Archive for the ‘Hard Work’ Category

Talent v Hardwork

January 12, 2009

This is a guest post from my 16-year-old son.  Enjoy!

We hear people say things like “Oh he’s just so talented” or “It just comes naturally” all the time, but throughout my life, despite how short it has been, I have found it very difficult to discover my talent; that one thing that I am truly gifted in; something that just comes naturally. I have tried, and still do try a wide range of things, everything from martial arts, to music, debate, and even work with the local rescue squad, but none have just come naturally to me. Sure I am good at the things that I do, but I am only good because of the hard work, time, and dedication I have put into it.

This is why I believe that talent is just a reflection of how hard you are willing to work at something to achieve the results that you want.

My band director has always said that “practice makes perfect”, my martial arts instructor tells me that “in order to do something right when you need it, you must practice it thousands of times so that it becomes just a memory.” This is what I mean by “how hard you are willing to work.” There are people out there who can just pick up an instrument and play it, or look at a prompt and write an essay without thinking twice. Those are gifts, and it is amazing what people can do with them, but talent takes dedication, and a willingness to get your hands dirty working to improve.

I am not gifted in music, but I really enjoy playing it. In order to keep up and carry my load in the band, I have to work very hard. During the summer, while preparing for marching band, I will often sit down with my percussion instruments for hours a day learning my pieces before band camp. I know that I am not the best, and I know that there is always someone who can do it better, but that does not matter to me. In the end, the satisfaction of knowing that I was able to achieve something so great is all that matters. In the end, I know that what I was able to do wasn’t just because I could do it, but because I was willing to put the time and effort into my work to make it the best it could be, and this I believe is talent.


Necessity is the Mother of Invention

August 6, 2008

Here’s a great example of the difference between average and great.  Most of us have great ideas and I bet lots of people even had this idea.  The difference is that this guy made the effort to take his idea to reality.

And what an idea!!


July 29, 2008

Another of the things that distinguish the mediocre from the high achiever is consistency.  High achievers consistently perform well and perform well consistently.  They frequently reach their goals with positive results and they are regularly pursuing goals that are important to them.

The average person has a long list of projects or goals that they haven’t completed, met or attempted.

It’s been a dream of mine for most of my life to be a writer; not necessarily as a profession but as an accomplishment.  I’ve read a lot about being a writer, I’ve talked to writers, and I’ve read a ton of different kinds of writing.  The main lesson that high achieving writers have for people like me: writers write.

Preparation is important, but it doesn’t make a writer.  Learning the skills of the trade are important but they don’t make a writer.  Knowing the market is important but that doesn’t make a writer.  Writing does.  Nothing else.

So, why haven’t I written?  The short answer is because I didn’t want to enough.  It is hard work to learn to do something new, and if there isn’t any outside motivation prodding me forward I never made it a priority.  I’ll never be a writer unless I consistently risk the fear, the sweat and possible failure that comes with a blank page.

That’s one example.  For the average person there can be many others, usually begun with the words, “I always wanted to…”:

What is it for you?  Lose weight?  Learn to play a musical instrument?  Learn a language?  Start a business?  Acheive a high job performance rating?  Make money?

There may be lots of circumstances keeping you from your dreams.  High achievers find ways to overcome circumstances.  Average people don’t.  One fundamental reason I haven’t met my goals is because I haven’t wanted to bad enough.  That’s a circumstance I can overcome.

I started a blog as a first step.  What is your first step going to be?

Passion v Success

July 16, 2008

Two thoughts that I heard others express have been rolling around in my head and heart over the last couple of days.  The first was something I heard Adam Carolla say.  He was talking about The Two Coreys, a reality show about a couple of child stars from the 80’s who are struggling to recapture the work they had when they were young, sometimes turning to drugs to overcome the despair of lost opportunities.

I’ll try to express Carolla’s thoughts as best as I can remember.  The appearance of the clips he played was that the drugs had ended the careers of one or both of these men and that if they could get off drugs they’d have a shot at returning to their earlier success.  Carolla didn’t think that was it.  He talked about the often expressed view of former child stars that they have been type cast based on past performances.  He didn’t think that was it.  Instead, it was a lack of talent that kept them from succeeding.

A child star often wins “the cosmic lottery” and is the right person for the time and place of their success.  But when that time and place is over it’s up to them whether they can maintain it.  Carolla talked about Johnny Depp and George Clooney, both successes early in life but neither stuck in a typecast because they both had great talent.

And, if you have great talent the other key is hard work.  He pointed to Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel who both created something that was uniquely theirs and worked really hard to get it.

But, if you don’t have great talent and you don’t work really hard at it, you may have one time success but it isn’t going to last and you shouldn’t expect it to.

My thought was what about the average guy who doesn’t win the cosmic lottery?  Does that mean he’ll never have success?  Does everyone have great talent at something?

The other comment that I heard was from Erwin MacManus at Mosaic.  He was doing a Q & A with people at the gathering as part of a series on wisdom.  One young lady asked about finding your passion, living a fully engaged life and success.  She asked, “What if you’re working really hard, for years, at what you love but things never go the way you thought they would?  Do you just keep going?”

Erwin explored the difference between passion and an end result we want.  He gave the example of a world class violinist.  Someone may have a passion to be a world class violinist but hates to practice.  They’re never going to reach their goal.  “The way you know you’re living out the right passion is that you love the discipline that brings greatness.  If you don’t love the discipline that brings greatness in that field you are pursuing the wrong passion.”

“What if you love the discipline?” the girl asked.

“If you love the discipline then even if you don’t get the ultimate end you will not have wasted your life because you will have fulfilled your passions.”

And I think that’s the answer for the average guy.  If you are an average guy who has a passion for acting then you will find opportunities to act whether or not you achieve fame, fortune or recognition.  Carolla is right.  It is talent and hard work that bring success (in a place where there is real opportunity anyway).  But MacManus is also right.  If you define success as external, the end dream, then it may be unrealistic and pursuit will bring despair.  But, if success to you means the act of pursuing your dream then trying is succeeding even if you are only average.