Gifted or Hard Working: Which Is Most Important?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On July 5, 2016

Gifted-or-Hard-Working-Which-is-Most-Important?We’ve all known gifted individuals. Sometimes, they’re pretty amazing. They can do some things better than anyone else without even breaking a sweat. And of course we all know about gifted individuals who let the trappings of success rob them of their talents.

We’ve seen truly outstanding individuals in sports, the arts, and business who take the gifts they have and hone them through hard work and discipline to achieve things that no one thought possible.

And there are those who have talent and work on it, but see the demand for what they are so good at fade away. The marketplace no longer wants what they have to offer.

A friend recently told me about an individual he knew from college. Tyrone was recruited to play football at a Big Ten school. If he’d had to rely solely on his academic efforts, Tyrone would not have made it to a major university. But he was gifted. He was one of the best offensive linemen ever to come out of high school in his state. That gift won him a four-year scholarship at a major university.

While he was there, Tyrone worked hard on his talent. He had good coaching and he became even better at what he did. Every year he got better. Then came his junior year—and with it a revelation. As gifted as he was, Tyrone was not good enough to make it in the NFL. He wasn’t quite big enough. He wasn’t quite fast enough. And he knew it.

My friend knew Tyrone and would see him at the university library late at night. Tyrone would grab this huge book, take it over to a table, and spend an hour or two reading it. When my friend went to ask him about it, he noticed that the book was an unabridged Oxford English dictionary. Night after night, Tyrone was reading through the dictionary!

When asked why he was doing that, Tyrone replied that he knew his football skills weren’t going to bring him the future he wanted. But he recognized that his gift had given him another gift: the opportunity to take advantage of a college education.

To make a long story short, Tyrone ended up staying at the university after his days of playing football were over—and not only did he graduate, but he went on to earn a Master’s degree in business.

Chances are that you’re gifted. Maybe you don’t have the physical skills that someone like Tyrone had, but you’ve got some talent and gifting that has enabled you to do well. Maybe you’ve even parlayed that into a good business. But what if what you are good at is no longer in demand? What if the market has moved on from what you’re great at?

There’s a good chance that your gifts have put you in a position to do something about that. It’s not enough just to be great at something. You have to stay great by improving and expanding your gifts. How do you do that? You can out-read, out-learn, out-think, and out-plan the competition. And when you’ve done that, you’ll be in a position to out-perform your competitors as well.

Gifts are great, but the truly successful people in life are the ones who take the gifts they have (and the opportunities that they present) and work hard to be even better.