Marie Forleo definitely got that one right.
When I think of the people that I am utterly amazed and impressed by, I have always taken some solace in that their natural talent was the major reason for their success. Truth be told, that belief was a comforting excuse, a way out for me not to push myself. It allows you to bow out; to not be held responsible for your lack of supreme-success. You think, “I don’t have that special talent, that whatever it is (Je ne sais quoi), so I’ll be happy with really good; maybe even excellent. Really good is nice, it’s safe, it’s still better than average…and I don’t have to try so hard." There actually becomes a comfort level and an acceptance in this thinking. Now, I know that realization to many of you will resonate as “duh”, but for me, I never gave this realization any traction. I didn’t give it the respect it deserves. And it’s not until now, that I am actually understanding the power of it; I’m hoping to get you there quicker.
Genetics plays its part, talent too of course...but both are trumped by Dedication to Learning the Main Thing. Commitment. Practice. Discipline...complimented by a dash of wiliness for the extra edge (there’s that “duh” reaction I was telling you that you’d feel). But really, those are not easy. We all understand that those qualities are vital, but are you ready to make the sacrifice that those words require? What helps? Knowing that these qualities are simply "acts of". Meaning, there is no talent required, grit and tenacity prevail here. Any one of us can decide to put a stake in the ground to master whatever it is we are gunning for. Top all of that with your own unique “it” factor that makes you special to all of us...that "it" is your gift, your flair, your distinction…it is not the thing that gets you there, but what then further sets you apart and catapults you to who you are. Let’s look at examples, and before we continue to debate the legitimacy/weight of natural talent, let’s immediately delete that premise with Chicago's own:
Michael Jordan: did not make the cut for his high school varsity basketball team (this has always floored me). As many superstars do, he turned the rejection into motivation, only to then become, well…Michael Jordan.
Richard Branson: Never mind that he overcame a battle with society's yet-to-be understood dyslexia, but even today with all of his success, his discipline continues as he awakes everyday at 5 a.m. to allow him quality time with his family and for exercise. Since those are priorities, it becomes easy to stick with and automatic.
Seth Godin: Submitted one of his first transcripts to somewhere along the lines of 800 people and all he heard was no, until he figured out who he was here to serve. Then, he got his yes. His book The Dip is a great read on pushing forward when you are constantly faced with the temptation to call it quits.
Katy Perry: was dropped from 3 different record labels before her single I Kissed A Girl blew up.
JK Rowhling: 12 publishing houses dismissed Harry Potter...she knew persistence would win.
Stephen King: at 16 started trying to sell short stories, he would spike his rejection letters on a nail, "emptying" as needed. His breakout novel Carrie, denied 30 times, was chucked into the trash, to then have it be resurrected by his wife who knew it was a hit (a little lady luck watching over your shoulder never hurts).
One of my favorite thought leaders, Stephen Covey. As we all have our own juggling acts of life...personally, being a Campus Director in the pet care industry, launching my own coaching business, regular life and fulfillment through being a wife, staying healthy with daily exercise, trying to get that meditation started...Stephen's mantra echoes in my head often. But even so, I still find myself losing sight of exactly what is “the main thing”. And that main thing, that goal, that is where your focus needs to be, the dedication to, the practice on.
My personal coach, Greg Faxon, puts this a different way. He talks of performance = potential - interference. I love that because it immediately shines light on what the interference (literally) is in reaching your potential, the equation is clear and powerful. Figure out what the main thing is, put your focus and energy on it, combined with the power of commitment, and you become the best you. Superstar you. It is another way of saying how any one of us can be like these amazingly successful people we admire. That’s the rub, that's when I could no longer deny that it is on anyone but me.
Dedication. Commitment. Practice. Hiccups and trials along the way...absolutely. But you can figure it out like the best of them. Looking for inspiration? Look to others, but also start looking at yourself. What can you start doing that will make yourself proud? Baby steps, Bob Wiley was onto something here. There will be a time where something clicks that the motivation you seek from external success stories turns inward, and you start taking the steps for your own sake. Maybe that’s today?