What You Need to Know About Talent vs Hard work

What is talent?

We regularly consider people to be talented. Movie stars, professional sportspeople, chart-topping singers, and rocket scientists. They all have a talent. But what does that mean? Are people in these professions born with the talent to make them successful?

Talent is considered an innate ability. We imagine that Lionel Messi was just born with the ability to play football at the highest quality. But that probably isn’t true. He most likely had to work incredibly hard to become one of the most successful football players in the world. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have talent. He just had to nurture his talents to reach his level of success.

Different talents

Some people are born with a natural ability in a particular area. Maybe they do have a high IQ that keeps rising. Perhaps they have always been an incredible actor since they were very small. This is what we consider to be talent. The skills required to start a successful career are the fuel required to start the fire. But it isn’t everything. For talent to thrive, it must be nurtured and worked on.

The ability to work hard is also a talent. Recognizing the importance of hard work and determination is not all that common. It takes resilience and passion for building success, regardless of the level of talent. Believing that your talents will take you far could end up as an excuse not to work hard and ultimately cause failure.

So, talent alone does not lead to success.

Benefits of natural ability

Natural talents get you recognized and appreciated. For example, if, as a young child, you dreamed of becoming an Olympic athlete but had no natural sports abilities, you probably would have quickly given up on this dream. But, if you persevered and worked hard, you may have improved over time, but the likelihood is that you would never be the best at any athletics event.

However, if you realized you could run really fast, you would likely be encouraged to keep working towards this dream. You would have been picked for teams at school and your talents recognized. This would have allowed you to nourish these talents and lead to you competing in the Olympics.

For a career such as this, hard work is essential to be the very best, but you are not likely to ever come close to that point without talent. Similarly, a career in science or art would also require some innate talent to get you off the ground. So, you are better off if you have natural skills and intelligence, as this gives you the building blocks for your career.


This can also apply to jobs that don’t lead to Hollywood movie contracts or gold medals. If you want to be picked for a role in a business, you will be hired because of your reputation and abilities. Sure, you might have the right qualifications and look good on paper. But if your talents don’t shine, you will be overlooked.

Employers will often say they prefer hard workers to those who are simply talented. However, when faced with the choice, the hard workers are less likely to be promoted. This is often because, although they can produce great work, it likely takes longer for them or doesn’t come as naturally. So, the employer sees the outcome and not the process, favoring the talented. However, this depends very much on a person’s work ethic.

Benefits of hard work

Being born talented can often make a person lazy and rest on their laurels. However, learning the importance of hard work early in life creates a positive and strong work ethic. For example, talented children might easily breeze through their exams from a young age and perform well consistently. So, they don’t think they need to work hard to do well. Then they go to college and realize they don’t know how to study or take in new information.

The child who was not so talented at school has learned that they must study long hours and put in the effort to perform well. So when they reach college, they have learned the right skills to help them understand more complex information. Suddenly, the more talented person is not performing so well, while the student with less talent is thriving.

Talent is often perceived as a gift. However, it can be a curse if it discourages hard work and reduces a person’s incentive to work. Often, the person without natural talent has had to build their determination to succeed, which gives them the right work ethic to become successful. In addition, they have learned that it takes deliberate practice to achieve success, as it doesn’t just happen.

Does having natural skills make you successful?

It is straightforward to look at Hollywood actors, chart singers, and famous sportspeople and think that their talent has made them incredibly successful. They are seen as unique and are often put on a pedestal for this. Especially if they reach this level of success while very young, it must be their talent that has led them to this fame and success.

While this may be true in part, they have very likely hard to work hard to reach this level of success. Simply attributing their success to their talent could be somewhat ignorant. This could undermine the hard work they have had to put in to reach this place.

We often judge famous people by their accomplishments and assume they must be so gifted to win many Oscars or gold medals. While they certainly are talented, they would probably prefer to have their hard work acknowledged.

Talent alone

Natural talent does not simply result in success. Unfortunately, many talented people have been told they are not good enough to reach the top.

Vincent van Gogh famously cut off his ear because he felt so unappreciated. It was only following his death that his talents became recognized. However, this didn’t stop him from painting some of his most revered masterpieces.

Similarly, Michael Jordan was told that he was not good enough while in high school. He then, of course, went on to be one of the most successful and admired basketball players in history.

Simply having pure talent will not always lead to success. It also takes determination and self-belief to put in the required effort to succeed. You have to consciously choose to utilize and nurture any innate talent to maintain or improve it.

If you choose to be lazy and ride through life believing you are gifted, it will likely result in very little success. As with choosing to give up if someone puts you down. You decide what you will achieve and how you will get there.

How to be successful with no natural talent

If you have no talents whatsoever, the chances are you probably won’t be an Olympic athlete or the next Lionel Messi. But that’s fine! You can still achieve success if you want to. All it takes is the passion for your work and resilience to keep putting in that effort until you finally reach your goal.

If you feel genuinely passionate about your work, you can be successful. Often, we require the means and support to achieve success, as these help us build upon our strengths and feel encouraged.

With hard work and practice, you can efficiently perform well. It also helps to request regular feedback from your employer or the people around you. Constructive criticism helps us make improvements on ourselves and can increase self-belief.

Achieve your goals

The key to success for those with no specific talent is hard work. Start by considering your goals. Both short-term and very long-term goals. Now think about how you can reach these goals and your requirements in working towards them.

Be disciplined, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted or disheartened. Instead, receive feedback and learn from your mistakes. This is the best way to learn; to get something wrong and figure out yourself how you can make it better.

And lastly, persevere. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough, and don’t ever give up on your dreams. Maintain your motivation and keep putting in that hard work to make your goals a reality.

You decide your own path. Just because you weren’t born a star does not mean you cannot develop your own skills and reach your full potential. Hardworking people can become successful people. Hard work beats talent if you want it enough.

Why hard work beats talent

Talent without hard work leads to becoming lazy and a decrease in natural abilities. Having the intellectual ability or being a gifted athlete will probably help to kick off your career. But without motivation and dedication for hard work, these skills can deplete.

Hard work statistically leads to more success. To find someone who has both talent and the desire to work hard is actually very rare. Hard work alone does not lead to success, nor does talent alone lead to success. To reach your goals, both are required.

Often our environment also plays a big part in our success. If you don’t grow up with the opportunities to thrive or nourish your talents, you will be less likely to succeed. The level of support we are shown as we grow can also impact our efforts. Mainly if we are told we are not good enough to succeed.

However, although these variables can have an impact, it is ultimately up to us to make a choice to work hard or nurture our talents. We create our paths in life. This can also take great effort to recognize and act upon.


So, it seems that we must have passion and determination to succeed in our goals. A combination of talent, hard work, and maybe even a little bit of luck is how we succeed.

Maybe we can’t all be the very best actors or singers. But with a good work ethic and self-belief, we can achieve whatever we put our minds to.

Talent might be more easily recognized, but hard work beats talent in achieving real success.