“What did the first frog say ? Lord, how you made me jump!.  God made the frog jump; but the frog prefers jumping.” – GK Chesterton

Does persistence trump talent ?  I think we have all heard every side of the argument that talent can be learned.   That persistence is the quality that can’t be imposed from the outside. Persistence seems to come from within. It’s that drive to succeed, to overcome obstacles, to persevere.

You could probably interpret this in a couple of ways. Firstly, you could interpret it as meaning that you should focus on what you’re naturally good at. In this way, you’ll be capitalizing on your own natural abilities, and are more likely to be very good at that activity. Secondly, you could interpret it as meaning that if you do more of an activity, you’ll be better than those who might be naturally gifted, but who don’t work at it.

The magic trifecta is to be naturally gifted at something you enjoy, to realize this early, and to spend a lot of time doing it. That’s seems to be the recipe for success. Second best is picking something you like doing, and doing it a lot. Third best is just working hard at something you’re not naturally good at, and that you don’t really like. You’ll still end up better at it than people who are gifted, but don’t work hard.

Figuring out what you’re naturally good at can be tricky. What if you live in Ottawa, Canada, and you’re a naturally gifted guitar player? What are the odds that you’ll get the same breaks there as someone who lives in Nashville, TN ? Instead, you may choose some other endeavor, like maybe ice hockey.

Ray Croc, the leader who franchised and built the McDonald’s company once said, “Press on.   Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence”.

It has been said that success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired–you quit when the gorilla is tired.  It definitely takes us outside of our comfort zone.

Now for the other side of the coin:  You can have lots of persistence (which may be from sheer force of will, or strong desire, may even be a talent you have), but you can only persist at some things for so long and get good results (there’s a reason for this). In absence of talent, you generally won’t become excellent at what you’re doing, nor will there by much personal incentive to keep doing it.   The specific things that you can persist at and become good at will be heavily influenced by your unique talents. (Your values and interests also come into play.)

And then there is that “destiny thing” that we have to add to the whole equation, that we seem to have little control of.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *