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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

Why Hard Work is Better Than Talent

Why Hard Work is Better Than Talent
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We live in an achievement-obsessed society that is quick to apply the labels “talented” and “gifted” to everyone who has accomplished anything of note. Successful people are often portrayed as superhuman, born with magical abilities that separate them from the rest of the human race. For instance, award-winning actors are touted as talented, as are people who have succeeded in business. If the person in question is young, they are especially likely to be labeled this way.

The media isn’t interested in hard work, or how much effort so-called gifted and talented people have to put in before they see results. Our society now judges someone on their accomplishments, and assumes that they must have inborn gifts. We don’t stop and appreciate the effort that goes into a bestselling novel, a high-performing company, or a stunning piece of artwork. We tend to just assume that “talent” naturally gives rise to excellent results.

You can see this belief operating across society. For example, operating under the assumption that someone is either born talented or average, companies often use IQ tests to scan their applicant pools for people who supposedly show the most potential to outshine their peers. Businesses are obsessed with spotting and training the “very best.” In many cases, the “very best” is equated to “people who seem to have been born with innate ability.”

The truth about hard work

    Although the media would have you believe otherwise, hard work really does trump talent. When you first meet or hear about a successful person, it’s easy to believe that they must have been born in possession of fabulous gifts. In reality, there are numerous examples of famous people who have relied on hard work.

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    For example, legendary basketball player Michael Jordan was dropped from his high school basketball team, but would go on to become one of the greatest sportspeople of all time. Animation pioneer Walt Disney was told that he had “no original ideas” and “lacked imagination” by the newspaper that fired him, and Oprah Winfrey was once advised that she “wasn’t fit for television.” These stories illustrate that not every successful person finds immediate success and recognition. It’s hard work and perseverance that ultimately pays off.

    The power of labels

    What happens when someone is told that they are talented? Sometimes, they will become complacent and lose the incentive to improve themselves. For example, a kid who is told throughout high school that they are naturally smart might assume that they will breeze through college. They might never bother to develop the skills needed to study hard and learn new material, as they think that they will be able to ace any class. College might come as a real shock to them, and because they have not bothered to learn study skills, they might find themselves struggling to cope.

    Someone who has been explicitly told that they are in no way gifted or talented might become discouraged and stop following their dreams. For example, someone who takes up art classes in their thirties or forties and is told by their teacher that they don’t really have an aptitude for painting might become depressed, especially if they have waited for years to build up the confidence levels required to sign up for the class in the first place. The world could miss out on some wonderful paintings as the result of a single comment from the teacher.

    To call someone “talented” can also be an act of rudeness. It implies that the person did not have to rely on their own hard work to achieve success, which belittles their efforts and shows an ignorance of how personal growth and development really happens behind the scenes. Calling someone talented also lets yourself off the hook and gives you permission to be lazy – after all, if someone else is talented and you are not, why even bother trying to achieve a similar level of success?

    In short, labeling someone “talented” or “gifted” is not a straightforward compliment. The very notion that some people are born innately better than others is not constructive.

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    How to master your unique power

    It’s true that we are all stronger in some areas than others, but hard work is the real secret to success. There are three steps you must follow in order to achieve your full potential.

    First, ask yourself what interests you the most.

      What do you think about most often? What do you care about most? What do you like to do in your spare time? What satisfies you? If you aren’t sure of your tastes and skills, try a few new hobbies or investigate a few new topics.

      Second, work on actively building your strengths in this area.

        For instance, if you have discovered that you love art, choose a medium and find resources that will help you master this specific skill. You could take classes, find a mentor, or track down materials that allow you to teach yourself. Think about the basic skills you need first, and work on acquiring them. Practice is your friend here. The more you do, the better!

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        Third, make sure that you keep getting feedback from a range of sources.

          Let them tell you what is working well, and what needs improvement. Successful people never stop learning, and they appreciate constructive criticism. Take other people’s comments on board, commit yourself to ongoing improvement, and never stop working hard! It doesn’t matter whether other people think you are talented or not. What matters is your personal effort and work.

