Talent is not good enough for success
Too many times we here about the child prodigy who has a talent or skill that beats anything that we have seen, or the individual with the incredibly high IQ. But the issue is that we rarely hear any follow up stories about these especially talented or gifted people years later. There seems to be no news or story saying that the talented person identified years ago achieved something great or contributed something that changed the world. The pervasive thinking in society is from the belief that those who succeed are extremely talented people. I call this the talent myth.
No doubt many people who succeed can be said to be talented, given its conventional definition, however if we really carefully examine the lives of successful people versus that of the child prodigy, we will find that it seems that those who turned out to successful were diligent and hardworking, making them look especially talented or gifted.
Malcom Gladwell in his book Outliers talks about the ten-thousand hour rule, stating that it takes about ten-thousand hours to workout one’s potential to the point where a person becomes a virtuoso. To illustrate this principle, he cites a study done by German psychologist, Ericsson on young violinist. These students had similar skill levels and they had all begun playing at around five years of age. The young violinist were all putting in similar practice times initially, but by age eight, the practice times began to diverge. Some of the violinist were putting in more hours of practice, and by age twenty, the elite performers had put in two to three times more hours of practice than the rest. In essence, irrespective of your current ability (or talent) level, you can take deliberate steps to practice your talent, along with constant learning, so you will make continuous and constant progress.
It is a myth to think that your talent is all you need to succeed. You may feel like you have no special endowment, and may have written of yourself as one who will succeed, but you should know that you can make a choice to succeed. Those who succeed in life, at some point made a choice to be successful at what they do. You must decide on success and follow through on your commitment to succeed.
The idea that luck plays a part in the making of success is not one that I buy into. I wont want you to get me wrong, I do believe in divine providence, and I know God’s grace plays a big part in this. However I think the average Christian’s concept of God’s grace is limited or flawed. Paul the apostle will agree with me, he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10-11). He is attesting to the fact that God’s abundant grace towards him is what gave him the ability to be more diligent in his ministry endeavors.
Know that following the discovery of purpose, God has endowed each and everyone with a unique set of abilities necessary to fulfill purpose on earth. Yours may not be as glamorous as you imagine it will be (rather as glamorous as what the media and pop culture celebrates). It is up to you to identify what you’re good at, and what your own unique abilities are and hone them.
Once you have made the decision to succeed and identified what your own talent and abilities are, you need discipline and commitment. The only hindrance to your personal development is yourself. You need commitment to stay the course of your developmental regimen, and discipline is required to remain faithful despite the challenges you will face.
Hard work in developing your talent is required. In the making of success, there is not substitute for hard work. Success does not belong to the lazy. Average is mediocre, and for you to be extraordinary in the use of your abilities, you must put consistently put in above average efforts. The apparent opportunities of life are available to those who are willing to put in average efforts, but the tougher the challenge, the less the competition, and the greater the opportunity, because it is reserved for those who will put in above average effort.
Another attribute of the seemingly talented is the desire to constantly learn. It’s like the process of refinement. Nothing in its raw form ever holds as great a value compared to when refined. Education (or learning) trains your inner faculties, but it’s not just enough to learn, you must also apply what has been learned. In developing your talent, you must devote yourself to learning all about your craft. You must study to show yourself exceptional at what you do. With each new thing you learn, apply it. Apply yourself to every new concept until you master it and then proceed to add additional knowledge.
Wisdom is the relevant application of knowledge. The iterative process of acquiring knowledge and applying it will take you from being someone once considered an average Joe/Jane to being a talented/gifted individual.
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