Talent is as cheap as tissue paper. Here’s why.
Within the muddy tombs of history lie the bones of very many super-talented people who never achieved anything significant. Those who stand tall on the altars of history are those who were not exactly the most talented of their time, but were hungry enough to actively turn their potential into talent; their talent into skill; their skill into mastery; and their mastery into a legacy.
Talent is a double-edged sword. It can either serve as a springboard or as a setback; it all depends on who wields it. In the hands of a laggard, talent becomes latent. It sits idle in the dungeons of his soul with both hands held firmly to the floor by the heavy chains of laziness and indiscipline. Latent talent is the #1 cause of unfulfilled potential — just like having the tools to build a multi-acre mansion, but ending up building nothing more than a sand castle.
On the other hand, the man who becomes aware of his talent and begins to think he has it all gets consumed by it. Such a man never discovers the genius within because he has been seduced by his ego to believe that just being talented is good enough. But talent alone never leads to success.
It takes grit for a man to succeed at his craft. GRIT = TALENT + HUNGER
Grit is mostly used as a synonym for ‘perseverance’, but I see it as the the ability of a talented person who is hungry enough for an expected outcome to commit single-mindedly to that cause and see to its materialisation. One can persevere at something without necessarily being talented at it which usually leads to frustration or, worst case scenario, an existential crisis.
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” ― Eric Thomas
In the hands of a hungry man, talent gets lit on fire by purpose and becomes a springboard to success. Such a man is hungry; hungry for mastery; hungry for enlightenment; hungry for money; hungry for power. This hunger becomes a kind of obsession. It is the kind that gets you to spring out of bed in the morning to work towards its fruition, and causes you to go to bed at night with it as your last thought just before you drift off into dreamland.
A hungry man always succeeds before a man who is only just talented. While the talented man rests on his laurels, the hungry man is putting in twice the effort to surpass him. While the talented man goes to bed at night to get his 8-hour sleep, the hungry man sleeps late and wakes up early to develop his craft to attain the success he aspires to. While the talented man is going about proving himself, the hungry man is focusing on improving. We tend to call this ambition, but it isn’t.
Ambition is what we see manifest in the physical world, but hunger is a lot more deep-rooted. Hunger is what drives ambition. When you then fuse this hunger with talent, the resulting potpourri almost always becomes the elixir of guaranteed success. Latent talent then becomes active talent.
“Talent gets crushed to powder under the forces of purpose and hunger, but crystallises into a precious ornament when put through the furnace of discipline and passion.”
I realised this when I decided to commit myself to mastery in writing about five months ago. I had the latent talent, but I didn’t have a clear purpose, and was still struggling with disciplining myself to be consistent with my writing in terms of quality and quantity. If I didn’t fix that, I was going to become one of the very many writers who remain amateurs for most of their lives. What could be a greater tragedy?
Anybody can be talented, but not everybody can be successful. For latent talent to become active, we need to:
- Find a purpose for our talent. What does success mean to YOU? Why do you want to be successful? How does unleashing your intrinsic potential (talent) contribute to your attaining of success?
- Become hungry. Never stop improving. Never settle. Always want more. You’ve got to want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, as cliché as that may sound.
- Discipline ourselves to develop our talents. Nobody ever achieves anything great without self-regulation. Along our path to mastery/success, there will be distractions. Discipline would be the fire that burns those distractions and crystallises our talents.
- Become passionate about it. Not in the romanticised meaning of the word, but in its literal meaning. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines passion as a “…desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” Keyword is devotion. Commit to it!
These are the steps I am taking to convert my latent talent into an active, hungry, purpose-driven one. Want to join me on this journey? Welcome aboard!