To Succeed, You Need More Than Talent

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Photo by Andrew Rice on Unsplash

For those of you who don’t know, this man is Conor McGregor.

He is a UFC fighter, and one of the most famous sportsmen in the world.

He became the first person in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously when he defeated Eddie Alvarez in 2016.

You might think he was blessed with talent, that he had God-given ability.

You would be wrong.

Flashback to 2012 and McGregor was living off employment benefit in Dublin. About as far removed from the bright lights of Vegas as you can get.

What enabled McGregor to become the household name he is today?

Well, I can tell you it was definitely not talent.

McGregor’s Rise

“Life is about growing and improving and getting better.” — Conor McGregor

If you ask most people today who Conor McGregor is, they will answer without hesitation.

Had you asked the same question five, or even, three years ago, most people would look at you blankly and ask “who!?”

How has this man from a humble background in Dublin, Ireland risen from nothing to become one of the most recognisable faces on the planet?

Two words, hard work.

In his own words, McGregor was obsessed.

Obsessed with becoming the best. Obsessed with improving his skills. Obsessed about the process.

That obsession enabled McGregor to take himself from relative obscurity in Dublin to global stardom.

It didn’t happen overnight, it was a long and tiring process. One that is hidden from view. Hours in the gym, away from prying eyes.

Even when McGregor made it to the UFC after four years, he was still claiming welfare benefits from the Irish government!

His journey had taken a lot of sacrifice and a shedload of hard work, but even though he had made it, he hadn’t truly made it.

In some ways, the journey was only beginning.

To break into a sport that is dominated by Americans, is an immense achievement. Especially for someone hailing from Dublin, where there was a tiny MMA scene when McGregor started.

McGregor shows you can achieve anything, no matter how big, if you believe in yourself and work your ass off.

Anything is possible.

The Idea of Talent Is A Myth

“There’s no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all equal as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that is that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.” — Conor McGregor

McGregor is extremely clear about how he became the star we recognise today.

He dedicates his success to his relentless work ethic and obsession.

This is contrary to what we normally hear. We are constantly fed stories of how athletes were born to compete in their sports.

How Messi was meant to play football.

How Tiger Woods was born to play golf.

It may be true that some of us are predisposed to excel in certain areas, but it’s only true to an extent.

Talent without application is just potential. If you have no application, the potential will be wasted.

Nowhere is this more evident than in sports.

Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. He has won six Super Bowls and three league MVP awards.

You may think he was always destined to be a superstar.

Yet, Brady was only the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.

He only got his chance with the Patriots when regular starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured.

Brady had to bide his time, but when he got his chance, he made sure he took it. His sheer will to improve and win took him further than his apparent lack of talent indicated.

Often, it is not the most talented that rise to the top. Instead, it is those who dedicate every waking second to honing their skills.

They may have less talent than others, but their will to win and succeed is stronger.

There Is One Foolproof Road To Success

“The world talent frustrates me. I love talent and I love seeing it, but these players need to understand the other side of the game: fighting, winning, tackling, going where it hurts, letting your lungs burn, really digging deep.” — Steven Gerrard

Talent will only take you so far. If you want to succeed at anything in life you have to work hard. Harder than everyone else.

By working hard at your craft every single day, you are creating more opportunities for yourself to be successful.

Only you know what your definition of success is.

For some people it’s having financial freedom.

For others, it’s owning their own house.

While many people want to run their own business.

Whatever success is for you, talent will only help you so much. You have to dedicate yourself to consistently improving on a daily basis to reach your goals.

It’s that simple.

By working every day without fail, you are cultivating habits that will see your skills blossom in the long-run.

McGregor knew this.

Tiger knew this.

Brady knew this.

By simply showing up and committing to improving, as opposed to relying solely on your talent, you stand a better chance of succeeding than most people.

Everyone starts at the bottom. They may be on top now, but they all rose from nothing.

If you’re willing to put in the work, you too, could rise to the top.

Hard work pays off in the end.

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