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Ordinary Talent and Extraordinary Perseverance

"Talent”. What is it?

Gifted? Skillful? Accomplished? 

The Oxford dictionary describes it as “an ability that someone is born with”

But where does that leaves the rest of us?

The good news is that talent is a skill that can be honed. 

Today’s story is about Joshua, a 12 years old boy, who discovers that piano has become his passion.

As he woke each morning, he couldn’t help but let his fingers run along the baby grand piano that filled the room.

The black and white keys moved so fast it was hard to tell whether he was touching them or not. No matter the time of the day, the thrill was heard, the dynamic was present; as the rest of the room listened, intently focused on the young master impressive precision chosen piece.

Joshua’s photographic memory enabled him to choose pieces of music and play them within a few minutes of looking at them. His dramatic flair was unique. His delicacy of touch was irresistible. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz and mastered his craft like a king.

As the years went by, Josh’s innate musical talent became more carefree and despite his natural ability he often had trouble reading sheet music and found it difficult to play unfamiliar tunes. Little by little he became reluctant to spend extra time learning his exams pieces and would rather play the latest

most popular albums. Soon Joshua’s dream of becoming a worldwide pianist became artificial.

In the meantime, his younger sister Clara: tall, with a slender figure, and long narrow feet had the perfect body to become a Gymnast.

She loved gymnastics and worked for hours on end at every opportunity she had. Clara never stopped believing in herself and that always put her in first place everywhere she went and in everything she did.

Over the years, the grander the dream, the more competitions there was but Clara remained focused, pushing herself through to the end. As she entered her last month before her final level examinations, Clara experienced a bad fall leaving her with an injury. She suffered immensely and became pale each time she took a step, her biggest dream seemed to be over. However, Clara refused to give up. With enormous efforts, she got back up and continued to practise days and night even though she was told she would never pass. Clara was adamant she could succeed. She kept practising for long hours, rehearsing when she had a cold, continued training long after others had finished classes. Her swollen ankles, battered feet, and bruised toes were no obstacles for her. Clara had become unstoppable.

After a full month of strive and endurance, Clara’s performance was exceptional. Not only did she complete and pass her final level; she surpassed her brother in many ways and is now representing GB at the Olympics.

Clara had become unbreakable.

So who is more talented? Joshua who was born with a musical gift or Clara who became talented by working so hard to become an athlete? Either way, both children were talented in their own way but it is through hard work, determination, and resilience that talent can also be achieved and not just by nature.

Having worked in the International Corporate Sector over the past 20 years in different industries, I have learned that being talented in specific disciplines certainly helps. However, how can you stay on top of your game?

After a while, if you are not careful you are being taken for granted and before you know it you find yourself at the other end of the scale.

It is crucial to remind all organizations and leadership team these three simple steps:

Motivate and inspire your employee

Encourage your employees, call them by their first name and give them a pat on the back every now and then. Notice their efforts and show them you care.  Create a trusted working relationship.  By doing so, your employee will feel like an asset and will want to bring out their hidden potential and in no time will reveal their talent.

Empower your employee

Provide opportunities for your employees to grow and learn.  Show them there is room for promotion. Always challenge them with different projects, that will engage them and enable them to tap into their passion and learn more about themselves and the company they work for.

Give constructive feedbacks

Provide frequent constructive feedback so your employee knows how he/she is performing and what’s expected of them. This supports their learning and development and helps them to push further each time. 

I like to use what we call the “sandwich technique”, start by telling them how well they have handled a project, a presentation or a situation, the middle part is your sandwich filling, this is where you focus on what the issue is (not the individual), be very specific of what is missing and how it could be improved. In the last part, give a summary of what you went over in the first and second part.

I can never insist enough, praise, and be as sincere as you possibly can. 


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