          Embrace your work and believe in yourself

          When you realize that hard work is what truly matters, you will feel free to pursue your dreams.

          So what if someone tells you that you don’t have any innate ability, or that you don’t show a great deal of potential in any particular domain?

          You now know that if you choose to follow a path that holds interest for you, and are willing to devote yourself to building up a strong set of skills, there is no reason why you can’t be incredibly successful. And if someone ever does label you “talented” or “gifted,” be sure to remind them that it was hard work that made all the difference.

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          Anna Chui

          Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

          The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You The Purpose Of Friendship: The Only 4 Types Of Friends You Need In Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) How to Live Life to the Fullest and Enjoy Each Day 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

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          1 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd 2 Is There a True Measure of Success? How to Define Your Own 3 How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways 4 50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn 5 8 Daily Habits of the Successful People (Which Are Rare)

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          Last Updated on July 21, 2021

          17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

          17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd
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          If you are like most people, you probably have big goals and dreams that you would like to succeed in — you want to be the top in your career, live a healthy lifestyle, or flourish in your relationships.

          Everyone dreams of a positive future, but most people don’t realize the secret to a truly successful life:

          You determine your future in the way you spend your everyday moments. If you want to be a successful person, you must consistently develop good daily habits. As Aristotle pointed out:

          “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

          Building positive daily habits is a huge challenge, but can you imagine the amazing things you could accomplish with just a little commitment and determination?

          Creating lasting, healthy habits is the real key difference between people who are successful in life and those who are unsuccessful.

          You might be wondering which specific habits make the biggest difference. Not to worry, I’ve compiled a comparison list to help you get a jump start on a successful future.

          1. Successful people embrace change. Unsuccessful people fear change.

          Change is a constant for all of humanity, and it is important that you develop a positive relationship with it.

          When unexpected or unwelcome changes arise, ask yourself how you can embrace it instead of running away. A few practical ways to reverse a change-fearing mindset include:

          • Take a moment to recognize and address any fears associated with the upcoming change.
          • Communicate with a person you trust about your negative feelings toward change.
          • Practice positive thinking, which you can read about in the next section.

          2. Successful people exude joy. Unsuccessful people think, say and do negative things.

          A joyful, positive disposition can seem like a distant reality in today’s cynical world, but it may be easier to achieve than you think. All you have to do is notice the good things around you and practice being thankful.

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          Mindfulness and gratitude are not just buzz words – choosing a positive attitude can honestly change your life. Many studies have found that thankfulness leads to greater happiness. Furthermore, research indicates that gratitude may even have a lasting positive impact on the brain and overall mental health.[1]

          3. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful people hold grudges.

          As a human being, you have likely been offended or hurt by others plenty of times. Don’t give in to the temptation to hold a grudge. Let it go.

          Note that forgiving someone does not equate to giving up your boundaries (which are very important) or even admitting that the offending party is right. You should choose to let go for your own peace of mind.

          4. Successful people track progress. Unsuccessful people just criticize.

          Some kinds of criticism, such as constructive criticism, are good for personal and professional development. The kind of criticism I’m talking about is the pessimistic, nagging, unhelpful variety. This is the kind of criticism in play when you are unfairly harsh to yourself or others.

          Toss unfounded criticisms aside and consider tracking your “wins” or your progresses, no matter how small. Take mental notes or keep a progress journal.

          If you have a solid sense of what you have achieved, you will be less tempted to be hard on yourself.

          5. Successful people share information, data and ideas. Unsuccessful people hoard.

          If you have useful information or generate brilliant ideas on the regular, your first instinct may be to keep it all to yourself for personal gain and solo recognition.

          Instead of hoarding bright ideas, share them with your team. Your talents will be on display for the team, and the team will be able to support you and make your ideas a reality.

