Talent + Determination = Results
Have you ever wondered whether you’re talented?
You are. I promise.
The process and the results may not always help you believe it, but you are so uniquely and incredibly talented. Improving upon your talents and trying new things means the first attempts won’t always be pretty, but you’re still talented. One of your talents is in going beyond what you know and are skilled at in order to grow as a human. And it will serve you well in your future.
Choosing the Difficult Path
You didn’t choose the easy way, and you aren’t about to start. You chose the way that will set your soul ablaze and gives you the sense of fulfillment that only comes from serving others with your passion and talent.
As writer Malorie Blackburn describes, “You can have all the talent in the world, but without determination, you won't get very far.” The determination to succeed is the missing piece of the talent and result formula. Talent and determination by themselves won’t give you what you crave. Instead, it’s the magic-forming combination of the two that will help you reach the goals that may seem unreachable at first.
“You can have all the talent in the world, but without determination, you won't get very far.” - Malorie Blackburn
The Correlation Between Work and Talent
To truly become talented at a task, you need to work at it. Even those with seemingly unprecedented talent and success had a starting point, and they have undoubtedly worked hard to get to that point. When we ignore the cost that developing talent requires, we weaken the significance of the work needed to achieve it.
One of my favorite quotes on talent comes from The Artisan Soul. (Obviously.) It reads, “We hope that discovering our talents, and even our calling or purpose, will lead us to effortless success… the exact opposite is true: if God created us to be successful at something, then he has called us to work hard at it.”
Continuing on a bit, “A spiritual gift and hard work were never intended to be mutually exclusive. Potential is talent that has not been harnessed; it is what talent looks like when it is undisciplined. Potential is how we describe your extraordinary nature before you have gained mastery over that potential.”
To gain that mastery, we need to practice creating then refining our work. Much like sanding wood down to a smooth finish, we need to refine our work so that the pieces fit together and it conveys the message we want to share.
First drafts are rarely good. They’re not supposed to be. Moving from first draft to second and on gives us the opportunity to get our thoughts out then refine into a piece that answers a question, solves a problem, or otherwise serves the intended audience.
Refining your talent doesn’t happen quickly. Much like athletes training their entire lives for just one try on the Olympic stage, creatives need to be dedicated to improving upon their talents so they can better serve others in the future. You won’t get to where you want to go without putting in the time.
“A spiritual gift and hard work were never intended to be mutually exclusive. Potential is talent that has not been harnessed; it is what talent looks like when it is undisciplined. Potential is how we describe your extraordinary nature before you have gained mastery over that potential.” - Erwin Raphael McManus
Adding Determination to the Equation
Determination is the other essential piece you need in order to see results. Webster’s Dictionary defines determination as, “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.” It’s the willpower needed to get from first draft to final product. When we’re determined to succeed, we’ll do just about whatever it takes to make it happen.
Determination is sitting in the awkward stages of a new idea, trying to flesh it out. It’s typing out a paragraph four times in order to find just the right way to share your idea.
Olympian Gail Devers, a track and field athlete and only the second woman to successfully defend an Olympic 100m title, has said, “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”
Anything worthwhile is worth working hard for. We need to keep the vision alive of what we want our future to be in order to stay focused. Success is the culmination of tiny victories over procrastination, fear, and imposter syndrome.
It’s not always the sexy startup office filled with hip millennials or big parties filled with thought leaders. It’s tiny offices, late nights putting your thoughts to paper, and making it work with the resources you have now so that you can build a better future later.
Cultivating Talent and Determination
Cultivating talent and determination doesn’t just mean working hard. It means finding the areas we need to improve upon, working to refine our process and gifts, then pushing through the middle where it gets murky in order to come out on the other side with a beautiful finished product.
Define Your Version of Success
In order to know where you want to go, you need to define your version of success. And before we go any further, we need to cover some groundwork: success looks different to each person, so you do you. When I was in the early stages of starting my old company, a friend who had been through the process a few times shared a very important piece of advice: figure out if you want to build a lifestyle company or a startup.
There’s nothing wrong with a lifestyle company, and for many that’s the ideal choice. They can support their families, go on vacations, and help make the world a better place. For others, they want the startup route: fix a problem, scale quickly, get acquired, then do it all again.
The moral of this story is to focus on your own goals, not another’s. We all have such unique directions and it’s a beautiful thing to watch your community go out and reach their goals and support each other even if each goal looks drastically different.
Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices
Sure, it’s easier to binge your new favorite show on Netflix or go out with friends most nights, but that won’t help you reach your goals. It’s always important to rest from work in order to recharge, but if we want to achieve something great, it’s going to require sacrifice.
It may mean going to bed late and waking up early. It may mean making financial sacrifices or moving away from the familiar to take a career-enhancing position.
I’m not saying these things lightly, either. I’m encouraging these big life steps because I’ve been in these situations and I’ve made the hard decisions required in order to grow and fulfill some big dreams. And I’m still making them.
I firmly believe that one of theme best ways to learn about yourself and to grow exponentially as a person is to move to a brand new area. Moving away from every sense of security in order to get you closer to reaching your goal is an incredible way to grow.
There’s a caveat, though. This may not be right for you at this point in your life. The moral of this story is to never avoid an opportunity because of the challenge. The challenge is the best part. It’s not glamorous. Instead, it’s choosing the path that may not result in immediate results the world describes as success. It’s going far beyond your comfort zone to reach what you define as success.
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
I know, I know, I’m talking about comfort zones again. Hear me out, though. Nothing great happens without trying something new. Even if your goal comes from previously developed talent, you will still need to get out of your comfort zone. If it doesn’t, you may need to reevaluate.
How will we develop as a well-rounded human if we don’t try new things? It doesn’t need to begin big, either. It can be something as small as trying a new sport on the weekend or talking to new people in the office. Once you begin to see that, regardless of the outcome, the world didn’t end, you’ll have built the confidence to go bigger.
The thing about leaving comfort zones is that an idea will begin to creep into your brain: am I talented? It’s easy to think you aren’t when you’re continually pushing yourself, and that’s okay. But only if you constantly remind yourself that the cost of trying new things is feeling lost at times and that you really are talented.
Gather a Committed Team
While success, regardless of how you define it, is never guaranteed, there are ways to make it more likely. And gathering a tight knit group of people committed to leaving their comfort zones is one of them. Because the path you’ve chosen is filled with pivots, whether expected or not, you need people to keep you going.
Your team should be filled with people who challenge and support you, and who are familiar with the craziness of trying new things and going beyond the norm. Meet with them regularly, know their love languages, and serve them during both the good and bad weeks. When you build a community dedicated to building each other up, you’ll be unstoppable. Skills are important, but a committed team is essential.
Molding your future with talent and determination will prepare you for the results you crave. It could be sharing your story so you can help others in similar circumstances, financial success to pay off student loans and help family, or any other number of goals. The results also may look nothing like what you expect, and that’s the beauty of persistence and our unique life stories. The winding path we all take leads us to something far greater than what we initially wanted.
You weren’t built for easy. And that’s a good thing. Begin blending your talent with a sense of determination, and you’ll be prepared for whatever life brings. It’s not the easy path, but it’s a fulfilling one.