Talent is overrated, mental strength is critical

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Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a good athlete? Or a good leader? Or a good parent? Why do some people accomplish their goals while others fail?

What makes the difference?

Usually we answer these questions by talking about the talent of top performers. He must be the smartest scientist in the lab. She’s faster than everyone else on the team. He is a brilliant business strategist.

But I think we all know there is more to the story than that.

In fact, when you start looking into it, your talent and your intelligence don’t play nearly as big…


How much time do you spend consuming information that you have no intention of taking action on or that you don’t care deeply about?

For example: the nightly news cycle of local crimes, the endless stream of Facebook and Twitter updates, celebrity gossip, reality TV shows, Buzzfeed articles. The list goes on.

In this age of information overload, your life can be filled with irrelevant or unnecessary information in an instant.

And here’s the main problem:

After a while, these information sources start to become normal. Pretty soon, you’re logging onto Facebook because of the fear of missing out on…


Many people, myself included, have multiple areas of life they would like to improve. For example, I would like to reach more people with my writing, to lift heavier weights at the gym, and to start practicing mindfulness more consistently. Those are just a few of the goals I find desirable and you probably have a long list yourself.

The problem is, even if we are committed to working hard on our goals, our natural tendency is to revert back to our old habits at some point. Making a permanent lifestyle change is really difficult.

Recently, I’ve come across a…


In 1666, one of the most influential scientists in history was strolling through a garden when he was struck with a flash of creative brilliance that would change the world.

While standing under the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” Newton wondered. “Why should it not go sideways, or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s center? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter.” [1]

And thus, the concept of gravity was…


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Human behaviors are often tied to one another.

For example, consider the case of a woman named Jennifer Dukes Lee. For two and a half decades during her adult life, starting when she left for college and extending into her 40s, Lee never made her bed except for when her mother or guests dropped by the house.

At some point, she decided to give it another try and managed to make her bed four days in a row — a seemingly trivial feat. However, on the morning of that fourth day, when she finished making the bed, she also picked…


Sun Tzu was a legendary military strategist in ancient China and he is the author of the famous book, The Art of War. He was a master of “soft power” and the father of “agile warfare.” Whenever possible, he preferred to win without fighting or, at the very least, to win the easiest battles first. [1]

He wrote, “In war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won.” He advised his troops to “make your way by unexpected routes and attack unguarded spots.” And he further stated, “Military tactics are like water. For water, in its…


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Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Nearly all great ideas follow a similar creative process and this article explains how this process works. Understanding this is important because creative thinking is one of the most useful skills you can possess. Nearly every problem you face in work and in life can benefit from creative solutions, lateral thinking, and innovative ideas.

Anyone can learn to be creative by using these five steps. That’s not to say being creative is easy. Uncovering your creative genius requires courage and tons of practice. …


It was 1977 and, although nobody knew it at the time, psychologist Ellen Langer and her research team at Harvard University were about to conduct a study that would change our understanding of human behavior.

It all started when Langer asked her research assistants to cut in front of innocent people waiting in line at the photocopiers in the library.

The Copy Machine Study

This is how the research study worked…

A researcher would spot someone waiting at the library copy machine and walk over with the intention of cutting the person in line. …


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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

In 2010, Thomas Thwaites decided he wanted to build a toaster from scratch. He walked into a shop, purchased the cheapest toaster he could find, and promptly went home and broke it down piece by piece.

Thwaites had assumed the toaster would be a relatively simple machine. By the time he was finished deconstructing it, however, there were more than 400 components laid out on his floor. The toaster contained over 100 different materials with three of the primary ones being plastic, nickel, and steel.

He decided to create the steel components first. After discovering that iron ore was required…


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Verne Ho on Unsplash

There is a common mistake that often happens to smart people — in many cases, without you ever realizing it.

The mistake has to do with the difference between being in motion and taking action. They sound similar, but they’re not the same.

Here’s the deal…

Motion vs. Action

Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.

Here are some examples…

  • If I outline 20 ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. …

James Clear

I’m the author of Atomic Habits: atomichabits.com. I write about habits, decision making, and continuous improvement.

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