          6. Successful people are humble. Unsuccessful people talk more than they listen.

          Humility is key. The ability to listen to other people, really listen and understand, is essential to success in both work and relationships — and to listen you have to be humble.

          Everyone has experienced the frustration of being in a one-sided conversation. When someone approaches you with a question or concern, put your own world aside for just a moment and give them the kindness of your full attention.

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          7. Successful people take risks. Unsuccessful people take the easy way out.

          The next time your heart is racing and you want to walk away, consider embracing the risk. You never know what might happen if you take a chance.

          Embracing risks looks like accepting the speaking engagement even though it seems a little scary. Success takes the courageous route, not the easy route.

          8. Successful people learn, improve and read every day. Unsuccessful people stop learning.

          Instead of binge-watching a show tonight, save an hour before bed to read a book and expand your mind.

          Unsuccessful people are afraid to be flexible – they don’t challenge themselves to learn new things. Avoid this pitfall by exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas every day.

          9. Successful people handle problems well. Unsuccessful people act before they think.

          The next time you run into a problem or even an emergency, try to work through your initial panic reaction with a few deep breaths.

          Instead of acting rashly, think through your next actions as quickly but as logically as you can.

          Learning to handle problems thoughtfully is an absolutely essential tool in the successful person’s toolbox (that’s you!).

          10. Successful people accept responsibility for their failures. Unsuccessful people blame others.

          Along with a previous tip about humility, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever learn to do – but also the most rewarding. When you’ve failed, you must fight the urge to pass the blame. Successful people are able to fail honestly and gracefully.

          And, hey, don’t feel bad about failing. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed too many times to count. It’s all a part of the process.

          You can check out this article for more tips on how to fail well:

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          How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

          11. Successful people work with passion and commitment. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.

          A short and sweet lesson for you:

          You should never expect to achieve the things you want without working hard.

          Follow your passion and stay committed to pursuing it. Work hard and stick to your habits every day. You’ll earn your reward.

          12. Successful people spend time with the right people. Unsuccessful people think they already know it all.

          A lot of people miss out on useful relationships and information sharing because they think they can do it all alone.

          Spend time with people who inspire you, spur you to be a better person, and remind you that you can’t go it alone.

          13. Successful people make to-do lists and maintain proper life balance. Unsuccessful people waste their time.

          Ah, time management. Unsuccessful people never master the art of organization and planning.

          Here are a few tips for you when it comes to time management:

          • Make to-do lists. Seriously, this will help you. Make time to do it every morning, evening, or whenever you are able.
          • Keep track of your time. Are you happy with the way you are currently balancing things? What changes can you make?
          • Keep a calendar full of your long-term goals (see next tip).

          14. Successful people write down goals and think long term about their burning desires. Unsuccessful people get distracted every day.

          Why is it so important to keep a long-term goal calendar? Here’s the deal:

          The things you are passionate about today need a backbone.

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          Give your passionate ideas sustainability by writing down goals and staying on task instead of succumbing to distraction.

          15. Successful people compliment others. Unsuccessful people try to bring others down to their level.

          There is no greater confidence than saying “no” to sudden jealous or envious feelings and choosing to sincerely admire someone’s talents instead.

          Unsuccessful people live in a world driven by competition, but successful people know that building people up is far more rewarding than bringing them down.

          16. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope they fail.

          In the same vein as the point above, this tip is all about good intentions.

          Care for the people around you. Encourage them toward their successes. Hoping that others fail will not help you at all.

          17. Successful people know their purpose and mission. Unsuccessful people don’t know what they want to be.

          The last thing that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is one of the most important:

          Keep your mission in mind.

          Don’t be swayed to and fro by passing emotions and events. Know who you are and pursue your dreams wholeheartedly.

          Final thoughts

          Above all, stay confident. Truly believe that you can be and are successful. Strive to prove it in your day-to-day habits and activities!

          What are you waiting for? Choose one of the habits above and get started today.

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          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Berkeley University of California: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

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