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America’s Got Talent or America’s Got Hard Work?

America’s Got Talent or America’s Got Hard Work?

Have you noticed that there’s a current trend about having talents? One obvious example is the mega-hit TV show America’s Got Talent, which regularly attracts an audience of up to 14 million viewers.

This show is not just popular in America, however. Hugely successful versions of it can be found in countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.

I’m sure you’ve seen at least one episode of the TV show, so you’ll know the format: lots of unknown people performing entertaining and sometimes unique acts (e.g. dance, magic and songs).

As the name of the show suggests, the judges are looking for people or acts with an abundance of talent. For the average viewer at home, it’s easy to believe that talent is all that is needed to get on the show – and to potentially become rich and famous.

However, the reality is somewhat different.

Are We Putting Too Much Emphasis on Talent?

These days, people are quick to praise a person’s natural talent.

It’s as if people believe that natural talents count for more than skills developed over months and years. For instance, when watching a gifted sports person you’ve probably thought to yourself just how awesome they are.

And then there are the famous IQ and aptitude tests – which quickly separate the elites from the masses. (Companies choose to hire those with natural talents.)

Just take a look around at the news. Whoever has any major achievements will receive praise from the media and public for being so talented.

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The problem with this, is that talent gets continually put into the spotlight, while the real causes of success – effort and persistence – is seldom mentioned. This leads the majority of people to think that the only way to succeed in life is by having a strong or unique natural talent.

The present heavy focus on talent could be preventing a lot of people from achieving success.

    Don’t believe me? Just watch any of the current crop of dancing and singing contents. The majority of the time the judges will simply comment on skill and talent, and rarely (if ever), judge someone on how much effort or time they have put into learning something.

    This constant repetition of talent over effort is the cause of faulty beliefs, such as:

    • When someone is being praised for having talent, they may begin to rely on their talent, and stop putting in more effort to improve.
    • On the other hand, someone who’s been told they’re not talented may begin to doubt their own abilities, and believing that they aren’t talented they stop trying to develop.

    It’s easy to see how people can fall into the above traps, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    For example, think about Celine who got on the show. Was her success really just because of pure talent? Or could it be that for years she practiced and studied?

      In most cases, behind the natural talent, you’ll find people have also put in significant time and effort into developing it.

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      So, to say that someone is “talented” actually rudely neglects all the effort they have likely put into doing what they do. It’s a bit like an iceberg. We only see the visible part of the iceberg, while the bulk of the iceberg remains invisible to us below the water.

      And then there’s the problem of people using talent as an excuse to do nothing. You hear it all the time: “I just don’t have talent in that area, so why should I bother competing with people who do?”

      In the above case, talent becomes a self-made wall that blocks people from reaching their true potential… which is on the other side of the wall.

        It’s Really About the Effort You Put In

        For sure, there are such things as natural talents. These are the inborn abilities that we are gifted from our family’s gene pool. It’s the same reason why some people are small, and some people are tall.

        Everyone of us has unique talents and abilities. You may remember from school how some of your friends could ‘naturally’ jump higher or run faster than you. And if you ever did gymnastics or martial arts, you’ll have seen the wide-range of natural flexibility that people exhibited.

        People’s unique talents and abilities don’t have to be obvious either. For example, over the years I’ve come to realize that I read much quicker than the average person. However, unless you and I participated in a speed-reading contest, then you’d probably remain blissfully unaware of my talent.

        But forget what you’ve been told. It’s not a talent race. It’s about the effort you put in.

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          Hidden behind every so-called talented person is a great deal of effort and persistence. For example, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “having no original ideas” and “lacking imagination”; Michael Jordan locked himself in his room and cried, after being dropped from his high school basketball team; and Oprah Winfrey actually lost her job as a news anchor after producers said she “wasn’t fit for television.”

          Despite their individual setbacks, these three people went on to be tremendously successful, and of course, world famous. Looking back on their careers now, most people would assume that Disney, Jordan and Winfrey were blessed with natural talents. The truth, however, was very different. Sure, they were talented, but it was their efforts that really set them apart from the pack.

          Here’s how to discover your own unique talent and make it your biggest strength.

          1. Locate your interest

          People are much more satisfied with what they do, when they do things that match their personal interests. Ask yourself:

          • What do you care about most?
          • What do you enjoy doing the most?
          • What is the thing that you can’t bear at all?

          Then, spend some time narrowing down the options, until you find your key interest. And, if after this exercise, you’re still unsure what you’re really into, try doing different things.

          For instance, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Rowdy Gaines knew from a very young age that he loved sports. When he reached high school, he tried baseball, basketball, football, golf and tennis before settling for swimming. In other words, he kept trying out different things until he found something that he fell in love with.

          2. Build your strengths

          Once you’ve set your heart on a particular interest, think about whether you have the basic skills to make a success of it.

          What skills do you need to be equipped with? What skills and knowledge can you enhance? What other areas could you improve upon?

          Let’s say that you’ve determined that your interest is in singing. To have a chance at success, you’ll need to invest regular amounts of your time in practicing singing. You’ll also probably want to enlist the help of a singing tutor.

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          3. Get feedback and improve

          Once you start building up your strengths, you should turn to others for feedback.

          This is where a good tutor comes in. They can tell you where your weaknesses are, and how you can improve them. They can also offer you valuable support and encouragement as you develop your knowledge and skills.

          The high-achievers in life never stop learning. They continue to look for new ways to improve and keep reflecting on what they can do better. Instead of shunning feedback from others, they actively seek it. And then use this feedback to help them keep improving.

          Effort Will Get You Much Further Than Talent

          Great accomplishments don’t come simply from talent; instead, they come from immense effort.

          It’s this hard effort and persistence that separates the losers from the winners. The former just find it too easy to give on the road to success. While the latter make sure they reach their destination.

          I really hope this article has opened your eyes to the root causes of success. And if you need any help keeping going towards your goals, then check out one of my previous articles: The Only Time That Change Doesn’t Make You Better

          Find your interest. Dedicate yourself to it. And discover a life of success that you never thought was possible.

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on July 18, 2019

          How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

          How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

          Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

          However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

          Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

          Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

          There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

          Better Job Offers

          Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

          People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

          Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

          You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

          Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

          A Shot at Entrepreneurship

          Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

          We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

          13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

          1. Update Your Resume

          You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

          Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

          While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

          There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

          2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

          Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

          That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

          To hone this skill:

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          Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

          Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

          This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

          How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

          3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

          Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

          Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

          To hone this skill:

          Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

          4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

          No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

          Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

          To hone this skill:

          Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

          Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

          These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

          The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

          5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

          Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

          How to hone this skill:

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          Practice being resourceful.

          Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

          Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

          No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

          If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

          6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

          6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

          Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

          The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

          Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

          How to hone this skill:

          Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

          Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

          17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

          7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

          Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

          What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

          How to hone this skill:

          Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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          Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

          5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

          8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

          Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

          Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

          How to hone this skill:

          Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

          Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

          What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

          9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

          How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

          Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

          How to hone this skill:

          Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

          Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

          The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

          10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

          Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

          How to hone this skill:

          Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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          Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

          What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

          11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

          Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

          You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

          How to hone this skill:

          All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

          How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

          12. Build Networks and Relationships

          You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

          Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

          How to hone this skill:

          Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

          To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

          How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

          Final Thoughts

          Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

          You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

          Happy career switching!

          More Resources About Career Advancement

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

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