What do Elvis Presley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, and Fred Astaire all have in common? They are all performers who were told at one time or another that they had no talent. Elvis was told that he “was never going to make it as a singer.” Arnold was informed that “going from bodybuilding to acting was a pipe dream.” Brad Pitt, after auditioning for a part was asked, “Have you ever thought about acting classes?” And, Fred Astaire, a Hollywood legend, was rated at his first screen test as, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little.”
Looking back, it’s easy to see that all these famous people had talent. But what if they had believed what they had been told? What if Elvis had given up on his singing career? What if Fred Astaire had given up and gone back to his hometown in Omaha, Nebraska?
Sometimes we might be tempted to believe that because someone has a natural gift or ability, they are instantly whisked off to stardom. When all it really means is that they have the basic ingredients necessary to perform a skill. How many talented individuals have you known that haven’t put their skills and talents to work for them?
Why hard work beats talent
Talent is cheaper than table salt
I love the American author Stephen King’s quote, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
Whether you read King’s books or not, he is an incredibly successful author. He has received numerous awards and published 64 novels, and his books have sold more than 350 million copies. Obviously, he is a very talented writer. But even King would tell you that he held a variety of jobs to pay for his college writing studies, including being a janitor, a gas-station attendant and an industrial laundry worker. All the while, he was pursuing his real passion, which was writing stories. He had to work hard at writing while working his exhausting schedule. When his first debut novel, "Carrie," was accepted by the publishing house Doubleday, his career was set in motion. To some, it appeared that he was an instant success. What many don’t know is that "Carrie" was the fourth novel he had written. The first three had been rejected. How many of us would have given up writing after our first attempt was not accepted by a publisher?
There are many examples of people who had to prove, through hard work and perseverance, that they had what it takes to succeed. There are not, however, so many examples of people who were catapulted to fame and fortune without working hard. If you don’t believe me, try googling “famous people who have never had to work hard." Even superstars like LeBron James, who had a natural gift for basketball and was the number one pick in the 2003 NBA draft, had to spend hours upon hours practicing. He had to hone his natural ability to make it shine and become the legend that he is.
Talent can only open the door
Natural talent and ability might get you in the door, but only the hard work and dedication it takes to sharpen your skill will keep you there. If you do not take the necessary steps to gain experience and become better, your talent will not be able to shine through. Even if you have all the talent in the world, you still must work hard to achieve success.
The best actors, singers, writers, doctors, and teachers in the world work hard to maintain the talent that they have. Musicians work tirelessly on new music. Athletes practice many hours a day to stay at the top of their game. Doctors and teachers stay up to date on new methods and ideas to stay ahead in their field. Talent may have gotten them where they are, but to stay at the top they must continually work to succeed.
One hard-working visionary
There is a story of a young man born in Chicago who dropped out of high school at the age of 16. He went on to start his own business, which failed. So, he packed his bags for Los Angeles and tried his hand at acting. He failed again. He held a newspaper job for a while until he was fired for lack of creativity. He lived meagerly for some time, eating beans and racking up debt. Then he had a vision and an idea that would be rejected over 300 times before it would be realized. That idea was his vision for a theme park and one very famous mouse. He was none other than Walt Disney – one of the most inspirational visionaries of our time. No one can argue that his determination and hard work combined with his talent propelled him to be one of the greatest entrepreneurs we've ever known.
What's your talent?
What talent or gift do you have and how are you working hard to make the most of it? There is no better time than now to explore what hard work and determination can do to propel you forward!
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