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Personal Development

Which Is More Important? Talent Or Hard Work

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Before you read this post, what do you think is more important, talent or hard work? Here’s what I believe.

During the Olympic Games Rio 2016, I saw a lot of talent.

Usain Bolt sprinted past the field for three gold medals that add up to nine total. The Jamaican sprinter made it clear he’s the greatest track and field athlete ever—some say the greatest athlete across all sports.

Simone Biles put together a masterful performance in the gymnastics arena winning four gold medals plus a bronze medal. She cemented her status for many as the best gymnast in the history of the sport.

And, considered the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps also put on a show in Rio. For his final Olympic outing, he added five gold medals and one silver medal to make a record total of 23 gold medals.

Every athlete who competed in the Rio Olympics possessed an enormous amount of talent. And not only talent, they also put in a ton of hard work to get there.

If these athletes lacked either talent or hard work, then they would be on the couch watching like you and me.

And since I’m a heavy thinker, thinking about the Olympics led me to ask myself: Which is more important, talent or hard work?

Investigating Talent

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Let’s first analyze talent.

Natural, God-given talent is a beautiful thing. It looks so pretty and graceful when those with it show it off in the classroom, on the field, or in the workplace. The lack of struggle and superior performance is mesmerizing to the human eye.

Yet, on the inside, talent can deceive the mind. Talent spreads lies that you’re already better than your peers without trying hard, so you can relax and take it easy.

When you see your classmates study 15 hours for the Chemistry exam to get a C grade and you study two hours to get an A grade, it changes your hungry mentality. And when you know you don’t have to prepare in advance to speak in front of an audience because you can rock the stage based on your natural instincts, you don’t spend the extra hours preparing.

The message becomes why work so hard when you don’t have to. And everything goes smooth in the beginning with talent, so you don’t see the looming problem.

However, difficulties come over time when you don’t put in hard work to improve your talent. The competition gets better through hard work and time. And you’re staying the same or getting worse because you’re not putting in much effort.

So, in my opinion, talent’s greatest strength—the ability to be naturally better than your peers—leads to talent’s greatest weakness—tricking the mind that you don’t need to work hard.

In the end, the cream rises to the top and the talented don’t rise with it because they didn’t improve their skills.

And going back to our Olympics example, there were definitely some athletes who had the talent to reach the Olympics but missed out. They didn’t put in as much work to get there, so they wasted their potential.

Now it’s time to analyze hard work.

Investigating Hard Work

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Hard work looks at the process differently. It recognizes it doesn’t have all the natural talent in the world. So it knows for a fact that it needs to hustle on a regular basis.

This self-awareness and willpower to make up for inadequacies with hard work becomes the reason hard workers achieve massive success. Their limitations of talent produce the drive to never become lazy or quit. It’s a self-propelling engine that keeps on churning as they get better and smarter.

And they don’t have to face the temptation of knowing they can get by without working hard, unlike the naturally talented. This different mindset allows them to focus on what matters and have breakthroughs.

Because their mindset is different and thoughts influence actions, I’d take the hard worker over the naturally talented person any day of the week.

The hard worker is only going to get better, more efficient, smarter, and stronger. The talented person is only going to get lazier, rely more on their talent, and stay the same or get worse.

It’s just a matter of time when the hard worker surpasses the more talented—it’s going to happen.

That’s why I’m convinced that hard work is more important than talent.

The Perfect Combination: Talent + Hard Work

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We discovered that the winner is tireless hard work.

However, the perfect combination, one step ahead of the winning combination, is when you put together your talent and hard work. Then you make strides that other people can’t comprehend.

It’s for this reason that Kobe Bryant became one of the best players in the history of basketball, when other players with similar talent are forgotten. Kobe came into the NBA out of high school with high potential. But he didn’t rest on his talent and do just enough to get by.

He put in the hours each day to work like he didn’t have much NBA talent. Waking up before the sun rises to get extra shots in by himself, watching game film, and lifting weights when his teammates were relaxing, made all of the difference.

And the rest is history as his talent and hard work led him to five championships.

How To Utilize It

You don’t want to waste your potential. And neither do I. So how do we make sure we get the most out of our lives while we have the chance?

