I’ll take someone driven, or visionary, or hard-working over just talented any day. I actually think we falsely label hard-workers or fast-learners or fail-fasters as talented all the time as a way to make ourselves feel better about our inadequacies.
That said, talent isn’t everything. In fact talent can lead to nothing quite easily!
Here are 4 things talent can’t overcome
Laziness – It doesn’t matter how good you are at something, if you’re lazy and you don’t deliver on time or do the right things… you’ll fail every time.
Bad timing – This would be a horrible time to develop a talent on the accordion. Or get really good at writing code for the Palm Pilot. Success in the present age is about timing. It’s not good enough to be talented. You have to be talented at the things that people are looking for.
Immaturity – Maturity brings the wisdom to know what to do with talent.
Character flaws – No one cares how talented you are when you’re a jerk or a liar or if you step on kittens tails.
The other side of this coin is pretty fantastic. We all have something which could be labeled a talent. That’s the very nature of a free market society. I have skills/talents in one thing and you have talent/skills in another. So we trade goods. Or I trade your good for cash.
If we all had equal aptitude life would be pretty boring.
Forget all of that Biggest Looser emotional stuff about being fat. “I don’t want my kids to know their dad is fat. I want to live longer. I need a new strart.” Yada. Yada. Yada. That’s all just TV psychobabble to me. If it works for you, awesome. But that show just makes me hungry. I love that there is a commercial during the weigh-ins so I have time to refill my ice cream bowl.
One thing I hate about being out of shape is where all of those extra candy bars, slices of pizza, and cheeseburgers end up. The belly, the butt, and for me… my upper chest. Blech.
And since I have the kind of friends who aren’t shy about pointing out my moobs I figure it’s probably time to do something about them.
So the last couple of weeks my running mantra has been: Run your moobs off.
Sure. It’s a bit crass. And surely it’s not Oprah approved. But it’s silly and makes me giggle and work hard at the same time. Right now, I’m about halfway to my initial goal of running a 5K without stopping and with just 5 weeks to go… I have many more hours of running my moobs off to go.
No easy way out
Whether I’m around professional golfers or big-time Christian leaders– one thing has been clear: It’s not merely that they are talented. It’s that they took a little bit of talent, a golden opportunity, and out-worked all of their peers to become the best.
The same thing is available to all of us.
Some people look at successful people with jealous eyes. They think, “Surely, they just got lucky.” Probably a little bit. But they also took the good fortune of an opportunity and made something out of it. Whatever their specialty is they have worked harder and smarter than you have.
Whatever your goal is… there’s no easy option coming.
For me, right now, it’s to run this 5K. For you? I don’t know what your goal is. But I do know this one fact:
I have a lifelong obsession with golf. It started in 2nd grade when my parents scraped together enough money for a starter set and a series of playing lessons at a local par 3 course. Even though neither of them were serious players– I guess they thought I’d enjoy it. And I did. A lot.
Don’t read that the wrong way.I’m not a country club kid. I’ve never belonged to a course where I got my own locker or had an account on file with the restaurant.
Instead, I grew up playing city-owned munis and family-owned courses. In middle school, my first membership to the local golf course cost my family $50. That also included an annual pool membership, ice rink membership, and anything else the Mishawaka Parks Department charged money for. I didn’t grow up playing with kids named Chip or Trevor. We were more of an Adam, Mike, and Tim kind of crowd. But golf was my obsession. All summer long, every day, I play 27, 36, or 45 holes of golf.
Here’s what I learned about success in golf that translates to life: We don’t have equal access to success
One fact that I love about golf, especially professional golf, is that anyone can become a professional in 7 days. Unlike any other professional sport on the planet I can start on Monday as a nobody and win a million dollars on Sunday. Just about anyone can enter a qualifier. And if you manage to qualify you are in the same tournament as the card carrying professionals on Thursday. And if you make the cut on Saturday, then manage to win on Sunday– they will hand you a big check and a Tour Card for the rest of the season.
Fat chance trying that in baseball, football, or basketball.
But that almost never happens. While there are several PGA Tour members who rose from poor backgrounds to earn their card on Tour I can’t name a single person who is currently on Tour who started as a Monday qualifier and turned a good 7 days into a career.
It can happen, but it is nearly impossible.
Instead, if you look at those who made it, you’ll see that their success is a combination of 3 qualities.
Talent – Talent is the constant. Talent is the difference between learning skills well enough to be pretty good and being a winner. Over the years I’ve played with and coached hundreds of people. But when you walk the course with a person who has a natural talent for the game… it’s amazing. Most amazing is that these players can rarely describe to you the mechanics of what they are doing. They just try stuff and it works.
Ambition/hard work – Talent isn’t enough. I’ve met plenty of talented players. Each high school team of 12-15 young men had 3-4 players with enough talent to take them to the next level. But if they aren’t single-focused enough they won’t advance in the game. An ambitious person never stops practicing. They putt in their living room. Hit wedges in their backyard. Keep a 7-iron and a bag of balls in their trunk to practice between meetings. They play 9-holes before work and chose vacations with great practice facilities.
Environment/resources – This is the X factor. This is the difference between a good local golfer and a professional. They have access to amazing resources. In most cases, their family has invested in them from a very young age. They played in expensive junior tournaments. They have great equipment. They have great coaching. And it results in opportunities to get to even better tournaments, more finely tuned equipment, and the best coaching.
You can be pretty good, above average, with two out of the three. But you’ll never be excellent. There are millions of guys putting their clubs in their trunks right now who have endless talent and ambition but aren’t in the right environment with the right resources to make it to the next level. And this weekend will be full of guys who pull up their Mercedes at a country club, with access to the best environment and resources and absolutely no talent for the game.
I don’t care about golf. What does this have to do with you or me?
We each have something we were created to be amazing at. There is something in our lives that we have talent, ambition, and resources to be the best at.
Identify that thing… no matter how obscure the niche`… and you’ll find the success you know you deserve.