Credit: Colin Anderson
Wherever you are in IT, you've probably come across colleagues who were extremely skilled at their jobs -- system administrators who can bend a zsh shell to their every whim, or developers who can write lengthy functions that compile without a whimper the first time. You've probably also come across colleagues who were extremely talented -- who could instantly visualize a new infrastructure addition and sketch it out to extreme detail on a whiteboard while they assembled it in their head, for example, or who could devise a new, elegant UI without breaking a sweat.
The truly gifted among us exhibit both of those traits, but most fall into one category or another. There is a difference between skill and talent. Such is true in many vocations, of course, but IT can present a stark contrast between the two.
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Part of the reason for that is that we might consider someone skilled if they need little or no documentation to accomplish a certain task. A skilled chef can make a meal without requiring a recipe, for instance, and a skilled network admin can make major changes to production switches and routers without calling up a CLI reference guide to check syntax.
A talented chef, on the other hand, may think along different lines and construct an entirely unique dish for which there is no recipe. A talented system administrator may do much the same, assembling various tools in a unique way and devising a method around a problem that hadn't been attempted before. This may require some research and reference instead of rote knowledge, but the end result is something that wouldn't have otherwise existed, and is something for which there are no guidelines.