Thursday, January 12, 2017

Accept Your Talent

Saw a very fast runner recently state something akin to "I have worked very hard. I was not blessed with talent or good genes." Who the runner was is not important. I have seen this same statement time and time again by very talented runners (and other athletes) over the years. Steve Prefontaine famously said "Hell, there are a dozen other guys on the team with more talent in their little finger than I've got."  

Steve Prefontaine.  The guy with one of the highest recorded Vo2 maxes in history.

Look, I get why they say it. (In fact, I go into this in some detail in my book 138, 336 Feet to Pure Bliss.) Mainly, they don't want to let predetermined DNA say they don't work hard. To a great extent, they are correct. You can have all the talent in the world but if you never utilize it, it is useless. As such, they want nothing taken away from how hard they work.  And if you are at the top level of your sport, or game, or business, you got there because you worked hard. Why? Because all the other people at the top are talented, too. To differentiate yourself, you must give something else. You rose through the ranks, even quite possibly doing so with not a great deal of effort, because you were genetically superior to many of your foes. There isn't a single thing wrong with that. But then when things get tougher, it is those with a better work ethic who rise to the top.

When I speak about Ignoring The Impossible, one of my prime topics, I go against the grain of many who like to try to motivate and inspire. I tell you that you can NOT do everything you put your mind to. There are just some things you will never achieve. I know this go against wonderful memes about those who work hardest are the winners. And taken the wrong way some may use it as an excuse to never try at all.  If they can't do it because their genes forbid it, then why even attempt? Because you never know what you can do unless you try. Then try again. And keep trying. I failed miserably in my first marathon. I then went and made a career based on what I achieved in the running world.

It is completely illogical to not accept that some people are better at some things simply because they are. That is exactly how the world works. To deny you had some help from the DNA fairy (or God, or whatever you want to believe) is the epitome of arrogance. It is also a slight to those who do not achieve greatness. "Well, maybe you need to work harder." It is what is so wrong about the ridiculousness of The Secret, that self-help book from a decade ago. If things go right, it is because you worked hard or thought the right way.  If they don't, it is because you need to work harder or put it out into the universe in a different way. 


Sometimes you just aren't going to be able to dunk a basketball. So, learn how to shoot better.  If you can't shoot better, play another sport. Being bad at something is not a problem. Pretending that everyone can be good at something is the problem.

So, simply accept it.  Yes, you rise early in the morning. Sure, you have four kids or came from the ghetto. Absolutely, your drive and determination are to be envied. But when the cards were dealt, you got a nice hand to start.  

But it is how you play it that matters most.

No comments: