Very few people are born as child prodigies or with such exceptional talent that everything comes easily to them.
From time to time, we hear of some pianist or gymnast or mathematician who completely stands out from everyone else.
But the large majority of people don’t land on the planet with extraordinary talent. In fact, some of us may have pretty slim pickings when it comes to natural skill.
And yet, when we combine determination to do something with a lot of hard work and passion, along with a great deal of time, we can usually begin to see a degree of growth.
For example, this past semester my daughter who has dyslexia signed up for college Chemistry. At the beginning of the term, I have to admit, I was apprehensive about the class. This is my daughter who struggled with high school Chemistry so much that at one point I was crying right along with her.
Thankfully at our low point with high school Chemistry, God provided a tutor—a gentleman in our community who is a chemist for Dow Chemical Company. Not only did he enjoy tutoring, but he also had daughter who had struggled with dyslexia and so was very sensitive to my daughter’s needs and feelings.
Even so, the high school Chemistry experience was Very. Very. Hard.
Thus we went into college Chemistry with great fear and trembling, knowing the challenge that lay ahead. But my daughter also knew that if she wanted to pursue a nursing degree, she would have to pass college Chemistry.
Her semester of college Chemistry just ended. I’m very happy to report that she passed the class. Not only did she pass, but she succeeded in getting an A- (I’m tearing up as I write this!).
How did she get an A you may be asking? Was the class easy? Did she have a lenient professor? Did she get tutoring again?
No. No. And no. The class was five credits and included a lab. She had to memorize a ton of stuff (like polyatomic ion formulas!). The professor was tough. And there were other students who ended up failing.
So how did my daughter get an A?
She worked INCREDIBLY hard every single day of the semester. When she didn’t understand the concepts taught in class, she’d come home and watch videos online to try to figure things out. She turned in all her homework and redid the assignments until she got the problems correct. She went to almost every single study group the teacher provided. And she stayed up late into the nights studying for tests and quizzes.
So what’s my point?
Talent is over-rated. Sure it may help to have a little bit of inborn gifting to help you get going on something. Talent may help you progress a little faster and easier.
But . . . talent isn’t necessary to succeed.
In fact, very little talent is required. Just look at my daughter and what she accomplished in her Chemistry class. (And likewise, look at people you know who have exceptional talent but never make anything of themselves.)
There are traits that will get us further than talent. Whether in Chemistry or writing or anything, here are ten qualities that can help us all:
1. Stay determined. Decide you want to do it. Then make up your mind to stay the course.
2. Don’t get discouraged (at least not for long). Don’t listen to the naysayers who don’t think you have what it takes (especially if that naysayer is yourself!). And if you are discouraged, let it push you to try all the harder.
3. Don’t give up too soon. Stick with it even when you know you’re not all that good yet. Remember that most don’t start out as superstars, that they have to work hard for years before honing their skills.
4. Surround yourself with friends who share and understand the passion. They enrich the experience.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others. Know that you are unique and will accomplish things in your own pace and in your own way.
6. Work your tail off. Go at it until you sweat and feel pain.
7. Practice daily (or at least regularly). Come up with a routine. Have a checklist.
8. Continually push yourself to improve. Once you’ve mastered something, then learn something new.
9. Keep the vision of what you can become. Always see the product of what you will accomplish if you work hard enough.
10. Most of all enjoy it. Find pleasure in the process itself, even when it’s hard.
How about you? Have you put too much stock in talent? Which of the above 10 traits do you need to work on the most?
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