As I said above, it comes down to combining your talent with hard work. When you get these two opposites to come together for the sake of the team, the opportunities are endless.

Here are some action steps to do this:

1. Discover your talent

Because every human is unique, you’re going to gravitate to certain activities over others. Some people prefer art, others prefer music, some can’t stand either and prefer building things, and so on.

Your talent is what activity you move toward that you’re naturally good at or naturally enjoy doing. These two often go hand in hand because if you enjoy it, you’ll practice it more to get better. And if you’re good at it, you’ll often enjoy your success and stay with it.

Makes sense, right? So the first step has to be identifying your talent.

And you could know your talent before the age of 10, like Beyonce, or you could identify it later in life like KFC’s Colonel Sanders who didn’t become a chef until he hit age 40. Keep looking until you find it, it’s never too late.

2. Define your direction

Once you know your talent, it’s time to define your direction. Where do you want to go with it? What’s your ultimate goal?

Knowing this will be your North Star that guides you from the start, before you get lost in the day-to-day work and don’t know the purpose of all of your work.

Do you want to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Do you want to be a head coach? Do you want to invent a new technology? Do you want to start a nonprofit that shelters the homeless?

It also helps to know why you want to go a certain direction. Get a clear why and you’ll stay motivated because you can rely on it in times of hardship.

3. Start making progress

Enough thinking and reflecting, now you need to make the first move to get started. So keep your direction in the back of your mind, and put making progress each day in the front of your mind.

What’s the first move? Do it. What’s the next move? Do it. When you continue to make progress, you’ll build momentum as you get smarter and better at what you’re doing.

A productivity and dream killer is to wonder how you’re going to climb the mountain from the start. Suddenly you won’t be motivated and you’ll be paralyzed. Don’t do that.

Do take action to win each day. And eventually you’ll have a chance to reach your goal, the mountain will be in closing distance. If you don’t win each day, you will never get close.

4. Work hard

After the excitement of the goal and the new start wears off, there are going to be days where your work is tiresome and working is the last thing you want to do.

It’s at this time that the best separate themselves by continuing to practice. Those who don’t work hard take a few days off, get lazy, or quit altogether.

Working hard is the fourth step, but it’s the most important from my perspective. Because you have to work hard if you want to be great. I’m sorry that there’s no other way.

Anyone you admire worked their butt off to get to where they are.

From Elon Musk and Bill Gates, to Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice, and your favorite musicians and actors, they all got to where they are by hard work over time.

5. Stick with it

Working hard for a month or a year is one thing. But sticking with your hard work for years and decades is where you separate yourself from the pack and experience unbelievable results.

Imagine spending 10 years focusing and improving on what you do. That’s 3,650 days compounding together to help you reach your potential.

You can call it the 10,000 hour rule or whatever you want, the truth is you’ll become an expert in your field with this dedication.

Once you get older and advance further in a career, it becomes obvious that hard work is more important than talent. So stick with your hard work and you won’t live with the regret that you could have been a better version of yourself.

Getting the most out of your potential is the recipe for a satisfied life. So work hard, baby.

How do you feel about talent and hard work? What examples from your life prove that talent or hard work mattered more?

Want to read more about success? Read Success And Failure Go Hand In Hand.

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Career

Life Tip: Never Take Anything Good For Granted

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Have you ever had something really good in your life, until you took it for granted and lost it? What a horrible, miserable feeling, right? It’s the worst.

I know from experience.

My senior year of basketball still leaves a sour taste in my mouth thinking about it.

It’s strange though because it started out good, like really good.

After thousands of hours of insane dedication to practice my basketball craft and improve my shooting, dribbling, passing, defending, and rebounding, I reached a dream of mine: make the starting lineup for the St. Xavier Bombers varsity basketball team.

Not only that, my first game of the year couldn’t have been better considering I only played 14 minutes the entire game. The stat line below proves it.

brian-robben-basketball-stats

And we won the game by 23 points. Everything is going smooth, until it wasn’t.

From the next game through the last game of the year it was all downhill.

Let me explain.

The Lost & Final Basketball Season

Let’s just say I was a different guy in high school. Now I’m all motivated and focused on building my businesses and leaving a legacy.

