What talent or skills are worth developing

Career & Salary

Have you ever set out to run a marathon or give a talk at TED? But the next thought was: "What nonsense, I'm not talented enough for that"- and your project was shelved. Perhaps that is why you did not express your really grandiose idea of ​​digitizing a business area and you did not apply for a new position in the group because you do not believe in your talent. Then I have good news for you: Your lack of talent could be the cornerstone of your long-term success.

Superstars - despite average talent

Basketball player Michael Jordan is one of the most highly decorated and celebrated sports stars of all time. It would take hours to enumerate his achievements and accolades. He has been described as one of the most talented athletes in the world during his playing days, with Jordan claiming to be constantly focused on ironing out his weaknesses. "I.I missed the basket more than 9000 times, I lost almost 300 games, I was supposed to make the last throw required to win 26 times and missed it. I've made mistakes, over mistakes, over mistakes. And that's why I'm successful."

Nobody says that who takes their talent for granted. To say that, you have to know that talent is worthless if you don't keep working on your skills. Hollywood superstar Will Smith sees it similarly: "I never thought of myself as particularly talented. Others are more talented than me. But when they sleep, I work. When they eat, I work. When I take a break, I work."When two successful people talk about talent like that, it should get us mere mortals thinking. What could that mean for our ambitions, talents, dreams and goals?

Does talent even matter?

Let's take another look at Michael Jordan: He wasn't one of those model athletes when he was in school! At 15, he was a skinny guy who even got kicked off his school's basketball team. Yes, the great Michael Jordan was seen as not talented enough for the team. What a setback!

Many people would have buried their sports ambitions with it. Not so Jordan. This experience and his dream of professional basketball made him a real workhorse. The German Dirk Nowitzki is the same. After a lost game, he goes to a training hall and practices his throws. Two, three or four hours long, which is impressively documented in the film "The Perfect Throw". And after winning a game in which he was not satisfied with himself, he does the same. While his teammates celebrate. Crazy and obsessed? Maybe. Successful? In any case.

When Jordan was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he mentioned being kicked out of the school team as an important driver to keep working on yourself. I ask myself: what would have happened if he had made it into the school team without any problems? What if he had been a mega talent and hadn't learned to work so hard? Then, I'm sure, we wouldn't know him for the all-out superstar that he is today.

  1. 7. Willingness to learn and develop
    Learning from experience; accept challenging situations and take advantage of the opportunities that lie in them; Obtaining and processing feedback about one's own impact, acting in a future-oriented manner; Develop a pioneering spirit; Promoting talent and developing employees through tolerance for mistakes; Support in the event of difficulties (coaching), but consistency in the event of a lack of commitment.
  2. 6. Emotional stability:
    Trust in one's own abilities; stay calm and reliable in stressful situations; understand and respond to own and other people's feelings; be able to deal with disappointments and remain able to act; show appropriate conflict resolution behavior.
  3. 5. Successful relationship management:
    A convincing demeanor and open approach to others; the ability to shape relationships in a cooperative manner and to develop beneficial interfaces; the ability to network and deal with heterogeneous interests; the ability to move effectively within the social structure of the organization.
  4. 4. Ability to make sense and induce behavior:
    Make sense and generate understanding; communicate credibly and authentically; Mobilize motivation; appear encouraging to others; Feeling for the effective forces in the organizational structure and recognizing the decisive leverage forces; Create clear responsibilities and transparent task structures in order to make others successful.
  5. 3. Entrepreneurship:
    Develop and advance business; Will to succeed; Sensitivity to market signals and early recognition of business opportunities; Consistently thinking through and controlling products, processes and behaviors from the customer's point of view; the ability and courage, if necessary, to break new ground.
  6. 2. Self-orientation:
    Be aware of yourself; assert oneself in the environment; Take a stand even on sensitive issues; self-confident handling of the new and the unknown; a broad, flexible repertoire of action for differentiated situations; a clearly developed personal awareness of values.
  7. 1. Personal responsibility:
    Set challenging goals for yourself; Implement corporate goals sustainably; Develop creative spaces; Identify priorities; Communicate intentions consistently and clearly, generate solutions and put them into action; Create realities.
  8. Executives who are successful leaders ...
    ... have seven characteristics that are articulated in their behavior.

Why talent can be the worst enemy

Imagine if you were incredibly talented. Because of your talent, success comes naturally in the beginning. You can easily outdo your colleagues. You feel great, you are the hero or the heroine. That feels great.

So it goes on in your life and time and time again you achieve your best performance without great effort. Your coworkers despair and are content to somehow get through without ever being able to get to you. After all, these don't see yourself as being as talented as you are. So they submit to their (self-chosen) fate.

Only a few incorrigible struggles to get better. On the one hand, they want to be better than you, But above all, they want to be better than they were yesterday. "Those poor worms," ​​think of you as a super talent. "What a pointless undertaking - they can never compete with my talent. I don't know defeats and setbacks. And that's right."It goes through your head as you watch their small successes and numerous failures.

