Why Hard Work Beats Talent Every Time
Discover why hard work beats talent and why it’s the sustaining factor that will push you to the top of the heap and keep you there!
March 7, 2023 7:00 AM EST | 6 min read
Talent is the natural ability or capacity to perform a function.
When you possess talent in an area, you are gifted with the “knack” or “instinct” needed to perform a skill or display a specific quality.
But this only means you have the “raw mechanism.”
So, you have the equipment or tools needed to perform the skills.
According to a study by Angela Duckworth, a leading researcher on grit, hard work and perseverance, are more important predictors of success than talent.
Duckworth found that individuals who showed more grit (defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals) were more likely to achieve their objectives than those who were simply talented but lacked the necessary drive to succeed.
However, until you learn how to efficiently and effectively use, manage, and control these resources, you cannot perform or use your talents at the highest levels.
This is where “hard work” steps in.
“Hard work” applied to your natural talents and instincts will take you to levels others may never attain.
But talent alone will not do it…you must perfect your “talents” through “hard work” - practice, training, and exerting effort.
If you do not take steps to gain experience, education, and training as it relates to your talent, your natural ability will not shine.
Soon, others will surpass your accomplishments.
While talent is special, unique and your hidden gem, hard work beats talent.
It is the sustaining factor that will push you to the top of the heap and keep you there!
Talent needs fuel/energy (hard work) to shine brightly and remain vibrant.
A study published in Intelligence found that hard work and conscientiousness were better predictors of academic success than IQ.
The study revealed that students who worked hard and were more conscientious performed better academically than their more intelligent peers who lacked these qualities.
A talent truly is a gift.
It gives you a head start, but if you stop to smell the roses you will get beat to the finish line…you must keep churning.
Simply look at successful people in the worlds of sports, art, or entertainment; they don’t sit on their laurels.
Instead, they are constantly honing their talent/craft and working to stay relevant in their field.
For all their accomplishments and accolades, I think Michael Jordan (NBA Hall-of fame basketball player) and Tom Brady (NFL top player) are good examples of the importance of continuing to work hard.
Even if you are gifted with special talents and natural abilities, you still need to use them.
You can have all the talent in the world.
Yet, if you are not working hard to keep it active and show it to others, you will miss opportunities to achieve the level of success that you can reach.
When you work hard, your talent becomes your wildcard – that hidden factor you use to your advantage.
If you are not working hard, that talent remains latent and simply burns out slowly, becoming like a candle without a flame.
While it might look great on the surface, it isn’t providing any necessary or critical function – it becomes useless.
Much like a candle without a flame cannot light your way or keep you out of darkness, talent without hard work cannot consistently sustain a high level of success.
There are beautiful candles with wonderful scents that simply sit on a shelf or a table but rarely get noticed.
They don’t provide any concrete function or serve a truly useful purpose because they have no flame – they are lacking energy.
Hard work is the separating factor – the energy that fuels our skills, ambitions, desires, and talents to shine bright
A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 61% of employers value hard skills more than soft skills (such as talent).
This finding suggests that hard work is considered more valuable than natural talent even in the job market.
Hard work is the catalyst to winning in almost any situation.
Working hard is the primary and sustaining factor that gives you the edge to make your performance exemplary.
It is what propels you ahead of the competition.
Hard work is the practice and preparation you use to hone and enhance your natural skills and abilities.
So, hard work gets to the finish line ahead of others.
Here’s another example of why hard work beats talent.
Think of the tortoise and the hare.
The hare had all the talent – natural ability – to outrun the tortoise.
But the hare lost sight, neglected hard work, and ignored how the competition was preparing and carrying out the task at hand.
The tortoise just kept his nose to the ground and kept pressing on.
He worked hard and grasped the opportunity while the hare opened the door by losing sight of the finish line.
In the end, the tortoise prevailed.
The tortoise stayed focused; the hare lost focus.
The tortoise kept exerting effort at a pace he could handle while the hare took a break when one wasn’t really needed.
By keeping his mind and eyes on the goals and remaining engaged in the endeavor, the tortoise prevailed despite the natural ability and talent of the hare.
Another reason hard work beats talent.
Talented people that work hard
The best actors work day in and day out to hone their craft and perfect the character they are asked to play.
Musicians constantly play, write, and sing to keep their gifts functioning at the highest levels.
Athletes practice and practice to keep their game at the highest level.
Mathematicians and engineers are continually assessing or evaluating functions and formulas to create new methods or improve the methods we use.
Doctors and lawyers are constantly familiarizing themselves with new concepts and rulings to stay ahead in their field.
You would be hard-pressed to identify an area where simply resting on your laurels and never working hard to keep your talent functioning or improving keeps you ahead of the competition.
Hard work is a requirement for succeeding and staying successful regardless of your talent level.
Hard work beats talent every time!
While talent is the hidden factor and something of a wildcard that can be used as an edge to succeed, it is nothing without hard work.
Hard work is the strengthening factor that keeps you going and performing at high levels for prolonged periods.
Talent gives us a spark, but hard work allows us to create a flame that will burn for a long time.
Talent can get attention and exposure.
Your natural abilities can get you initial recognition and allow for possibilities and opportunities to come your way.
However, hard work is the factor that gives you the tools to grasp those possibilities or opportunities and then shape or transform them into realities.
Whether your talent is exceptional or your natural ability is average, hard work keeps you viable.
This allows you to develop your potential so that your performance is above expectations.
Keep learning with these quotes on consistency and perseverance.
September 7, 2020 at 5:33 PM
This reminds me of my coworker who always says “I’ll make up in numbers what I lack in talent.”
October 19, 2019 at 3:20 AM
in order to be successful in life, you need both talent and hard work. All talent and no hard work is nothing, and vice versa. Hard-working people endure because they put their mind on what they do. It all comes down to character. no wonder many employers these days include personality tests to their recruitment process.
January 28, 2019 at 7:46 AM
So, you’re saying that if a 3 foot midget works hard enough, he can eventually make it to the NBA and win the whole thing?
November 5, 2018 at 5:17 PM
I completely agree with you but I think it’s even more than you said. There is actually no such thing as talent. People are raised in a particular environment and they develop some skills naturally, we call that talent. At the end of the day, only hard work remains.
July 30, 2018 at 8:20 AM
Glad it’s spurring thought! Thanks for feedback.