graceful ballerina dancing in house with shadow on floor

Talent Is An Escalator & Not An Elevator

Recently, life hit me like a ̶t̶o̶n̶-̶o̶f̶-̶b̶r̶i̶c̶k̶s̶ tennis ball.

I was Netflixing my problems away when I stumbled upon a tennis docuseries called Break Point. Now I know what you’re thinking. Tennis on Netflix? Yuck! But hear me out…

This one scene changed my life.

It was where tennis prodigy Stefanos Tsitsipas was being interviewed about his work ethic and let out 14 words that changed everything.

It doesn’t matter if you’re talented; you still need to put in the work.

And this rocked me harder than a spiked volleyball to the face in a middle school gym class.

Because, as it turns out, talent isn’t the elevator ride to Easy Street like we all think it is. Talent is more like an escalator; you still have to climb.

The Illusion of Talent

We all have a love affair with talent like it’s some kind of superpower held by the lucky few. And we tend to think that it’s these super-talented people can simply wave a magic wand and get the end result without putting in the work like us mere mortals. But the truth about talent isn’t very magical at all. The reality is talent is more like a coupon. It might give you a discount, but you still have to pay the bulk of the price. And the bulk of the price is paid with hard work.

Do You Know J Lo’s True Talent?

Let’s take Jennifer Lopez, for example. Today we all know her as this superstar with an incredible talent in singing and acting, but what most people don’t realize is that her true talent lies in something different. It’s her world-class work ethic.

She’s not someone born with a golden voice like Adele or a has a natural musical genius like Beethoven. In fact, she’s not even close to the top of the genius-level talent scale. But what sets her apart is her relentless dedication and hard work.

J Lo started as a background dancer, taking on lesser-known gigs and slowly worked her way up, one opportunity at a time. Brick by brick, she built her career from being “just Jenny from the block” to becoming a global icon.

J Lo has talent, but hard work made her who she is.

You Get Kobe Bryant When Hard Work Meets Talent

So what do you get when you have elite natural talent mixed with an elite work ethic? You get the late, great Kobe Bryant. The man was born with more athletic talent than Nike and was a human pogo stick whose NBA highlight reel rivals an Oscar-winning movie.

Yet, what really set him apart was not his incredible natural gifts but his unyielding, tireless, and, let’s be honest, obsessive work ethic. It was his superhuman grind combined with his natural gifts that made him more than just another tall, athletic guy — it made him Kobe Bryant.

In fact, his work ethic was so famous it caused division among his teammates, most notably Shaq. Because he worked so hard, and realized the unique blessing he was given, he couldn’t stand people who refused to maximize their potential. And as the story goes, his work ethic plus natural talent not only won him five rings but earned him the respect as an all-time great and basketball legend. That’s Kobe Bryant for yah. 

Follow Your Energy

So, what’s the takeaway from all of this? Where should you go from here? Well, if you’re lucky enough to possess talent (and trust me, you do), it’s essential to understand that talent alone can only take you so far. To truly succeed, you must be willing to put in the effort and work hard until you reach your goals.

That’s why I believe it’s crucial to choose a career or path that genuinely excites you, so you can tap into your natural energy. When you engage in work that makes you come alive and puts an extra pep in your step, it won’t feel like a chore; it’ll feel more like play. And when work feels like play, you’ll find yourself dedicating more time and effort to it. So look for the activities that make you feel energized and coming back for more.

Fall head over heels in love with the pursuit of greatness, and with every step you take towards your dreams, you’ll be crafting a love story that the world will one day read. So, go out there, chase your dreams, and let your energy guide you to extraordinary heights.

Please like, comment, share and tell me what you think. DId you find this as eye opening as I did, or am I an idiot. Let me know in the comments. If you found this helpful, why not share with a friend?

43 thoughts on “Talent Is An Escalator & Not An Elevator

  1. Musing on the combination of talent, energy, hard work and commitment. Put those all together and they are a fair description of the highest performers in the arts, in athletics, and most professions that require skills beyond what the majority of people have or acquire. That said, there are many who go quietly about their craft at the highest level delivering exceptional “performances” in science, medicine, education, engineering, agriculture, piloting, and believe it or not, customer service.

    1. I do believe it! I actually want more stories about those unsung heroes. I know growing up I always found it frustrating when people would talk about professional athlete’s work ethic, because if my job was to workout and play a game, I would do it with a smile. But now I try to bring that mentality to writing. I gotta control what I can control. As usual, thanks for reading and the discussion!

  2. Great post! Success is interesting. It also includes, “LUCK.” Yes, we create our own luck, the saying being, “Luck is when Opportunity meets Preparation,” but there is also luck that just “happens.” I look at it as fate or destiny, stars align in our favor, direct us on our path. Like going along our day and we find a $20 on the ground, no one around, just some LUCK coming our way.

  3. Agree with you, “ideally,” choose what you love to do. Easier said than done when we have to support ourselves. I find that passion is a driving factor in people who are successful. Their passion drives them to not give up. To be honest, I’ve never heard the words, “they are so talented,” unless someone is a real genius. Anyone can be successful, ie graduating High School, making the soccer team, publishing a book, writing a Blog for eight years (LOL), running the Marathon, etc. To me, each milestone we drive toward is a success. Success is constant, it never ends. We’re constantly building toward new goals, new ideas of success, ie your J.Lo example. She’s constantly working toward something new!

    1. Yes ideally – it’s hard because sometimes you life gets in the way – and yep that’s the right attitude, success is constant and looks different for everyone – thanks for reading

  4. Your article reminds me of Fred—an ordinary guy with an extraordinary heart. He served up coffee at a cafe, but his customer service was beyond belief and he will live in my memory as how I want to be when I grow up. We may not be J Lo or Kobe, but we can be just as outstanding in whatever we choose to do. The world needs more Fred’s.

  5. Lots and lots of truth in here, sir. I sometimes fear the new up and comers are losing sight of the necessity to work hard to achieve success. Any success let alone JLo level success.

  6. Yes luck definitely plays a part in one’s success. For example, someone works hard their entire life just for a lucky moment. And when they succeed everyone calls lucky but they dont see all the hard work they did just for a moment of luck that outshines all the blood, sweat and tears.

  7. Very much enjoyed this. I am definitely talented, but often lack motivation. (That’s a sad story called childhood trauma, but I’ll spare the details.) So posts like this are definitely a strong and helpful reminder. Today is the day! Patti Smith often talks about being a hard worker, which she is, and is also inspiring.

    1. It’s all good -motivation comes and goes, I’m the same way. It helped me to just form a habit and while it can suck at first, as most new things do, I learned to like it. You got this, thank you for reading

  8. I have been enjoying your posts all day. This one I HAD to share. Gave you a reblog over at my joint.
    You have amazing BlogFu, Tony!

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