Why Success Requires Much More Than Natural Talent

When you go on the internet or turn on the television to witness high-achievers changing the world, earning millions or billions, breaking world-records, or winning Nobel prizes, it’s easy to assume that super-success is reserved for the super-talented.

But when you take a moment to dig deeper and investigate the story behind the award-winner standing on the podium, there is almost always a backstory of countless hours and years of hard work and perseverance through struggle, pain, failure, defeat, and heartache.

Because Success Involves Much More Than Natural-Born Talent. Greatness is earned through a philosophy of Never-Ending Work Ethic and Perseverance Through Pain.

If you stick to these principles, you too can be just as successful as the greats.

Never-Ending Work Ethic

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers was a huge hit because it enlightened the world with a powerful universal truth about high achievement: it takes ten thousand hours to reach super-success.

So often, we tend to put our world’s highest achievers up on a pedestal. When we congratulate our stars on their success, we often praise them with adjectives like talented, amazing, extraordinary, blessed, or born-for-stardom.

But contrary to that popular belief, Gladwell makes a convincing case that greatness is earned—not born. Rather than being born blessed with incredible talent, the key to super-success is hours and hours and years and years of all-consuming work.

Ten Thousand Hours. Outliers explains that many researchers have come to the conclusion that it takes about ten thousand hours—roughly ten years—to accomplish a world-class level of success, mastery, and achievement.

To demonstrate that point, Gladwell explains that many of the world’s greatest achievers—Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, The Beatles, and Mozart—each worked through their own their own ten-thousand-hour-quota of hard work before they became successful.

It’s a principle that you can apply to any self-made success story. No one ever accomplishes greatness without working hard for it.

Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how much God-given natural talent you enter the world with. We all have put in a ten-thousand-hour-minimum of hard work to succeed.

Perseverance Through Pain

No one accomplishes greatness without working hard for it. By the same token, no one succeeds without persevering through pain.

Steve Jobs was fired from his own company before he created many of the innovations that we all remember him for.

J.K. Rowling struggled through single-parenthood, poverty, and unemployment before she published her first entry in the record-breaking Harry Potter series.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team before he went on to lead the Chicago Bulls to six championships.

Nelson Mandela suffered through twenty-seven years in jail before going on to emancipate South Africa from Apartheid and take his place as the nation’s first black president.

The list goes on. The road to success is almost always filled with struggle, tragedy, doubt, heartbreak, and failure. Because no one ever succeeds on a high level without pushing through pain—sacrifices, setbacks, challenges, failures, defeats, and heartaches.

When the super-successful show up to college graduation ceremonies to deliver uplifting speeches, none of them ever tell the graduates that they climbed to success through nothing but natural born-talent. Quite the opposite. Moving graduation speeches are often about stories of overcoming pain, struggle, suffering, and failure to find success on the other side.

In his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, Steve Jobs revealed that being publicly fired from Apple “was the best thing that could have ever happened” because his failure gave him the freedom to polish his creativity, fall in love with his wife, and return to Apple rejuvenated to re-take his place as the company’s leader.

In 2008, J.K. Rowling dedicated half of her own graduation speech to teaching the graduates about “the benefits of failure.” She explained that the pain of struggling through poverty, unemployment, and single parenthood all at once gave her the push, the determination, conviction, and freedom she needed to write Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone.

Even though our society tends to praise these high achievers as super-talented or born for greatness, their Success Involves Much More Than Natural Talent.

Big accomplishments require big work ethic, diligence, and dedication—ten thousand hours of all-consuming work. And huge success requires huge perseverance through the pain, darkness, struggle, failure, and heartbreak you may undergo in the process of becoming great.

So don’t ever let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that super-success is reserved for the super-talented. Keep in mind that greatness is earned—not born.

Always be the hardest worker in any room.

Always keep your determination and perseverance when your plans fall apart.

And you will win.


Bo Muchoki is an up-and-coming self-help writer. He is a 2011 graduate from The University of Maryland, self-development blogger, motivational speaker, and first-time author of a forthcoming book.
To learn more about Bo Muchoki and read more of his motivational writing, please check out his blog at http://www.MuchokiMotivation.com


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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