Resilience and the importance of setbacks

But these poor worms are learning something crucial to long-term success: they are learning to deal with setbacks. They learn to analyze their mistakes. They learn how to strengthen strengths and stamp out weaknesses in order to make up for the lack of talent.

Resilience, the ability to deal with setbacks and learn from them, is seen as an increasingly important leadership skill. The world is changing so quickly, has become so complex and so incalculable that we will increasingly have to deal with setbacks. Yesterday's recipe for success is suddenly ineffective.

Those who are blessed with great talent are actually cursed. Because if he is not taught that talent is worthless if you do not associate it with a high work ethic and continuous work on yourself, he will never learn to deal with setbacks. And sooner or later fail. This is already fatal if we only look at this person and the effects on them. However, it becomes a massive risk when this person holds significant leadership roles.

A smart horse only jumps as high as it has to

"A smart horse only jumps as high as it has to"is an old saying. A nice saying that is often used as an excuse not to really exert yourself. The core message could also be: A clever horse is constantly working on its jumping abilities and uses its abilities in the right measure. Because if if it doesn't work, it won't be able to jump high enough one day. The hurdles that we will have to overcome in the business world of tomorrow cannot be seen today. But we can be sure that they are higher than today - and they will appear before us so suddenly that we no longer have time to train for them.

Jordan, Nowitzki, Smith and Co. prove to us that the saying "Hard work beats talent, if talent doesn't work hard" - "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard"is true. At least if you think long-term.

You can only become resilient if you experience resistance. A muscle only grows when it has to lift more weight than it is used to. And every untalented person who trains every day will one day be able to lift more than a born exceptional weightlifting talent who does not train. The central message is: Our belief that talent is an indispensable prerequisite for long-term and sustainable success is wrong.

The limits of talent

There is no doubt that Jordan, Nowitzki and Smith were born with a good dose of talent. However, they say themselves that without their will, their determination, the passion for what they do and their irrepressible will to work, they would never have had a successful career over decades. Talent might have led her to a title, to a leading role. But then they would have become comfortable and you would have to look for them in the list of "one-hit wonders".

The lesson for each and every one of us is: We shouldn't allow ourselves to be diverted from our goals because we believe we are not talented. Most importantly, we should never let anyone convince us that we have no talent. Because most of those who judge us accordingly are not experts in the profession about which they allow themselves to judge. For example, did your art teacher or music teacher tell you that you had no artistic or musical streak? Then I ask you: How many works of art did the teacher himself create and sell successfully? How many concerts has the teacher played or how many melodies for number 1 hits has she written? I could write another 100 pages about this, but I would rather refer you to the book "Out of our minds" by Sir Ken Robinson, which clearly shows the flaws in our school system.

As a manager, you have a responsibility that goes far beyond your own life, namely that of your employees. Are you there to look for the talents on the widespread trail and only pay attention to the talented employees? While those who do not convince through talent, but work hard on themselves, are passed over because they find it so difficult. When you observe the talents, do you actually ensure that they are constantly working to get better and are you consciously making sure that they both eliminate weaknesses and develop their strengths? Or do you accept it when they only rely on their talent and not on continuous improvement? Do you also ask them to use their talents to make other employees better or are they placed on a pedestal as geniuses who are better not to be bothered with ordinary mortals?

Getting exceptional talents to face their weaknesses and work on themselves can be an impossibility. Or what do you think, why the coaches of the soccer teams with the most expensive (probably the most talented) players get paid the best? It should actually be the easiest job in the world to train Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Chelsea. But it is not.

Do you actually support those with great potential and will, even if they are not that talented? For example, what do you do if an employee fails a difficult task on the first try? Say: "That was predictable. It was worth a try, but actually it was pointless", or are you counting on the person to develop and helping them? Think back to your art or music teacher! What you say to your co-worker has a significant influence on him. Yes, that also applies when he is 52 years old!

Digitization, Industry 4.0 and Talents

The challenges of the future require a completely new quality of cooperation across all specialist disciplines. A single talent doesn't get us any further, but a combination of many talents and team players who constantly work on themselves can. As a manager, you must clearly identify for the employees you lead, together with each individual, which skills should be further developed - and which characteristics stand in the way of these people for the future. It is a misconception that only those who are not that good need training, coaching or support. If that were the case, then the Jürgen Klopps of this world would be unemployed.

"There is no rush on the steps to success"Because most of them are waiting for the elevator - or standing in the elevator and at some point wonder why it can't go any further up. Use your own talent and the talents of your employees as a springboard for excellence by continuously working on it, at least to be a little bit better than yesterday. If you do that every day, digitization and Co. will bring you to a whole new sense of achievement instead of hovering over you as the sword of Damocles.