Success v. Talent: How More is More

Brian Johnson
Jan 29, 2019 · 4 min read

Nothing in this world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. — Brian Tracy


That quote really knocked it outta the park for me.

The main point of this quote really got me to thinking about the words success and talent and how/if they relate to one another. But first, just what is success?

Well, it means so many different things to so many different people that it’s often difficult to define, which could be what makes it so seemingly difficult to achieve.

However, regardless of any generally accepted definition of success (not that there is one), I remain convinced that success isn’t about how much money I make or the square footage of my house or even the type of car that I drive, even though I could check the box on each of those and by any measure be considered successful.

The bigger picture regarding success is that our modern culture and so much of our society is currently driven by the stockpiling of material things that it’s easy to make the connection between success and things and for many years that’s the way I viewed success; the number of zeros on my paycheck.

But eventually, I came to a different understanding of success. Today, success means that I’m able to fill my days doing the things I love the most with the people I love the most. Not a new concept by any means, but notice how this philosophy broadens the gates leading into the realm of success without diminishing any other metric of success.

But here’s the problem. For those of us who view success in these terms, it becomes pretty easy to notice if we fill our days doing things we hate with people we don’t like, all the while missing out on time with the people we love only to one day, years from now, being able to retire and finally do what we love with the people we love. Geesh… It’s the ultimate pebble in your shoe. Pretty painful.

I know because I made that deal with life so many times. The deal where I would sacrifice enjoying life today, only to enjoy it at some point in the undetermined future. Or worse yet, I’d sacrifice enjoying life today only to fill in the holes of boredom and frustration with shiny new things. Still waiting for that one day when it would all be worth it and I’d cash in my chips for happiness and fulfillment.

But so often that day never comes, and, in these unfortunate cases, we totally miss out on the whole point of life. Is this model of success truly worth the risk? Or do the ends justify the means?

Each person has to determine that on their own but as for me, at a certain point, I had to change. I had to discover a better way to bring meaning and purpose to my life while contributing value to the world and I had to stop telling myself that success was an equation consisting of things and sacrifices.

Ultimately, I came to believe that we all have God-given (Universe, nature, cosmos, energy, etc…) talents that make us truly unique and special. I like to think of these talents as superpowers. Superpowers, in the sense that they are gifts or natural abilities or maybe even special qualities that define our uniqueness and value. They are also, more than likely things we were born with or have acquired with little effort on our part.

Sometimes these superpowers will mask themselves as weaknesses or so-called handicaps which can make them difficult to discover, and other times, they may be outrageously obvious. But ultimately, the point of our lives is to discover our superpowers, hone them, own them, and eventually use them in a way that brings value to the world and to the lives of other people.

When we can tap into those talents, without fear of what other people will think or the fear of failure, we can be truly exceptional. And guess what?! Truly exceptional people are extremely valuable because they bring real value to other people’s lives. As a result, they tend to earn more and likewise have more time to spend their lives doing what they love to do with the people they love.

Now that’s a life well lived! A life where I’m self-enabled to explore my greatness to the benefit of others. A life where the more I explore my talents the more happiness I experience. A life where happiness today is not enjoyed at the expense of tomorrow. A life where more really does equal more.

This is why most days I try to start my morning by focusing on my true talents and asking for the courage to be myself in a world that wants me to believe that being less than who I truly am or collecting more things than my neighbors will bring me success and happiness.

Once we own our truth, we own our lives. Once we own our talents we own our success.

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