Talent is one of those qualities people seem to really admire. And to a certain point, I can see why. It’s easy to look at someone successful like a big writer, artist or other professional and conclude that their path to greatness was due to some internal ability on one else has.
Even recently I fell into that line of thinking while watching the Olympic athletes this year. I certainly couldn’t do those things. But I have news for you: talent isn’t everything. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider it one of the more important qualities you need to become successful.
Talent vs Non-Talent
The trouble with talent is that it doesn’t necessarily lead to success. It can help when you get a good jumps start to where you want to be, but doesn’t really do much by itself. It’s equally important what you do with that talent.
Keep in mind that no one relies on talent alone. All musicians, artists and writers spend hours every day honing their skills. If talent were enough, they wouldn’t need to do that.
Another problem with talent is how people generally perceive it. Talent implies a natural ability to excel in something. You either have it or you don’t. So if you don’t think you have it, you’ll be less likely to put in any time and effort to succeed.
And many people see talent as essential to achieving many goals.
How often have I heard:
“I could never write a novel since I don’t have the skills for it.”
“My natural abilities prevent me from running a marathon.”
And so on…
What they forget is all the other factors that go into making someone successful.
In fact, I’d say that these qualities matter even more:
Persistence is one of the simplest and best ways to succeed. Even the most talented of people face some obstacles and setbacks. Many even go through years of rejection and negative feedback before reaching their goals. Despite the talent, they must persist until they have made their way.
Look at the lesson from two talented writers, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. Stephen King faced many years of rejection letters before finally seeing anything published. J.K. Rowling had her first Harry Potter book rejected twelve times before finally getting picked up.
Talent and creativity are closely linked, but there is a significant difference. Creativity is innovative thinking. It’s when you bring into the world something that didn’t exist before. It’s when you can make something out of nothing.
Just imagine someone who is extremely talented at art. They can copy and mimic other artists to the point where you can’t tell the difference between the two. However, they are unable to come up with anything original or unique.
This is a huge difference you should be aware of. How far you take your talent can depend on creatively you use it. That’s how you separate yourself from everyone else.
3. Showing up
Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” What a great way to sum up something so simple, but still quite overlooked. All roads to success start by simply showing up and being ready to put in the work.
Just imagine how many people fail to do something before they even start. The person who never pursues their dreams simply because of negative thinking telling them they won’t succeed. It’s rather sad actually.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to be an extra in a movie being shot in Minneapolis. I didn’t make it in the movie, but one girl managed to make it in the background of a few key scenes. Her secret? She just showed up and asked if she could be in it.
4. Your personal network of connections
One thing I’ve seen documented over and over again as being critical to success in almost any field is networking. According to several studies, most jobs are found due to the contacts in your network. That’s how many romantic relationships begin too.
But more than that, networking can open you to new opportunities. How many new things have you tried because someone introduced you to them? Plus, your network can be a valuable source for new thoughts and opinions. There is a reason why businesses focus a lot of attention on networking – because it is important for recognizing and building new opportunities.
Thinking Past Talent
Talent may not be everything, but you should see that as a good thing. Instead of seeing talent as the only thing separating you from where you want to be, you can see the other factors you need to consider. The road to success isn’t entirely dependent on some internal ability, but other things as well.
photo credit: tochis