Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't Be Fooled... Like I Was!

Very often, I'll have a conversation with a student that either touches a nerve, or simply makes me unable to think about anything else for a week. I was lucky enough to experience this last week.

Trying to explain to me why there wasn't any way she'd be able to win...

"The other girl is just way too talented. She was born like that!"

Is talent enough, or is there more to achieving? I've had this discussion/debate with many students and other coaches over the years, all of which come to a similar conclusion: "Who knows?"

I KNOW!! I know the answer, because I've lived it first hand.

I've listened to a countless number of "experts" talk on this topic, many of them saying that talent will always be the determining factor in one's success. To put it bluntly... BULLCRAP!!!! Most of these so-called experts haven't ever been in the trenches of competition, and never will, making it impossible for them to ever know this answer. They'll never understand what it feels like to either be such an underdog, that extreme hard work is the only way to overcome the odds... or conversely, be such a favorite, that you feel such hard work isn't necessary. I can talk on this subject with such confidence because I was the latter!

I'm the same age as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, two of the best tennis players of all time. When we were each 10 years old, I was easily as talented (if not more, actually) than both of them. My hand-eye coordination, athletic ability, and concentration levels were off the charts. I was hitting the ball over the net with my dad when I was 2 1/2 years old. To put that into context, look at your 3 year old son, daughter, or grandchild, and picture him doing that... not easy!

The public has always been in awe of the video of Agassi rallying with an adult on the tennis court when he was 7 or 8 years old. I was doing this at age 4! To say the least, the talent that I was born with was more than enough to launch me to the top of the tennis world~ easily, not even a question.

I say all of this, not to brag or seem arrogant... but instead, to prove to you that talent is only a tiny piece of the "success puzzle." There must be something else that we must include, on a daily basis: Blue collar, hard work! The kind of work that we wake up craving, and go to bed wishing we had more time to continue. This work ethic must come first over everything if we wish to get to that next level... that level that others are unwilling to "work" for. This level, with all my natural talent, was never going to be for me. Why? Because I wasn't willing to put in the time to reach that high. I wasn't willing to sacrifice my childhood, as Sampras and Agassi did, in order to become top 10 in the tennis world. This same sacrifice is what Agassi now blames for his incredible unhappiness growing up... but that's for another conversation.

Talent, alone will never take us to the top, whether that's athletic, business, or our personal challenges we face everyday. If we want to become the best, become the highest paid at work, or lose that extra weight, we must put in the time... EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Having that kind of commitment means we must love what we're doing, otherwise we won't continue when the pain comes... and you know the pain's coming! If we have a passion for what we're doing, we'll be willing to put in the extra time necessary to reach the levels we strive for.

Yep, I was born with an incredible amount of natural talent... but the passion needed to make that talent shine wasn't there (sorry, dad -- I know you wished I had that love). If you're the most talented at what you do, work harder than the next guy. If you're that "next guy," without the natural talent, make sure you're grinding harder and longer than the one with that talent... because if you do, you'll go farther -- guaran-freakin-teed!

Let me finish with the most obvious example I can come up with:

Look at Tiger's body compared to Phil's. Are you kidding me??!! Phil was actually thought of to be more naturally talented than tiger growing up. There were stories about Mickelson, and the unimaginable things he could do with the golf ball... but as you can see, he isn't willing to put in the same hard work as tiger, resulting in what some would say, an underachieved career.

Who would you rather be?


Sarah said...

so true. genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work. (or something like that) great post.

Critical+Technical said...

I agree. I don't think anyone was "born" to do something. Today I read an article that sprinters are sprinters and couch potatoes and couch potatoes just because of their feet (length of toes, angle of arch, etc).

Rettakat said...

This was such an honest, incredible post, full of truth that would be life-changing if believed and acted upon! Oh, how I wish someone had coached me with this when I was young. I am not/never was an athlete. But I follow you because the ideas you share transcend sports, and cover all areas of a life. I was told I was a "gifted" artist. I was oblivious to the fact that success is not earned by Talent, but rather Hard Work.

Your students are sooo blessed to have you teaching them these powerful truths.
Thank you,

Midnight Whisperer said...

Great post as always. I agree wholeheartedly, if the passion to be/do something is not within you, talent will not replace or supplicate for it... Though it does help to a degree ; )

plainolebob said...

Wow, I thought that was a before and after picture, well they were wearing the same color shirt.
I know what you mean about that training though, I came in first and third at the local beer drinking contest, guess I over trained. I guess this makes me a super star.
Love ya Coach Dayne, fantastic post, as always.

Jay Dreamer said...

I love this post soo much! "Talent, alone will never take us to the top" I used to be oblivious to this, but I'm beginning to realize that statement is VERY true. Thanks for sharing and thank you SOOO MUCH for your kind words on my last post :} I believe there will be better days to come. Thanks again! Love,


Slimming Sammy said...

A friend of mine is a stunning artist, and he used to have people queuing up asking him to make some art for art galleries and exhibitions. He always turned them down. When I asked him why, he said he didnt want to make money doing what he loved because when it became a chore and a job then he would stop loving his art. He became a really rather sucessfull accountant instead.

Like you said, if your born with a gift, doesnt mean you have to use it. it might infuriate other people who long for that gift that your not using, but ultimately its your life and to be happy, you have to live it the way you want. Not the way other people tell you you should live it.

Annie, The Amazing Shrinking Girl said...

Another great post! And btw, my post about you is set to go up first thing tomorrow morning. Please check it out! I'm really glad you found me and I found your blog!

So motivational!

Patrice S. said...

I have to 100% agree with you.
Great post!

Phil-theincredibleshrinkingman said...

I love reading your posts, they really give me food for thought especially working through the night at work.

I can so relate to this, a friend and myself both work for the same company, she always says that i am much more talented in the job however she is now the manager and i'm still just an operator, why? she wanted it more and worked harder for it

Just Playin' said...

That natural talent thing....I know what you mean. You can't teach that. YOu are born with it. But there is plenty more you CAN teach and learn and practice with passion and excel. Doesn't all have to be innate!

Missy said...

I have a brother who was as talented as A-Rod, if not more so, and he wasn't willing to put in the time or energy. He is now a manager at McDonald's (there is a little more to the story.)

Melissa B. said...

From one Superior Scribbler to another, I concur wholeheartedly! And I'm the Original SS, too...glad to meetcha...

Write Right Where You "R" said...

Oh, the baby! I should have had some girls! You're so blessed. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Greg said...

Incredible post! You've changed my life!

Greg said...

What Dayne says is true. He was an incrediably talented child-I should know I'm his step-dad. Dayne's hand-eye coordination was unsurpassed. All that witnessed his ability had the same opinion-this kid's going to be a famous professional tennis player. However, this was not to be. Dayne lacked the passion to pursue the sport hence was not willing to devote the considerable time and effort required to hone this incrediable God given talent. But, that's OK. He would have been forced-fed with a predicatable outcome of becoming a miserable, mal-adjusted person. Dayne now pursues his true passions and is a very happy, well-adjusted father-a wonderful guy. What more could a step-father ask for.

Gem said...

Wow. This is really what I needed to hear today. I might print it out and post it next to my study area/workout area haha. Thank you!