.