Why The Dedicated Always Win Out In The End

“I’m just not as talented as he is”

In the first weeks, months, and even years of competition between peers in any field, the advantage goes to the ‘naturally gifted’, the ‘talented’, the ‘gifted’.

We’ve all seen it: the highschooler who gets every lead in the musicals, the young salesman that consistently outsells his coworkers, the kid on track team that no one can seem to keep pace with.

But what happens 10, or 5, or even 2 years down the road?

Let’s take our imaginary “talented’ youth, say they are a gifted dancer, and name them Billy.

And let’s take another, shall we say “less gifted” (read: clumsy) dancer, named Zoey.

For at least the first few years of their dancing lives, Billy will consistently outperform Zoey, that’s just the way things are, some people are better than others, and you need to accept there’s always someone better than you.

But what does Billy learn about dance by being so good?

In many cases, Billy learns that dance is easy and requires no work or discipline.  While others in the studio must practice for hours to master a move, Billy practices for 5 minutes and nails it.  While other students need help from dance teachers and coaches, Billy thinks he’s already got it all figured out and doesn’t listen to the voices of experience.  Even when Billy is more amenable to instruction and hard work, he rarely learns to spend the kind of daily practice time most professional dancers do.  Billy started out as a 8/10 dancer, and after 3 years is still a solid 8/10.

Zoey on the other hand, sees that while she is not fantastic, when she practices (a lot) she gets better.  With proper encouragement and a supportive environment (good teachers and parents) she is rewarded for dedication and hard work, and has the intrinsic reward of getting better at something she loves.  She starts out as a 1/10 dancer, and every 6 months gets one level better through hard work and discipline.  3 years later, she is a 7/10 dancer.

Zoey is still not as good as Billy.

At this point a lot of Zoeys give up, and are encouraged to do so by well-meaning parents, friends and teachers that say “it’s just not your thing, find a safe career”.


This is the moment where, if the dedication continues, she will start to match Billy’s ability, and soon OVERTAKE him.

Zoey CONSISTENTLY improves, and eventually that will ALWAYS win over “natural talent”

Now the topic of whether or not “natural talent” even exists is a whole other blog post, I personally don’t believe in it, but even if you do, take solace in the fact that with hard work and dedication, you can surpass any “natural” at anything.
What did you used to be terrible at?  What have you worked your butt off to improve on?  Share in the comments!

~ by Christopher G Keene on October 5, 2012.

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