But the 18-year-old Brian was all about wreaking havoc and having a good time above all.

To express himself at school or during basketball team activities, he’d go as far as he could to toe the line of breaking the rules for pure laughs and excitement. Often he crossed the line.

Here are some of the reckless things I did during that basketball season:

  • After receiving a hard foul when driving to the basket, I stayed on the ground and racked off 5 push ups before shooting foul shots
  • On the bench during a pre-season game, I grabbed my phone and sent a tweet out to my Twitter followers explaining what I just did (tweeted during the game)
  • Ruined team pictures by putting a 3 goggles sign on my thigh, so the school had to retake them a week later
  • Stormed the refs locker room after a frustrating overtime loss when a bunch of questionable calls went against us
  • Put a teammate in a headlock during a shoot around hours before a game
  • And a lot more crazy stuff

That’s not close to all of the bad-boy moves.

I don’t know if you realize this, but it’s hard to play solid basketball and stay in the coaching staff’s good graces when you’re messing around whenever you can. It doesn’t work out well.

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That’s why it’s to no shock looking back that I got suspended twice. The first time I had to sit out two quarters against our biggest rival. And then I was suspended a full week from the team later in the year.

Not to mention a bunch of other disciplinary issues and conflicts with coaches that I don’t have time nor want to discuss.

It all boils down to the fact that my antics sabotaged my final year of basketball.

After the season ended, the problem was I couldn’t go back in time to stay focused on basketball and give it my 100% again. That ship had sailed. The opportunity was gone.

So I had to, and now have to, live with regret when thinking back to that year and what could have been.

But regret about not appreciating the game of basketball isn’t the only thing I received from that experience. It’s the unforgettable lesson: never take anything good for granted.

Fortunately I learned this lesson at age 18, not 48.

Never Take It For Granted

Thanks to my failure that year, I developed a wiser perspective to appreciate the good things in my life.

So now I know never to take my work, my company, my clients, my health, my friends, my family, and life in general for granted. Regret is the worst feeling out there so I want to live in a way that eliminates it.

Where maybe if my senior year basketball season went smoother I’d never have learned the full extent of that lesson. Who knows? Maybe something far worse than a disappointing basketball season could have went down.

But because of the outcome I get to hold that experience in my back pocket going forward. I turned a scar into an advantage.

Although it’s always cool for me to flip negative experiences into positive ones, it’d be even better if I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

Truth is you don’t have to be a dummy like me.

I don’t know what your “it” is (I can guess it’s your family, friends, faith, career, pets, house, teachers, and country). I do know you need to never take it for granted if you want what’s best out of your life.

Also, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that come and go during the passing days.

It could be your peaceful commute to work where you’re alone with your thoughts. It could be the Monday morning cup of coffee you can afford without thinking about. Or it can be your place’s proximity to the beach that other people would kill to have.

Never taking life’s big and small gifts for granted is a big step to living the good life.

And there’s another reason to have this mindset: you don’t want to mess around with regret.

Regret Is Brutal, Eliminate It

Regret is the worst feeling out there in my opinion.

Sadness sucks but you can become happy again. Anger isn’t fun but you can eventually relax and get over it.

But regret, there’s no way to reverse it and recover. It sticks with you the rest of your life. That’s why it’s brutal.

Your only solution is to do your best job to eliminate it at all times by both being super grateful for what’s good in your life and staying focused to keep it going well.

If you are unappreciative and lose focus, there’s sometimes no going back from there. Your fate is often sealed once the moment ends.

I want my life to be filled with as little regret as possible. That’s part of the ingredients for a great life, in my humble opinion.

Don’t you agree? Please join me in this effort to never take anything good for granted.

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Personal Development

Brian, Promise You’ll Never Stop Writing

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Hey guys, to celebrate video number 40 on my YouTube channel I put together a different kind of video.

Here I share a personal story and value I hold dear to my heart. It’s all about my relationship with writing and how it’s went from zero to hero in my life.

I hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired!

If you’re interested, here’s the transcript:

Let’s first take it back to high school. You sucked at writing. Just like all of your other classes, you hated it and let your teachers know by your classroom antics or naps, and doing the bare-minimum on papers.

