Day 1: INTRODUCTION
Describe the circumstances surrounding the success of some people in your organization. How did their talents help them succeed? What other factors aided in their success?
Give an example of someone who has a wealth of talent but has not become successful.What has held this person back from achieving his or her goals?
THE HIGH-JUMP PRINCIPLE
What talents are you often recognized for?
Give an example of a time you were able to coast on your talent. What was the outcome?
So is talent ever enough? Yes, but only in the very beginning. Novelist Charles Wilson says, “No matter the size of the bottle, the cream always rises to the top.” Talent stands out. It gets you noticed. In the beginning, talent separates you from the rest of the pack. It gives you a head start on others. For that reason, natural talent is one of life’s greatest gifts. But the advantage it gives lasts only a short time. Songwriter Irving Berlin understood this truth when he said, “The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. Talent is only a starting point in business. You’ve got to keep working that talent.”
What are you currently doing to develop your talents?
Too many talented people who start with an advantage over others lose that advantage because they rest on their talent instead of raising it. They assume that talent alone will keep them out front.
They don’t realize the truth: if they merely wing it, others will soon fly past them. Talent is more common than they think. Mega-best-selling author Stephen King asserts that “talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
Clearly more than just talent is needed for anyone who wants to achieve success.
DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
So what does it take to succeed? Where does that leave you and me? Can anyone be successful? And where does talent fit in? Here’s what I believe:
1. Everyone Has Talent
People have equal value, but not equal giftedness. Some people seem to be blessed with a multitude of talents. Most of us have fewer abilities. But know this: all of us have something that we can do well.
In their book Now, Discover Your Strengths Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton state that every person is capable of doing something better than the next ten thousand people. And they support that assertion with solid research. They call this area the strength zone, and they encourage everyone to find it and make the most of it. It doesn’t matter how aware you are of your abilities, how you feel about yourself, or whether you previously have achieved success. You have talent, and you can develop that talent.
What are your talents? (If you have not explored them before, you may have to do some work to answer this question. If necessary, buy a book like Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton and take the Strengths Finder quiz, or do the exercises in What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. In addition, think about your most significant and fulfilling accomplishments. And interview colleagues, family, and close friends to get their input concerning your talents. When you have completed your research, list those strengths.)
2. Develop the Talent You Have, Not the One You Want
If I asked you who would be more successful, the person who relies on his talent alone or the person who realizes his talent and develops it, the answer would be obvious. Then I’ll ask you this question: Why do most people spend the majority of their time focused on strengthening their weaknesses?
One thing I teach people at my conferences is to stop working on their weaknesses and start working on their strengths. (By this I mean abilities, not attitude or character issues, which must be addressed.) It has been my observation that people can increase their ability in an area by only 2 points on a scale of 1 to 10. For example, if your natural talent in an area is a 4, with hard work you may rise to a 6. In other words, you can go from a little below average to a little above average. But let’s say you find a place where you are a 7; you have the potential to become a 9, maybe even a 10, if it’s your greatest area of strength and you work exceptionally hard! That helps you advance from 1 in 10,000 talent to 1 in 100,000 talent—but only if you do the other things needed to maximize your talent.
Go back to the list of your talents and rank them in order of how much strength you show in each area. From this ranking, what two or three talents should you concentrate on improving the most?
(Remember, you are trying to increase your strengths not strengthen your weaknesses.)
3. Anyone Can Make Choices That Will Add Value to Talent
The question remains: What creates the effectiveness that Peter Drucker says is necessary for converting talent into results? It comes from the choices you make. The key choices you make—apart from the natural talent you already have—will set you apart from others who have talent alone. Orator, attorney, and political leader William Jennings Bryan said, “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
I’ve discovered thirteen key choices that can be made to maximize any person’s talent:
1. Belief lifts your talent.
2. Passion energizes your talent.
3. Initiative activates your talent.
4. Focus directs your talent.
5. Preparation positions your talent.
6. Practice sharpens your talent.
7. Perseverance sustains your talent.
8. Courage tests your talent.
9. Teachability expands your talent.
10. Character protects your talent.
11. Relationships influence your talent.
12. Responsibility strengthens your talent.
13. Teamwork multiplies your talent.
Make these choices, and you can become a talent-plus person. If you have talent, you stand alone. If you have talent plus, you stand out.
YOU CAN DO IT!
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