This entry is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell, Leadershp Wired.
Talent grips us. We are overtaken by the beauty of Michelangelo’s sculpture, riveted by Mariah Carey’s angelic voice, doubled over in laughter by the comedy of Robin Williams, and captivated by the on screen performances of Denzel Washington.
However, we live in a world of upsets. The most talented do not always end up as celebrities, and those with less talent often do. Upsets are written into our history and occur around us every day. A ragtag army of revolutionaries defeated the British Empire to free the American colonies and to found a new nation. As a startup company, Google outwitted and outperformed entrenched search engines which had far more capital and name recognition.
Why are the most talented not always the best? What enables the less skilled to be, at times, far more successful?
The goal of this issue is not to minimize talent, but to emphasize qualities independent of talent which, when practiced, add value to others and ourselves. While the four traits I’ve highlighted in this lesson are not comprehensive, they are among the most prominent qualities that do not rely upon talent.
Teachability – The desire to listen, learn, and apply is not innate, but when cultivated, it aids the growth and development of a leader.
Look for and plan your teachable moments. Intentionally ask questions to draw out the depth of experience and knowledge in those around you. My best friends are my best teachers. I love to learn, and I am fascinated by individuals who have a wealth of wisdom to share. Find teachable moments, and make them count. Live to learn and you will really learn to live.
Initiative – Initiative is the inner drive that propels leaders to achieve great dreams. Leaders with initiative have an eagerness to make things happen. They have a positive restlessness that prevents them from being content with average. A person with initiative accepts responsibility for his or her own life. Such persons author their own history. Initiators incline themselves toward action.
Passion – Passion is a faultless predictor of success. How many high achievers lack enthusiasm? How many great leaders do you admire who are indifferent? A dispassionate person will not go far before they give up hope of achieving big dreams. On the other hand, a person of passion will move mountains to see their dream come to fruition. Passion long outlasts talent for a leader in pursuit of a vision.
Successful individuals prioritize their commitments according to their passion. They refuse to be dissuaded from living out the dream inside of them. When troubles come, they don’t have to artificially generate perseverance – it sweeps over them like an ocean wave.
Courage – Courage is an every day test. We often think of courage as a quality required only in times of great danger or stress, but courage is an everyday virtue, needed to live a life without regrets. In the words of James Harvey Robinson, “Greatness, in the last analysis, is largely bravery. Courage is escaping from old ideas and old standards and respectable ways of doing things.”
Summary – There is no substitute for talent, but there are several supplements that can transform even modest talent into greatness. Teachability, initiative, passion, and courage are a sampling of qualities that endow talent with effectiveness and spur average skills sets into extraordinary success stories. Don’t minimize talent, but magnify the qualities that can accompany it, and build them day by day.