Writing never interested you because it was a part of the school system you went to war against.

Brian this is a note to your future self.

Things changed your freshman year of college. You wanted to be a big time lawyer, and writing soon became your major since top lawyers know how to read and write well. So you needed to write, and write well, to get a top GPA and reach your dreams. And you did.

But things changed again. You said see ya to law school, hello entrepreneur land and started the blog takeyoursuccess.com. That meant constant writing, and hours of it to publish 2-3 posts a week for the past few years. And then you became an author from your writing, already accomplishing a major achievement on your bucket list through this method of communication.

Now writing is your daily routine as much as breathing and eating is. Writing is your public and personal journal, the world sees it but you know the heart of what’s behind the words and the words unsaid. Writing is magical to you.

Although you’re a business owner, author, and coach, at the end of the day, remember your journey all started from a blog, from writing. You’re a writer, writing your story as you go, figuring it out piece by piece, and telling the world, striving to create your legacy one word at a time.

So note to future self, never stop writing. You wouldn’t be the same without it. And all great stories have a storyteller. You happen to be your own storyteller, just how you like it.

What’s your story?

What do you want to tell your future self to commit to?

What’s magical to you?

I hope by hearing part of my story you find clarity in your story. Because we’re all in this thing called life together, so let’s make the most of it.

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Career

The Art Of Negotiation: Care Less

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the-art-of-negotiation

The art of negotiation is truly an art. Either you’re skilled enough to win, or you’ll stumble to the finish line as a loser. Those are the only two possible outcomes.

Depending on the deal, the difference in winning and losing could mean securing your dream job or entering unemployment, getting a deal or getting ripped off $10 grand, and building a million dollar business or going bankrupt.

But like many things in life—how to write a winning resume, who to marry, how to make money, how to invest—no one teaches negotiation.

Our parents: only if we’re lucky. The school system: fails at this. The government: nope.

If government and corporations had it their way, we’d never learn to negotiate so we would have to take the short stick without complaining. That’s just wrong.

Since you’re reading this article, you’re on the right path though. Because the first step is to want to know how to negotiate better.

The second step is to learn how…

“He Who Cares Less, Wins”

Emotions can often be helpful.

For example, you should feel love toward the person you’re about to marry before you go through with it. Duh!

Or you should feel sad when your parents are getting old and sick. That sadness can help you appreciate them better and prioritize quality time going forward.

But in the negotiation arena, emotions will kill you before you know it. It’ll be like a sniper with his finger on the trigger and a red dot on your chest—it’s already too late for you.

Why do emotions kill negotiation ability? It’s mainly because feelings cloud judgement.

Your brain focuses on how it’s feeling instead of reason, logic, and answering does the math work for you to go forward. Insecurities also come into play, which can make you do the opposite of what you intended.

Clouded judgement leads to rash decisions and often buyer’s remorse.

It also costs you real dollars.

This study found anxious negotiators were more likely to take deals 12% less financially attractive than their counterparts. If it’s a 12% loss off a $500,000 mortgage, we’re talking about $60,000. That’s a big deal!

But consider someone’s approach who couldn’t care less about winning the deal: They’re relaxed. They speak clearly and listen carefully. And they’re focused on the specific details of what they’re getting and giving.

Not to mention they hold the leverage because they don’t need the deal. If it helps them they’ll take it, but by no means are they getting on their hands and knees to beg for it like a dog.

It’s not hard to figure out that someone who is relaxed and focused performs better than someone who is scatterbrained and under pressure.

This explains precisely why caring less helps you win.

Plus, when you care less, you can’t lose. You either win the deal on your terms or you leave it on the table as a draw.

Caring less is precisely how you ensure you never make a bad deal that takes the shirt off your back. Those deals are the unrecoverable ones that will leave you unable to sleep at night.

Let’s check out how caring less comes to play out in day-to-day scenarios.

Real Life Negotiations

Negotiation happens everywhere, all the time.

You probably just miss it or don’t label them as deal-making.

To open your eyes and get a grip on how this goes down, read these four examples about how negotiating the right way changes the entire landscape.

