Is Talent or Hard Work More Important to Become Successful?

On ESPN.com the other day, I saw an interview with a fighter Conor McGregor.

A fiery young fighter from Dublin, who has a piercing self-confidence.

Something he said in that interview struck me. I’ll spare you from trying to quote it word for word and just sum it up nicely.

Following his journey since a little boy, the story went into detail on what it was that made McGregor so successful at his art.

It wasn’t his size, nor did he come from a fighting family.

He said he doesn’t even believe in talent. That we are all born equal.

What he believes sets him apart is the willingness and tenacity always to be the hardest working guy in the gym.

That’s it. You work hard, and you will get results.

I’ll add to this by saying that through hard work, you learn how to work smart.

Like learning rock climbing.

For the first few weeks, I would just muscle myself up the wall. Now I am learning to climb with more grace.

I’m still working hard, but through the hard work, I am developing skill.

Many famous people have similar attitudes that hard work trumps talent.

This quote from a video by Will Smith is wildly popular, but I will share it here anyways.

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?

You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.” – Will Smith

These days, I will go out and say that people are straight up lazy. Not just lazy, I believe they are uninspired. Feeling trapped in the rat race. Like it takes some magic potion to achieve our dreams.

Without being inspired, they just stay stuck. And the longer they stay stuck, the deeper they sink into the mud.

The secret sauce to it all is hard work. When you get home from work, staying up late to work on a passion project.

Back when I was 22, I remember going to sleep at 2am with my laptop on my chest only to wake up at 6 or 7am. I’d grab a Starbucks frappuccino and my laptop from the floor and start working again.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary. It was my process to learn what hard work was.

I was fighting to feed myself and my dog.

When comfort sets in, people sometimes lose that sense of urgency.

But, the thing was that I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed those nights of four hours of sleep. I was so inspired that I just couldn’t sleep.

It was a grind. It was nasty. Grueling. Thrilling. I loved every second of it.

Hard work and inspiration go hand in hand. Being inspired and following our dreams is all we need to learn to develop that hustle.

When things get tough, our purpose is what will bring us back on track.

Go just a little bit harder.

Push yourself. Test yourself. See what you are made of.

But, never lose sight of where you are going. Always make time for your vision.

It matters for the sake of you and everyone around you.

Hard work and inspiration are contagious.