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Overcoming Your Talent
It can be harder than overcoming your weaknesses.
Beware your talent. It will help take you up the mountain, but when you reach a sheer cliff you cannot climb, you might be unprepared to keep scaling. Natural talent makes it easy to improve…until a certain point.
Suddenly, things get hard, and you haven’t developed the habits of discipline, patience, and hard work to progress. To make it this far, you didn’t need them. Within your natural talent is buried the seed of its own atrophy. You can reach “above average” without much effort, but you quit when things get hard.
Beware your talent.
Let’s compare two teenagers. One is naturally gifted at basketball and the other seems to trip over his own two feet. They both love the game.
The talented one can hit 70% of his jump shots and with just a little effort, becomes a good ball handler. He is always one of the first picked when choosing teams. The other is always picked last, but is a good team player and knows how to pass the ball.
The talented one almost never practices. He improves a little.
The untalented one practices every day, rain or shine. He practices fundamentals like basic dribbling and layups. He practices free-throws. He jumps rope to improve his fitness and basic hand-eye coordination. In three years, he is almost as good as the talented player. He can shoot 60% and is never picked last anymore, because everyone knows they can count on him to run hard and make the easy layups.
Fast forward another two years. Which person will be the better basketball player? It’s hard to say for sure, but I would bet money on the untalented kid. He has built the habits necessary to carry him over every obstacle. He will also appreciate his accomplishments more.
Success is often wasted on the talented because it came too easy.
The talented can forge great habits and discipline as well, but they have less incentive to do so early on, so many never do. How do you avoid this trap yourself? How do you help your kids avoid the trap?
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might. If this is carved on your heart, then coasting by on talent will never be enough. You will want to excel and be more likely to build the habits that will help you excel. Do not settle.
Love the journey more than the destination. If you really love something, you will love every part of it, including the difficult parts. If you are disciplined, then every setback is really just another step in the journey. You are still making progress.
Reward effort, not success. Especially important for your kids, but you should also do this for yourself. If only success is rewarded, you will find yourself tending toward things you are naturally talented at so you don’t fail. Always remember that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
Get good at something you have no natural aptitude for. For the most part, it’s okay to stick with your natural proclivities, but doing training in something far beyond your own experience will force you to study and practice the basics. You will fail over and over and be forced to get up over and over. This discipline can rub off on the stuff you are talented at. For me, that would be something like singing.
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