4 questions to identify your talent and 11 ways to maximize it

When watching Lebron James play basketball, I’ve found myself feeling like we’re not even the same species. Same goes for many professional athletes.

I could never do what he does. I definitely don’t have the height or skill. But, I could duplicate some of what he has with time and effort.

I could work out more and get the strength.

I could work on my quickness.

I could study the game and learn the sets and nuisances.

But I’d always lack the height. No matter what I did, I couldn’t duplicate that.

But of that list, only one of those is something he was born with. Maybe he had some other natural propensity towards basketball, but how can we know that? How can we tell?

This goes back to the unanswerable question: how much of a result is talent and how much hard work?

There is no doubt that Lebron worked extremely hard to get where he did. But I could work just as hard and would still have no chance. So it’s clear talent and height have something to do with the equation.

We’ll never answer this question because it’s different in every situation.

But the reality is, we all have talent of some kind. I can’t tell you what yours is, but in Atomic Habits, James clear asks 4 questions that attempt to help you discover your unique talents:

  1. What feels like fun to me, but work to others?
  2. What makes me lose track of time?
  3. Where do I get greater returns than the average person?
  4. What comes naturally to me?

If Lebron wasn’t a hard worker, he might not even be in the league!

So, what he actually did was capitalize on the natural talent he had through hard work.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can do that.

So the question then is, once we’ve identified our talents, how can we develop them?

Look for ways to use your talent

If you don’t keep your eyes open, opportunities will pass you by.

Be curious and open.

Take action

Once you’ve identified your opportunities, just start.

Any delay is procrastination.

Make daily progress through habits

Once you’ve started, identify habits and daily action that will keep you progressing.

Small steps each day lead to big changes over time.

Record your progress

Visibility into your progress is key.

When you don’t record, you forget.

Check your attitude

A bad attitude narrows your horizon, which limits your outcomes.

Focus on gratitude and keeping an open mindset.

Follow through

f you say you’re going to do something, do it.

Each time you follow through, you’re casting a vote for being the person you desire to be.

Be nimble

Being flexible when things go wrong allows you to pivot as necessary.

Pivoting creates an advantage and allows you to leverage your talent in new ways.

Be teachable

Teachable people ask questions and look for their blind spots.

You’ll learn 10x more than someone fixed in their idea.

Find a mentor

This doesn’t mean to go ask someone “be my mentor.”

Identify someone one or two steps ahead of you and ask them to lunch.

Then come prepared with questions so you can learn from them.

Take chances

A lot of people have talent. Few work hard and have perseverance.

Take measured chances. Your talent and perseverance makes it easier to recover from setbacks.

Recognize when you need a new challenge

Sometimes it’s just time to move on.

The ability to recognize this will increase your growth rate over time.

Talent + Hard Work = Elite Performance

Talent alone is never enough.

Talent gets you started, then hard work develops the talent.

I talk about this in my podcast episode this week.

You can listen here.


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