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Talent Is Never Enough

A couple of years ago I heard John Maxwell, author of Talent Is Never Enough, expand on that thought at a conference. While I never read the book, his words still ring in my ears today.

Consider these facts:

  • More than 50% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had C or C- averages in college
  • 65% percent of U.S. senators came from the bottom half of their school classes
  • 75% of U.S. presidents were in the Lower-Half Club in school
  • More than 50% of millionaire entrepreneurs never finished college

Is talent not important, then? Sure it is. The problem is that many rely on their natural, God-given talent and forget to work on who they are, or what it takes to succeed.

“Talent is a given,” says Maxwell, “but you must earn success.” Maxwell adds that successful people maximize their talent by mastering a list of habits and attitudes that do not require talent, including:

  • Passion
  • Practice
  • Perseverance
  • Teachability
  • Character
  • Relationship
  • Unselfishness
  • Punctuality

What happens, then, when a highly talented person neglects these things? They underperform. “Their talent gives them opportunity,” says Maxwell, “but their wrong choices shut the door.” (Think Tonya Harding, Mike Tyson and Britney Spears.)

Conversely, he says, people who combine their talent with the right choices come as close as humanly possible to achieving their potential and frequently overperform. “Their talent gives them opportunity,” he concludes, “and their right choices open the door for even greater success.”


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