Effortless Talent and Why People Succeed | The BridgeMaker

Effortless Talent and Why People Succeed

By on Jun 04, 2014

why people succeed

Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character. – John Wooden

Remember the kid in school who did everything at the last minute but still excelled? The one who only half-studied, winged it and triumphed?

Seeing a person effortlessly (even begrudgingly) perform at a high level can be frustrating. It’s like watching someone solve the meaning of life on a chalkboard while rolling their eyes.

Fast forward to your professional life. Colleagues show flashes of brilliance in an off-the-cuff way that sparks the inner dialogue, “Can I keep up? How could I possibly compete?”

Part of us might feel threatened by these nonchalant displays. I’ve found myself looking on with a hypnotic admiration as if watching a savant accomplish the impossible.

The truth is: no matter how many Rubik’s Cubes we toil over, Sudoku grids we pencil-in or Ted Talks we absorb like a sponge, some of us will always be more gifted than others. That’s reality, and it’s out of our control. But what can we control? How do we harness what we have?

Although no one can choose their gifts, we can all choose how we shape ourselves.

A career philosophy, I’ve found, is no small thing. Why do we get out of bed in the morning? What on Earth do we stand for?

In my experiences from desk job to executive, it’s clear that some people just don’t know. They aimlessly stumble through life like a zombie in the post-apocalypse: grasping for whatever moves.

While a destination should always be on the horizon, knowing what it takes to get there is as vital as the air we breathe. Therein lies the “shaping” of ourselves and the journeys we are willing to take on a daily basis to go somewhere.

I’ve met plenty of brilliant people in my professional life. Genius – personified. They, however, weren’t the ones who consistently became successful. Actually, many of them seemed to believe that being talented was enough; that somehow everything would click because they were skilled and capable.

Turns out, they were wrong.

People who truly excelled were persistent. They out-worked and out-hustled the smartest folks in the room because they didn’t rest on their talents, never took the lazy route and came into work every day with a palpable thirst for achievement.

Living by small victories from offhand talent cannot compare to the tenacity of someone who has chosen to shape themselves with dedication and grit. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that committing to persistence in work and life is a commitment to ourselves and infinitely more valuable than natural ability.

Plutarch, the Greek historian, said “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

This is our story to write, and a good story takes some effort.

Scott Fleming is the President and COO of Protect America, Inc., a national home security provider. Fleming’s focus is digital and structural strategy while integrating business and the interconnected lifestyle of the future. His philosophy stems from years served in executive roles within the telecommunications industry and beyond.

  • The great people of this world persist like Hell Scott! Great post!

  • I enjoyed this post very much. I have never been a whiz kid. I have always been a slow starter. I’ve learned it wasn’t because of laziness, it is just it takes my brain some time to digest, absorb and assimilate new information.

    I learned to respect that I am a strong finisher. Once I begin, I am consistent and I never give up. For example, I just published my first book. It was a twenty year endeavor. Everyone I knew who was writing a book when I started twenty years ago, finished their books, published them and have moved on to other endeavors.

    Although I have succeeded in many endeavors, I never completed my book. Nevertheless, I continued, it was in my heart and soul. Although sometimes I felt discouraged, I continued and did not give up. I have just published my first two books and I have completed two more books that will be published next year.

    While I don’t want to suggest that projects take twenty years, I like your encouragement to remain consistent and never give up. I admit my book is an extreme example of never giving up. Thanks again for a great post!

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