Your Own Biggest Obstacle

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
- Thomas A. Edison

Studies on success and expertise point to the same surprising conclusion over and over again. Talent is massively overrated. It’s mostly the effort you put in and how smart you train that determines whether you succeed or fail.

But here’s the ironic part: most people believe in the concept of talent so strongly that they talk themselves out of even getting started.

It’s fun to believe in talent and marvel at the gifts god bestowed on Tiger Woods or Serena Williams or Mozart or Beyonce or whoever else seems to have been granted superstar status from on high.

It’s not so exciting to think about the thousands upon thousands of hours of grueling practice each superstar went through to get where they are. Practicing your craft until your fingers bleed isn’t something most of us fantasize about.

Think about our obsession with superheroes as well. The idea that you could one day wake up with abilities beyond human comprehension is fun to dream about.

The reality is boring by comparison. The fact that anyone who puts in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice can gain elite level skills just doesn’t have the same fantasy factor.

Actually, it’s not that the reality is boring, it’s that the reality makes us feel bad. The reality that our heroes simply worked much, much harder and smarter at something than we have makes us feel unmotivated or even lazy.

So we go on believing that they possess something special that we don’t have.

(some people reading this will come up with other special factors, about opportunities, about access, about general IQ, but they’re all just other excuses not to reach your own magnificent potential)

We are our own biggest obstacles. We talk ourselves out of doing incredible things because we’re afraid to find out if we have what it takes.

Anything we want to do is possible, but only if we’re willing to work for it. Believing too much in talent keeps us from doing what really matters: putting in the time and challenging ourselves to improve every day.

How are you challenging yourself today?


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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: