In Tales of the Hasidim, Martin Buber tells the story of a Jewish master, Rabbi Zusya. The rabbi (talented/ gifted) had led a life of extraordinary devotion and certitude, and yet, when he was dying, he cried inconsolably. This behavior of Zusya completely baffled his students who were present in the same room at the time. They tried to pacify him by saying all kinds of positive things, but Rabbi Zusya wouldn’t stop shedding tears.
“Take heart, Rebbe,” the students spoke, “you lived an exemplary life. You have been as wise as Moses and as kind as Abraham, so you will be judged positively in heaven.”
“When I go to heaven,” Zusya said, “I will not be asked why weren’t you like Moses, or why weren’t you like Abraham. They will ask, why weren’t you like Zusya?” Why didn’t you fully live up to your own potential?”
That’s all that really counts at the end of the day. That is: have I lived up to my potential? Doing so is not possible though unless I discover my own truth, not my teacher’s or my ideal’s, but my own. The gift, the talent I am born with. And the courage to charter my own course requires self-belief and conviction, neither of which comes unless I’m at peace with myself and my decisions.
I have also realized that to be at peace requires a degree of self-esteem. You must have a certain level of acceptance and love for yourself before you can be at peace with who, where, and what you are, figuratively and materially. And, it’s not possible to love or respect yourself unless you are at ease, unless you live with a sort of carefree abandon.
Often when someone asks us who we are, our first response is to start narrating our CV, that I’m a graduate from such-and-such university or that I work for so-and-so or that I am the CEO etc. We rarely say what we stand for. We don’t usually say, I’m a kind person, a truthful or honest person. Instead, we start telling them what we do.
Such a mindset distances us from the gifts and the talent we are born with. We lose track of why we are here or what we can do with our lives.
Most of us are forever trying to be like someone else. Inspiration is good, imitation, not so. As they say, a true measure of progress is not how well we perform in comparison to others, but how we are doing compared to our own past. As long as comparisons inspire us, it is perhaps still healthy but we are on a perilous road when such they make us feel inadequate.
Parker J. Palmer in Let Your Life Speak pens down a beautiful passage. I read this book over five years ago, but for some reason the memory and the gist of his message has stayed with me. I quote.
Watching my granddaughter from her earliest days on earth, I was able, in my early fifties, to see something that had eluded me as a twenty-something parent: my granddaughter arrived in the world as this kind of person rather than that, or that, or that.
She did not show up as raw material to be shaped into whatever image the world might want her to take. She arrived with her own gifted form, with the shape of her own sacred soul. Biblical faith calls it the image of God in which we are all created… The humanist tradition calls it identity and integrity. No matter what you call it, it is a pearl of great price.
In those early days of my granddaughter’s life, I began observing the inclinations and proclivities that were planted in her at birth. I noticed, and I still notice, what she likes and dislikes, what she is drawn toward and repelled by, how she moves, what she does, what she says.
I am gathering my observations in a letter. When my granddaughter reaches her late teens or early twenties, I will make sure that my letter finds its way to her, with a preface something like this: “Here is a sketch of who you were from your earliest days in this world.
It is not a definitive picture—only you can draw that. But it was sketched by a person who loves you very much. Perhaps those notes will help you do sooner something your grandfather did only later: remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.”
We arrive in this world with birthright gifts, talents—then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them.
As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots… We are disabused of original giftedness , talents in the first half of our lives. Then – if we are awake, aware, and able to admit our loss – we spend the second half trying to recover and reclaim the gift we once possessed.
On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, confused about what he ought to do, Arjuna too had lost his way. He no longer wanted to be a warrior or fight for the cause that mattered. He was ready to give up. Krishna gave some similar advice to Arjuna.
shreyan sva-dharmo vigunah para-dharmat sv-anushthitat, svabhava-niyatam karma kurvan napnoti kilbisham. IAST: śhreyān swa-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣhṭhitāt svabhāva-niyataṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣham. (Bhagavad Gita, 18.47) You can't give up what comes to you naturally and copy someone else, it's not worth it. There's no conflict nor confusion when you align your talents with your action.
In my humble opinion, if you choose to not utilize your skills or your talent, or make a decision to operate at a level much lower than what you are capable of, you won’t experience lasting happiness. Even if we despise it, nature takes work from us according to our mindset, potential, and our stream of consciousness. We may as well then align ourselves for boundless creativity and joy.
Mulla Nasrudin was showing around the newly built university to the chief guest, a local minister, when they stopped by the library with a large inscription that read, The Al Habib Hall of Wisdom.
“Who’s Al Habib?” the minister asked curiously. “Never heard of him!”
“Why, sir,” Mulla said, “he was a great author.”
“Really? What did he write?”
The world will not remember us for what we kept to ourselves but for what we gave away. We will not be honored for what we could have done but for what we did. We are not respected for our potential or talent but for action. We are not valued for the intentions we have but for the outcome we deliver.
