We have all been compared to someone at some point in our life. And we have also beaten ourselves up for not being born with similar talent as someone else. Read on to learn what is it that really counts at the end of the day, is it hard work or talent?

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?”
“A cheque.”

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.




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Hard work beats talent: Here are some examples that will help you understand – Why and how hard work always works in your favor and just being talented is never enough.
What is important to be successful in life - hard work or talent? Can hard work beat talent?

The difference between intention and skill: It is one thing to have the intention to do something right and it is quite another to have the skill to do so. Sometimes you want to help someone or the other person wants to help you, that’s all very good but unless you possess the right skill, such intention is not going to amount to much. This gap between intention and skill is why many of us face failures in our endeavors. You may be a great artist, for example, but if your work isn’t selling then acquire sales skills. Success in each area requires a different skillset. Perhaps, that’s why, learning is a lifelong process.

Almost everything we know in life, we have learned it somewhere. And what we know really well is usually what we have done repeatedly, something we have championed by way of practice and training. Read more here.

Why is that the most successful people are born with talent and the vast majority, however, end up leading a mediocre life with no real talent?

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.

In my view, the one quality that all successful people possess without fail is decisiveness.

Yes, decisiveness. Read more here, and learn – how you too can cultivate this talent.

Is it possible to make any child a genius or are geniuses born with a certain temperament and talents?

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. As a parent, you can make them aware of that possibility in a way they will understand, and help them walk the path they wish to tread. 

Herein, I share how to go about building that character in a child’s mind so they are able to weather their storms with grace, and yet continue to sail through. Read more here.

Why do some people have talent and still do not succeed?

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? 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
Read more on each one of these points

Our happiness depends a great deal on a sense of personal fulfillment and that, in turn, depends on pursuing what matters to us. What role does talent play in this?

There have been the likes of Einstein, Voltaire, Aristotle, Mozart, and Rembrandt who bestowed upon us priceless scientific, philosophical, spiritual, and artistic treasures. And countless more who were geniuses no less remained veiled behind the curtains of obscurity.

Irrespective of the fact whether these talented ones were famous or not, rich or struggling, they led their life in a certain state of flow, a trance-like state, a state where their happiness or sense of fulfillment wasn’t dependent on how the world saw them. They were not necessarily born as geniuses but they worked hard, very hard, to explore, nurture, and polish their talents. In fact, they devoted their entire life to just the thing that mattered to them the most.

Read more here.

How can nature help us in building on our talents?

Often on our path, Nature gives us clues, it arranges things for us but one is often blind-sided by one’s own expectations, misconceptions, and misplaced emotions. You know the goal, you may know the path, you may even be aware of the milestones. This is not the complete picture still. You are going to meet other people on your way, however unusual your track may be. You may look upon them as your opponents or allies. They may be selling what you don’t want, they may be giving what you don’t like, the truth is they are there for a reason, Nature has placed them strategically.

Read more here.

Is it true that hard work beats talent? What is the secret of mastery?

While growing up, most of us have our sources of inspiration, our role models, people we admire, our super-heroes. These are the people who reached the pinnacle in their respective fields and the world labeled them as geniuses, child prodigies, talented, gifted and so on. For, they demonstrated not only an extraordinary skill but a great degree of effortlessness too. As if they just sat down and championed their art. Nothing could be further from truth than the assumption that they were born with it or somehow got it all too easy.

Effortlessness in anything comes from immense effort. The more mindful effort we put in any endeavor, the easier it gets to become naturally good at it. Whatever you wish to master, be it meditation or basketball or anything at all, be prepared to put in a lot of tiring hours. Keep at it. Mindfully.

Read more here.

Does passion override talent? Which plays a bigger role in finding one’s purpose in life?

Every single happy person, and every successful person, without fail, has a sense of individual purpose, almost a sort of passion. Look around, and you’ll know what I mean. Often, it’s not even a grand plan or a gigantic goal; it is merely something they love doing. Whether that’s feeding the poor or following the stars, ice hockey or scuba diving, coding software or writing books, dancing or doodling, soccer or stitching, it doesn’t matter. They are passionate about something.

Read more here