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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

Why Hard Work is Better Than Talent

Why Hard Work is Better Than Talent

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.

          More by this author

          Anna Chui

          Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

          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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          Last Updated on April 19, 2021

          10 Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Confidence

          10 Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Confidence

          Self-confidence can be defined as a belief in one’s abilities and maintaining a sense of competence. On the other hand, low self-confidence can be defined as a lack of faith in one’s abilities and competence.

          Self-confidence can fuel success, while low self-esteem can impede it. To avoid falling into patterns of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, consult the following warning signs.

          1. Checking Your Phone While Alone in Social Situations

          You find yourself unable to sit still during social situations with little or no friends. Instead, you find yourself desperately checking your phone to appear more socially connected.

          Tip: Try exercising an affirmation such as “I am loved.”

          2. Backing Down During a Disagreement to Appease Another Person

          You find yourself backing down in conversation often; you negotiate your views so as to avoid conflict. You would rather avoid experiencing rocky waters than express yourself honestly.

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          Tip: Try an affirmation such as “my opinion matters” or “I live authentically.”

          3. Unable to Leave the House Without Make-Up or Primping

          You gain a false sense of self-esteem from wearing make-up or primping. Instead of feeling self-esteem from within, you feel a need to primp in order to feel good about yourself.

          Tip: Try a daily “I am beautiful” affirmation.

          4. Taking Constructive Criticism Too Personally

          You tear up in the bathroom after a coworker gives you constructive criticism about your job performance; you wind up yelling at friends when they criticize your choice in a date. Instead of taking criticism objectively, you react emotionally.

          Tip: Try counting to 3 before responding to criticism.

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          5. Afraid to Contribute Your Opinion in Conversation

          You find yourself second guessing what you want to say before you say it, instead of diving into conversation without a thought. You may find yourself stuttering and engaging in negative self-talk.

          Tip: Focus on your breath when you begin to second guess yourself to avoid over-thinking.

          6. Being Indecisive in the Midst of Simple Decisions

          You change your mind after coming to a simple decision, such as what activity to do with a friend or what food to eat. Then once you come to another decision, you change your mind over and over.

          Tip: Vocalize the affirmation “I am assertive and in control of my life.”

          7. Cannot Handle Genuine Compliments

          You reflect when someone pays you a genuine compliment, instead of graciously accepting the compliment.

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          Tip: Practice the affirmation “I am worthy of love” or “I have many good qualities.”

          8. Giving up Too Soon

          You give up on your goals and dreams before you have hardly started. You lack confidence in your success, so you give up all together.

          Tip: Practice the affirmation “I am a success seeker, not a failure avoider.”

          9. Comparing Yourself With Others

          You pay extra attention to those you deem more successful than you, and let your own self-worth take a plummet as a result. Instead of focusing on your journey and your journey only, you constantly look at everyone else’s.

          Tip: Declare the affirmation “I am more than enough.”

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          10. Slouching

          You display a low body stance: you do not stand tall, but instead let your body slouch downwards, sending the message that you are not proud of yourself.

          Tip: Take a few minutes each day to focus on your body posture. Take a look at these 10 Graphs That Help You Improve Posture In No Time.

          More Tips to Boost Your Confidence

          Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

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