Hard work Trumps Talent


Just picked up a book by Matthew Quick (of Silver Lining Playbook fame) called Boy 21. Skimmed the first few pages and the main character’s father threw this nugget out in the first 5 pages. “Hard work beats out talent in the last of the race.” I have read about that far and to be honest that quote stopped me cold in my tracks.

This is so often true and in the music industry, or any industry for that matter, the talented, the one who have been told they are great their whole lives jump out of the pond and into the river which ultimately leads to the sea and on into the ocean, provided they make it that far. Along this journey the talented start running into many things, namely, other talented people, some kind of talented people with no drive, and some people with a little talent and the will to move mountains a spoonful at a time. If I am a betting man and these three are my choices I take the latter every time.

Why? Because the world is filled with talented people but so few who are actually willing to put in the “sweat equity” to keep at it until the job is done. This is not to say that there are not immensely talented people out there with just as immense amount of work ethic. There are and these people are often called genius, and rightfully so. But sometimes having just the spark of want and culminating it with a go “with-it-ness ” makes all the difference.

I had a basketball coach in middle school who used to run us like dogs who owed him money. I mean beginning of practice you started running, practiced, and then at the end it was followed by a good half mile and more suicides than I thought I could take. He used to say “boys the difference at the end of the game is who is holding their shorts. If you look over and it is late in the fourth quarter and one team is holding their shorts most of the time they are going to lose.” It was all about conditioning, to be the ones with air for the last quarter, to be the guys not holding their shorts when go time arrived.

We all miss the mark and get discouraged in this life, regardless of our passions and the task we chose to pursue but I have noticed, looking in retrospect, and doing that big evaluation we all probably do I see those hurdles don’t seem so cumbersome and the mistakes I made in the past I don’t make any more. Why? Because I have conditioned myself not to make them. And man I made them but in the now, going forward, I learned and I would not have if I had quit or given up.

It is the struggle in these days which defines us. Or better yet how we respond in the struggle. If you have talent use it wisely and stick to it when things don’t go your way. Keep a journal and look back from time to time at those patches that were not so smooth and then look how you made it through. The same goes for the person who does not quit and has just a bit of the old spark of talent.

Yet at the end of the day, when I am at the ticket window placing my bet, I will put it right on the nose of that rough horse whose coat might not be as shiny and may even have some scars on it. Heck that horse might finish the race dead last but I know it will be back the next time to pay off eventually.

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