Thursday December 14th 2017





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Talent That Works

Black beltsI heard something that was pretty profound last night as I was watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC 107 event on television.  I am a fan of martial arts, and have grown fond of watching these MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) events.  It seems a little violent to some I know, and I also understand that it’s not for everyone.  But to me, I truly enjoy watching the skill set of these athletes, as all of the world’s fighting arts are put on full display.  It’s a clash of cultures and styles, with opponents using everything from Greco-Roman wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Karate or even Boxing.

However, being a fan of martial arts or MMA is not necessary for you to still get the great and applicable message from what I heard last night.

One of the announcers who was calling the contests for the T.V. viewers was talking about a match up between a guy who is a naturally gifted fighter, and another who has had to work extremely hard to hone his craft.  To set this up – the fighter with the natural ability had a reputation early in his career for not training as hard as some of his opponents, relying instead on the skill set that God has given him. It has served him well, because he is so talented, but he has also lost a couple of fights he might have won, had he trained harder.

The guy that he was matched up against is one of those individuals who, despite not having all of the natural ability of some, made a commitment to become the best, and has worked extremely hard in order to achieve that.  Because he has adapted this work ethic, he has been able to defeat almost all of the opponents he faced, regardless of their skill level (he had won 22 of 25 matches going in to the bout last night).

So here’s the rub – the fighter with the natural talent (appropriately nicknamed “The Prodigy”) has, at this point in his career, begun training as hard or harder than anyone else in the sport.  Working tirelessly to improve upon those things that he is already exceptional at.  Not coincidentally, it has made him a world champion in two weight classes.   He entered the arena last night to defend his world lightweight championship title.

martial artsAs the contest began to unfold, it became clear that the fighter with the natural ability was in complete control, in fact he was absolutely dominant.  It didn’t even seem fair.  Leading to the profound statement of the announcer, as he observed the triumph taking place…

He said, “hard work will beat talent until talent learns to work hard”.

My first thought when I heard that statement was, “wow, that sounded pretty good”.  Then I actually engaged my brain and started thinking about the message.  Not only does it sound pretty good, it is absolutely true.  In sports and in life.  Talent working hard…what a concept!

The idea that you don’t have to work quite as hard at something if you are already good at it, to me, is a loser’s mentality.  Is it lazy, and ultimately, it results in your gifts not being used in the way that they should.  It is settling for something other than your best.  And I think that if you’re willing to settle for that, you will end up disappointed, regretful and probably bitter.  And that may not even be the worst of it.

Missing out on the blessing of fulfillment is certainly a big one, like I said, bitterness awaits at the end of that path.  But missing out on giving your talent to the world is the other part of the equation and the one that might leave you even more empty.  We all talk about how it is more blessed to give than to receive, especially at this time of year, so consider that concept as it pertains here.  If you settle for anything other than giving your absolute best to others, then it’s like giving the whole world a bunch of empty boxes for Christmas…

My guess is that the world would collectively say to you, “Thanks…for nothing!”

There is something that each of us do very well (maybe more than one thing).  And we are all unique as individuals.  So, in a very real sense, we could say there is something each of us can do that no one else in the world can do.  At least not the way that we can do it.  Does that make sense?  In other words, we are all gifted naturally in some way.

If you have never taken the time to consider what your gift or talent is, I would encourage you to invest the effort, and figure it out.  Inspiration, accomplishment, satisfaction and true joy await you!

Chances are, you have a pretty good idea of what your natural talent is.  If not – I’ll help you get started.  Your gift is the thing that you do, where when you’re finished doing it, you feel better than you do at any other time.  If you are a gifted speaker, it is that feeling you have after you have delivered a speech to your audience.  If you are a writer, it is when you have finished that article or book and you just sit back and think, “yes”.  Maybe your gift is to be an outstanding mother, and your ability to raise your children and be an example to others is unmatched.  Or maybe you are a natural leader.  If you are a leader – get some followers!  Perhaps your gift is in the area of design or decoration, I’m telling you it can be anything.  And I’ll also tell you that only you can do it the way that you do it.  Yes, in the most unselfish sense…it’s all about YOU!

There are others out there who want to do those things that come so easily to you…and they want it so badly that they will work as hard as they possible in order to attain it.  They will sacrifice themselves (and I would say their own real gift), in order to become that person that YOU are suppose to be.  And…they will do it.  They will take your place, they will out work you and they will accomplish it.  They will trump your talent.  Unless you decide to work hard on yourself.

Now, here’s the really amazing part about working hard on your talent.  And this message also came through loud and clear as I was watching the UFC last night.

AchievementWhen you understand your gifts and your talents, and you decide that you are going to pursue them and work to become even better than you already are – it becomes almost effortless to do so.  Since you will be operating in a world of inspiration and because you are tuned in to that thing which you are most passionate about, the work is actually fun.  The work, in some ways is more fulfilling than the finished product.

That champion fighter that I was telling you about from last night, who has all of the natural ability in the world, and who has now decided to out-work everyone as well, talked a little about his outlook before the fight.  Listen to this…

He said that in the beginning of his career, he was pursuing the trophy, the belt, the title, the wins.  And now, at this point, he is just going out there and having fun.  Did you hear that? He is working harder than he has ever worked in his entire career, yet now, for the first time, he is having fun.  And might I add, destroying his opponents in the process.  He is a definitive and shining example of how the principle of working hard on your natural talent manifests itself in the end.

He is a world champion, who has successfully defended his title, and in the midst of hand-to-hand combat, he is having fun.  It is the formula for ultimate success, played out in the field of mixed martial arts; Recognize your natural talent, pursue that talent with passion and purpose, and enjoy the ride!

Yes, hard work can beat talent, but only until talent decides to work hard.

Reader Feedback

4 Responses to “Talent That Works”

  1. Hi Mike,
    I found you through Connie’s blog challenge.

    I’m really impressed by your blog!

    It looks so professional and beautiful!


    Greetings from Denmark,
    Claus 😀

  2. I LOVE this! I was also inspired by that very statement. I love UFC and the heart of the fighters as well and I was so moved when those words were said. It really made me want to push my lazy butt in gear and I think it’s a great realization for all of us. Thanks so much for writing on this topic! Great article!

  3. avatar Mike Shippey says:

    Claus – thanks for the props. Great to hear from you. Yes, the Blogging Challenge is a hoot! Thank you for the kind words.

  4. avatar Mike Shippey says:

    Courtney – That is so cool. It was a very powerful and inspiring statement. We all need to get “it” in gear and get about pursuing our passion!
    Thanks for reading…

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