We all have the natural tendency to hear a success story and blame it on ‘luck’. We also have the tendency to be jealous of others’ natural talents, especially when their talent exceeds our own. But when did you last take stock of those people you truly admire, who are successful in the long term, and compare their talent to their tenacity?
I submit that tenacity is worth many times what talent is worth!
An example from my young manhood in the gymnastics arena:
I remember one young man, a little younger than myself, who had natural talent coming out of his ears so to speak. He caught on quickly to the techniques, he was very comfortable flipping his body around, and had a lot of fun. His acceleration through the basic skills was one of the quickest I’ve seen in my experience. I was jealous! I wanted to have as much fun as he was having, and I wanted the EASE with which he apparently acquired new skills…But to make a long story short, this very ease was his weakness. For when his natural talent ran out, and he hit the point at which he would actually have to work and stretch and grow tougher to continue to improve… he wasn’t tough enough. He wasn’t used to the struggle. He wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared to push through the struggle most of the rest of us students were quite used to trudging through. He ended up quitting at a medium level, while myself and others who slowly but surely struggled through the developmental necessities continued on to excel in elite levels of competition.
The lesson: tenacity outweighs talent, every time.
Bob Proctor in his powerful book You Were Born Rich says the following about talent:
"You may have grown up with the idea that some people have it and some people don’t. Or, because some people are much better than others, they enjoy much more of the abundance of life. But I want you to understand, right here and now, this idea is absolutely false! For you are every bit as good, or as powerful, as anyone you see, know, or even hear about.
"Remember, since the difference between them and you is only in the area of accomplishments, and since there is something you can do that will vastly improve the results you are achieving presently, you have the potential to become even more successful than they are.
"You may already know how to do what others are doing (if you don’t, you can learn), and since your potential power is unlimited, you can do even greater things than they are now doing."
Bob goes on to share an experience reminiscent of my own, about decathlete Milton Campbell, the 1952 Olympic silver medalist, and due to his extraordinary tenacity, the 1956 Olympic gold medalist. Milt’s ambition was always to bring home the Olympic gold medal. After winning the silver medal in 1952 Milt dedicated himself for 4 years to his strict training regimen once more, tenaciously focused on the gold! He accomplished his vision and brought home the Olympic gold medal in 1956.
"In the aftermath of that spectacular achievement, I had the pleasure of speaking with Milt on numerous occasions. He often confided to me that many of the athletes against whom he competed in high school were far superior to him at that time. But at some point, they had made the decision to abandon a sports career and the difference for Milt was that he kept training. The result—the day they pinned the gold medal on Milt, he was recognized as the best athlete in the entire world!"
Don’t get me wrong – talent is a very valuable thing! We would all appreciate more of it. But talent alone is not, and will never be, enough for success (in business, family, character) in the long term. Talent alone can lead to entitlement, fragility, and quick-fixes.
But when it is synergized with tenacity – watch out! Records will be set. Lives will be changed.
The clear applications to selling are:
#1 Do not waste your emotional energy on jealousy of others you perceive as more “talented.” They will either give up when the going gets tough, or they have paid the price and synergized their talent with tenacity, in which case they deserve the success they create.
#2 Take stock of your talents, whatever they may be, and use them to your advantage. You don’t need to be excellent at every aspect of your career – but a true powerful development of a few key elements will bring excellence and satisfaction.
#3 Stemming from #2, determine which talents or skills you desire to have, those which you feel would make the biggest difference in getting you from where you are NOW to where you want to BE. Stubbornly resolve to either develop those talents (or even make up for them) through sheer tenacity!
When the going gets tough – rejoice! Because you now know, if you are tougher, hold onto your principles longer and harder, you will come out on top. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison
Again from Bob Proctor, on persistence, a tenacity synonym:
"Napoleon Hill devoted an entire chapter in Think and Grow Rich to persistence. In that chapter he said, “There may be no heroic connotation to the word persistence, but the character is to the quality of man what carbon is to steel.” Hill also pointed out in another part of the same chapter, that the only thing which separated Thomas Edison or Henry Ford from the rest of the people in the world was persistence. For both of these great men had an image and they would not let anyone or anything dissuade them—they were persistent. One illuminated the world, the other put the world on wheels. Both were, of course, richly rewarded."
Prove all things; HOLD FAST that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Be tenacious!