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Turning Talent Into Greatness

Employers Professional & Managerial

It’s hard to describe but you definitely know it when you see it; “a God given talent”. But is having that potential enough to succeed?

I don’t think it is. It is only a step in the right direction towards success in your chosen discipline. While pulling my thoughts together on this subject, I watched a piece Breakfast did on past NZ Olympians. 12 out of the 14 gold medal winning athletes who were surveyed thought that they had less “talent” than their competitors, and that it came down to their persistence and determination in their quest for sporting greatness. It took Sarah Ulmer nine years to capture an Olympic gold.  So it got me thinking. What does it take, in the simplest terms, to take talent and turn it into something special? I have boiled it down to some key elements. And yes, I gave a sporting example above, but I believe this applies across the board whether it be business, the arts, or within the sporting arena.

In my view, perseverance and determination are of the utmost importance – the ability to endure a process until one has reached a desired goal. Have you ever noticed people who are more successful than those who are more gifted or “intelligent”? It’s their determination and perseverance to reach set goals that makes the difference. Within the business environment, we often hear people say “he/she’s got beginners luck”, or “that guy is so lucky”. They appear to get results without doing much hard graft; the salesperson who consistently makes targets and has fantastic relationships without seeming to do any sales calls; the account manager who sees his key client in the street the day before a tender is due, gaining last minute information and a competitive advantage. In my mind, these people make their own luck. They manage their time well, do the grunt work out of hours and are therefore flexible and available to make the most of opportunities when they arise.

We’ve all heard and probably spoken the words “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Your circle of influence and networks can help you. They can springboard you to the next stage in your journey. Whether you have mentors at work or on the sports field, they can often open up opportunities that would usually not be available. They are important for what some call the airy fairy stuff; inspiration and positivity. Associate with positive people. It’s really common sense – happy people accomplish more, inspire more, and gain more. And finally, “what fuel is to the car is what inspiration is to the mind”; dreams coupled with hard work can produce greatness.

The divide between talent and skill is immense. You have to turn your potential into something productive. The person who wins is not the one with the most talent. It’s the one who works the hardest, does the most preparation, and keeps at it when others give up. There are many famous examples of this – Winston Churchill, JK Rowling, and Murray Halberg. Everyone encounters setbacks and failures, but how you respond to them makes all the difference in pursuit of your goals.