Why talent is not enough

Over the years, I have noticed that the people that have the most talent often underachieve.   For example, I have known musicians who are geniuses but struggled to get through college and never did much after that.  In fact, in virtually every field I have been associated with, I have known geniuses who fizzled rather than sizzled.

Unfortunately, neither intellect nor talent is enough to make anyone successful in their respective discipline.  Talent must be combined with one additional character trait, and normally two others as well.

The trait that talent MUST be combined with is drive.  By drive, I am referring to being passionate and hard-working.  There are no exceptions to this rule: the best people at anything have to work hard for it, regardless of their level of talent.  For example, in the field of music, it is not coincidence that the best musicians not only are extremely talented but also practice hours a day.

Here are two other traits that you normally see in highly successful people:

Emotional Intelligence
This term refers to the ability of relating to other people.  It means reading other people, understanding what they need, and find ways to work with them.  Ideally, people with this trait care about others and want to help them.  But, having skill in this area does not necessarily mean that a person is nice.  In fact, some people have a high level of emotional intelligence but abuse it by manipulation. 

The reason emotional intelligence is so important is because no man is an island.  We all need others to help us achieve our potential.

Many a would-be-great musician is held back by arrogance.  I often say that every great musician I know is still taking lessons on at least an occasional basis.   That is true for every discipline.  People that decide they no longer need to learn will almost certainly underachieve.

Think for a second about highly successful people you know and see if I am right.  My guess is that most have all three traits.  Some will be arrogant and some may have horrible emotional intelligence, but it is for sure than every one will have drive.

I usually keep these traits in mind when I come up with new years resolutions.  I have a lot of growing to do in all of these areas. 

Happy new year!