‘Talent comes first or hard-work?’ – has been the question of every budding leader, student, HR, manager, entrepreneur, teacher and parent since decades. Regardless of our field of study or interest, we have been chasing the perfect formula to success. However, the answer has not risen above the horizon yet; it’s still dangling somewhere, half submerged under-water and half aloft like a beacon left for the ones who’ve lost their way.
Thus, before answer the question, let’s first investigate if talent and hard-work are individually enough to be successful. This will in turn let us know the answer to our actual question about which of these come first. Let’s conceptually and with relevant examples, dissect the subject and see for ourselves what remains to be discovered.
Is Talent enough?
Talent can be defined as a natural aptitude towards a particular subject. Talent is intangible; it can hardly be measured or confirmed. But in order to be part of the battle for success, one needs certain tools to fight. Can we fight with intangible equipment? Not in reality. If talent was enough, Steve Jobs would become a legend the day he came up with the idea for Apple Inc. And if raw material was ever enough, iron ore would by itself become into a saw.
Therefore, talent cannot be the only ingredient of success, but it is definitely a raw material than can be worked upon to enable success. If you need some weapons to fight your way to the top, invest in your talent, hone and shape it into a skill. A skill is an ability to do something well. This means, that only when hard-work is added to talent, it can become a skill. This skill can take you one step closer to your goal.
Is Hard-work enough?
Hard-work is the process that needs some raw material, generally. Today, if a person doesn’t understand the basic concept of rhythm and can’t catch it, regardless of practice, they cannot be a successful drummer. Passion and belief generally emanate from talent and inspire hard-work.
Work-hard to pull the moon down every day, it won’t happen unless you have the right tools. Thus, hard-work in turn also requires channelizing and focusing on particular aspects such as specific talents. And most importantly, it needs a mentor who can guide and show you the path. Remember, nobody achieved anything alone in this world. Each of us needs authenticity and support to be able to make it.
“Footprints in the sand were not made by sitting down”
This proverb is one of the most in-depth metaphors that can be applied to this eternal debate. The line has a beautiful insight on the importance of natural gifts and honing them into productivity. Having fully functional feet has nothing to do with creating footprints; one still needs to take the effort of walking on the sand, to be able to leave a mark.
Thus, debating about ‘talent or hard-work’ is like debating about who came first – ‘the chicken or the egg’? One needs talent as well as hard-work, including a touch of luck to grab the opportunity at the right time in the right place. Additionally, one also needs the support of a muse who will tell you whether to walk on sand or on water, to be able to make the perfect sun-kissed dent, ever!
Talent can refer to passivity, luck and fundamentally natural aspects that lead to success; while hard-work refers to active work, strategy and controllable phenomena that make up success. The balance of both is required for success. I personally believe that talent and hard-work are needed in 30:70 ratios for carving out your path to success. Because at the end of the day, what you are is only determined by what you do with what you have.
To put it simply, becoming successful is like finding a treasure trove. Each treasure hunter usually sets pre-defined goals, and creates a map of their own to the destination, during their journey. For each, the formula of success may differ based on their experiences, which means that for you, the idea of talent or hard-work could be completely different or even more complex. I would love to know more about your thoughts and experiences.