1. Grad school admissions: Whether a grad school accepts you and how much money they give you comes down to 100% negotiation.

The university is negotiating to get the best students in their class (and fill the seats to make money). You’re negotiating to get into the school and make the best choice for yourself.

If you’re a top candidate with acceptances to all the elite schools, the game is on to negotiate the best offer package. You’ll want to negotiate for a fat scholarship, maybe a stipend, and see if you can get anything else (like a teaching assistant job) to entice you to come.

If you have average grades and admissions test scores, you’re playing a game of negotiating to get into better schools with no scholarship or less reputable ones with scholarship money. Use the acceptances into the better schools as leverage to get more money.

2. Buying a car: This is the classic negotiation scenario used from personal finance bloggers to authors. (Maybe because just about everyone buys a car and has room to negotiate.)

If you’re like most people, you’ll arrive at the lot and make a beeline to the car you want. Then tell the salesman, “I’ve always wanted this car. It’s perfect. How much is it?”

Their signals are telling them you’re an easy sale and to negotiate little. You cost yourself potentially thousands of dollars.

But say you come back another day after reading this article and bring a more tactical approach. Instead of making a straight shot to one car, you tell the salesman, “I don’t have any particular car in mind. I’m not sure I really need a car to be honest. Just had some free time and wanted to look around.”

You ask about a few car prices then “randomly” stumble on the one you actually want to ask the price, without being too excited (care less).

This is how the playing field gets tilted. The salesman is now the desperate one trying to both find you the right car and sell it to you.

And when you negotiate, you have to make an offer and be prepared to walk away with nothing (that’s a draw not a loss). There are plenty of stories where someone walks and the dealer calls them back the next day to drop the price to get the deal done.

This scenario works when buying a house, motorcycle, boat, and all other related-purchases.

3. Job offer and salary package: I feel strongly about this one. You have to negotiate your salary if you like yourself!

There’s free money on the other side if you do this well. That’s why I dedicated an entire section of my money book to salary negotiation, and have written about this multiple times on TYS. (See here and here.)

Let’s break it down (assuming you’ve been offered the job): The company is negotiating to get you on their team at a fair (or cheap) price, and you’re negotiating to get the job at a higher price.

Communicating you have other employment options and while you’d love to work here you know you may have to decline the deal, can often make the employer want you more. Odds are they fork over the extra money and hope you pan off as a long-term investment.

But if you don’t know how to negotiate and say, “I accept this,” the second after they tell you the salary offer, there’s no extra money for you. The reason you have less money is all your fault.

4. Business projects: Business comes down to negotiation across the board. If you’re an employee, freelancer, or small business owner, you need to know how to persuade the other side to get the deal and price you want.

Bad business negotiation means being in a place of desperation where you take contracts even if it’s 10%, 25%, or 50% your normal rate. The desperation will come through in your communication and be the reason you get taken advantage of in broad daylight.

A smart employee should recognize your company’s price is your price, and not care if you lose the deal because the person on the other side only values cheap labor, and not high quality work.

A freelancer should know the value in their work, price it accordingly, and have a take it or leave it mentality with clients. There’s always more work to be won instead of compromising your skill for cheap labor.

A business owner should double their rates to bring in more revenue (assuming they have a solid product, sales, and marketing), while not caring if they lose their smaller clients. That’s the quickest way to bring in more money, and it sure beats getting nickel and dimed on project rates.

Final Words

Everything is negotiable.

Knowing that, it’s your job to care less by having more options on the other side in case you don’t get what you want.

How do you get more options? The single best way is to work hard and provide value so you become financially well off.

Poor people are often in desperate, emergency-like situations where they can’t afford to shop around for a smart transaction. Where the rich have more time and opportunities to ensure they win the negotiation.

With wealth also comes the freedom to need less and become beholden to no one. This self-reliance empowers you at the negotiation table to only make deals if the numbers make sense to you.

You’re in a position of power when you’re finances are taken care of regardless what happens in these daily negotiations.

As you keep living, keep your eye out for negotiations big and small. Seeing them go down will give you mental reps and prepare you for your day-to-day negotiations.

Caring less about what you want, ironically gives you a better chance of getting it.

Related: Everything Is Negotiable

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