We don’t feel good for what we can do but for what we actually do. If that’s the case, which it is, we may as well reclaim our gifts and do our best. At least, we’ve got to try. Why just aim for the moon when you can land on it.
Colonel Harland Sanders created the world’s largest fast-food chicken chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC.
From an early age, after his father’s death, Sanders was responsible for looking after his siblings. He worked numerous jobs including being a streetcar conductor and a railroad fireman.
When he was 40, he was running a service station in Kentucky which he eventually shifted to a restaurant across the street. A fried chicken recipe he came up with became so popular that the governor of the town named him a Kentucky colonel.
A while later, Sanders began franchising his business. Over the next few years, he traveled to restaurants across the country, striking franchise deals. In 1964, with more than 600 franchised outlets, he sold his business to investors for $2 million dollars.
From a farm boy in rural Indiana to a fast-food chain mogul, Sanders had come a long way.
All of us are born with the potential for greatness, with the capability to change the world. So, why do only a few succeed while many of us falter?
You may have heard of, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” That’s the answer.
Lack of persistence, hard work and in some cases, resources. Sanders’ story, though, proves that lack of resources need not be an obstacle. When we are willing to work hard with undying determination, Nature arranges for the rest.
Find your happy place in hard work 😊 For, as Om Swami says, “A consistent person of average intelligence is far more likely to succeed than an erratic genius.”
Are you ready to unlock your potential?
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Does hard work beat talent?
It is one thing to have the intention to do something right and it is quite another to have the skill to do so. It’s the same with talent and hard work. Talent means nothing if you don’t work hard to back it up.
This gap between intention and skill, between talent and hard work, is why many of us face failures in our endeavors.
Whatever it is that you want to attain, that’s what you want to be. To achieve that, you wish to act or work a certain way. That’s your intention. Whether you are able to actually work in your intended manner is a matter of skill.
The good news is that given reasonable time, guidance and discipline, each one of us is capable of mastering just about any skill. Work hard on the skill and the rest will fall in place.
When you acknowledge the difference in intention vs. skill, you have taken the first step towards understanding your potential. Bridge this gap; success is not far then.
Why do some people work hard but still don’t succeed?
What is it really that makes some people wildly successful? Honesty? Yeah, right. (I wish.) Maybe luck, access to resources, opportunities, dedication, hard work and so forth play an important role.
But then again, there are many hardworking people who have the same resources and opportunities as many others and yet they live from one day to another, never realizing their full potential.
So, what is the one thing you find in all the successful people? Absolutely all of them. Bar none. At least, what I have observed after meeting so many is that each one of them does indeed possess a special common trait. It’s a quality anyone can gain and cultivate.
Before I spell it out, I would like to share a small story I came across the other day. In Dan Ariely’s wonderful book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, he cites a story of Xiang Yu who went onto become the emperor of China.
Read the story and the singular quality of success in the First Trait of Successful People.
Is talent in-born or can it be cultivated?
In my view, the gist of scores of studies in child and human psychology spanning over several decades is as follows:
1. Every child is a promise.
2. That promise can be turned into a genius.
3. Such a genius can be a happy person.
4. Coaching begins when they are very young.
5. It must be fun and playful.
Irrespective of what you and I think, the truth is that the child in your home carries a seed of greatness. They represent an opportunity to explore the immense human potential. You can help them to make a difference to our world, to be the best in whatever they undertake.
You can help them understand their potential. Every daughter is a Gandhi, an Einstein or a Mozart waiting to be discovered. Every child has the potential to become a Picasso, a Ronaldo or a Nelson Mandela.
Not everything is in our control, but with a great deal of what is, you can as a parent vastly increase the chances of ensuring your child reaches the heights of greatness without being pushy or preachy.
It begins with instilling a sense of excellence in all aspects of life, which if I may add, is a lifelong journey. But making a genius is very much possible, as Laszlo and Klara Polgar, parents of three female chess geniuses, proved.
What are the 5 reasons for failure?
Ever wonder why, other things being equal, some people seem to succeed effortlessly while many others fail no matter how hard they try? Why are your plans not working out despite working to your full potential?
Here’s my two cents worth; five reasons why your plans don’t materialize:
- You are all thought and no action
- You expose your plans too early
- You give up too soon
- You don’t listen
- You don’t follow your discipline
Palaces of success are built on a truthful and sincere ground. One block at a time. Understand better why your plans fail so that you may fill your life with the palaces of success.
How do I work hard in high school so that I succeed in life?
Have you ever wondered how to realize your true potential? What is the root of success? And how to work hard, no matter what?
The video below tells you how. Hard work beats talent, any day!
- 0:10: Nitya karma or daily work
- 1:10: A student’s greatest enemy
- 4:04: What’s your technique of study?
- 5:01: Self-discipline: how I bathed in cold water