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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.

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          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on January 13, 2020

          7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

          7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power

          Throughout the ages, there have been many beliefs in various tricks to boosting brain power, yet when held up to scientific scrutiny, most of these beliefs don’t add up.

          When I was a child, for example, my mother told me if I ate fish it would make me more intelligent. Of course, there’s no scientific proof this is true.

          Today, there is a myriad of games you can download to your phone that claims to improve your brain’s cognitive skills. While we are still waiting for a conclusive scientific verdict on these, recent studies by neuroscientists at Western University in Ontario[1] and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia appear to contradict these claims.[2]

          So, how can we really boost our brain power? Well, it turns out there are a number of simple things you can do that will improve the function of your brain. Here are seven to get you started.

          1. Do Your Most Difficult Tasks in the Morning

          Our brains work at their best when they are fresh and energized after a good night’s sleep.

          If you have a task to do that requires a lot of thought and focus, the best time to do that task would be first thing in the morning when your brain is at its freshest.

          This is one of the reasons why checking email first thing the morning is not a good idea. You are wasting your brain’s best hours on a simple task that can be done when your brain is not at its freshest

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          Throughout the day, you will find the amount of time you can focus for will fall. Your decision-making abilities will also begin to weaken as the day progresses. This is called “decision fatigue” and that means the decisions you make later in the day will not be as good as the decisions you make earlier in the day.

          It’s far better to do your most difficult, creative tasks early taking advantage of your brain’s higher energy levels.

          Try to avoid meetings first thing in the morning and schedule work that needs higher creative energy and concentration.

          2. Get Enough Breaks

          Our brains are not very good at maintaining concentration and focus for much more than an hour. Once you go beyond a certain amount of time, doing focused work, you will find yourself making more and more mistakes. This is a sign your brain is tired and needs a break.

          Taking the right kind of break is important. Switching from working on a complex spreadsheet to checking your social media feeds is not going to give your brain the right kind of break. Instead, get up from your desk and head outside. If that is not possible, go to the nearest window and look outside.

          Your brain needs a break from the screen, not just the spreadsheet, so leave your phone behind so you are not tempted to look at it and just savour the view.

          3. Read Books, not Social Media Feeds

          There are no shortcuts to improved knowledge and you are certainly not going to improve your general knowledge about anything useful by reading social media feeds. Instead, make reading books a regular habit.

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          When you read good quality books, you increase your ability to use the knowledge you learn to solve problems as your brain will apply the knowledge you learned to existing situations.

          Learn about economic theory, history and psychology. All these topics have real practical applications for us all today.

          4. Exercise Regularly

          Humans did not evolve to be stationary animals. You need to move.

          Had our ancestors spent their days sat around, they would not have survived very long. To survive and find food, our ancestors had to keep moving. Our brains have evolved to function at their best when we are exercised.

          In his book, Brain Rules, Prof.John Medina explains when we exercise, we increase the amount of oxygen in our brains and this helps to sharpen our brain’s functions.

          In studies, when a previously sedentary group of people began a light exercise programme, their cognitive skills improve as well as reaction times and quantitive skills.

          This is why you are more likely to find the solution to a problem when you are walking somewhere or exercising rather than when you are sat at a desk in front of a screen.

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          5. Get Enough of the Right Food

          You probably have experienced the afternoon slump at some point in your life. This is when you feel tired and fatigued in the mid-afternoon. This is a result of the carbohydrates you ate at lunchtime, stimulating your body to produce insulin which then causes a drop in your blood sugar levels.

          When you go into an afternoon slump, concentrating for long periods become almost impossible and you just want to curl up and go to sleep.

          To prevent the afternoon slump, try to eat a protein-rich lunch such as a tuna or chicken salad without pasta, rice or bread. Keep some healthy snacks such as mixed nuts and dried bananas around your workspace and when you feel a little peckish, eat a few of these.

          Not only will you avoid the afternoon slump, but you will also improve your overall general health and feel a lot more energetic.

          6. Drink Enough Water

          Your brain is made up of about 70% water, so without enough water, your brain will not function at its best.

          When you are not drinking enough water, you will find your ability to concentrate, make decisions and stay alert will reduce. You will feel sleepy and lack energy. Your brain functions at its best when it is properly hydrated.

          The solution is to keep a large bottle of water at your work station and sip regularly from it throughout the day. This will increase the number of trips you need to make to the bathroom which is a good thing. It will keep you moving and taking regular breaks from your screen.

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          7. Don’t Deprive Yourself of Sleep

          You probably don’t need a long scientific study to convince you that if you are not getting enough sleep, you are not going to function at your best.

          You just need to go a couple of days without getting enough sleep and you feel your abilities reduce. Your decision-making skills become erratic, your energy levels drop and your ability to stay focused on your work diminishes.

          If you want to improve your brain’s ability to function, then start with getting enough sleep. The number of hours you need will depend on your own circadian rhythms, so find what works best for you.

          Six to eight hours is usually enough for most people so make sure you are hitting that number of hours per night as a minimum.

          The Bottom Line

          Improving our brain power is not difficult. All we need to do is develop a few simple habits such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and eating the right foods.

          These seven tips will go a long way to helping you to become more alert, able to focus longer and make decisions. All simple common sense tricks anyone can use.

          More to Boost Your Brain Power

          Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

          Reference

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