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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

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    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.

    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.

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    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.

    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.

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      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!

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

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

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          Last Updated on August 12, 2019

          13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

          13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

          Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life.

          Take a look at these 13 things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become mentally stronger.

          1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves

          Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

          2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power

          They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.

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          3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change

          Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

          4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control

          You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

          5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

          Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.

          6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks

          They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.

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          7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past

          Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it.

          However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.

          8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over

          Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.

          9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success

          Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.

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          10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure

          Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.

          11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time

          Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive.

          They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.

          12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything

          Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.

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          13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

          Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.

          More About Mental Strength

          Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

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