Talent is overrated

Common: Blaming poor results on a lack of innate talent.

Uncommon: Talent is overrated. It’s actually quite a useless metric to measure or predict much of anything.

There, I said it.

It seems that people who are unhappy with what they have accomplished over the course of 5, 10 or more years almost always make statements that suggest a lack of natural ability. They often conclude that they don’t “have what it takes.”  It’s the classic case of focusing on differentiating factors of successful people rather than the similarities.

The reality is, we all ‘have’ an equal amount of what really matters: time.  And time is opportunity – hands down the greatest asset we have. Time really is the great equalizer. More than anything else, it’s how we use our minutes that determines the quality of our lives.

Successful individuals realize that time is more valuable than skill, money, and almost any other resource because with enough time, you can hone skills, raise capital, nurture relationships, and summon what is required for an exceptional life.

“Ok,” you ask, ”but is it really important to obsess about the seconds and minutes of our day?” Rather than give my opinion, I’ll let you make the call. Here’s how the details add up…

Minutes & hours in a day chart

When asked, most people cannot accurately identify where their time goes—especially segments of 5 to 10 minutes. This is alarming. When the result is two and a half days lost in a single year, I hope it’s sobering enough to make you realize that squandered minutes quickly lead to a squandered life .

Let’s look at it from another, more intriguing perspective…

Your life expense account

Imagine that every morning a deposit of $86,400.00 was added to your checking account. But with each gift deposit come two unbreakable rules:

  1. At the end of each day, your account balance is completely wiped. Everything you don’t spend during the day disappears. No transfers allowed.
  2. The game can end at any time without warning.

What would you do with this capital? How might you act differently?  What would your days look like?

Truth be told, this is not an exercise in financing. It’s (much) more sobering than that. Metaphorically, this ‘game’ is your life. The daily deposits of 86,400 are the number of seconds we’re granted each day. Money or not, the same immutable rules apply to our lives. How we use these non-refundable 86,400 units is our choice.

A little obsession with a big impact

Looking back on this year puts a smile on my face when I think about the many incredible things I’ve been able to do ­– its definitely been an ‘uncommon’ year (more on this in an upcoming post). But, I dare to say that none of it is the result of ‘natural ability.’ I am smart enough to know that I’m not sharpest tool in the shed (sigh).

Nonetheless, this awareness has changed my life in surprisingly positive way. Instead of focusing on the obscure, immeasurable, and inheritable elements of ‘talent,’ I turned my attention to maximizing what is universally equal: our time.

Over the years I’ve developed a healthy obsession about the 86,400 units of time that construct my day. From a young age I have attempted to squeeze the most out of each passing minute. And that has made all of the difference. Why? Because…

The willingness to manage your time fanatically precedes any increase in output.


Use it or lose it

How we use our time says everything about our priorities, our level of self-respect, and our understanding of the finite nature of life itself.

The way we use our time is directly related to how we value it.

I personally make use of many tools, systems, and habits that have allowed me do more than commonly possible while saving me 100 hours of personal time this year. But even the best tools won’t change the fundamental catalyst: Your degree of passion for protecting time. The reality is, no one else can make you care – care about the 84,6000 seconds you’re gifted each day.

The best tools and insights will do absolutely nothing if not preceded by a passion for how often and how well each is applied. In other words, the magic of uncommon results is revealed in the application of time.

As I shared on the TUL Facebook page, the passing of time combined with an effort to be a better person presents all of the opportunities necessary to grow into a better version of yourself and claim the life you’ve always wanted. Even the largest mountains and the hardest rocks are no match against the tenacity of time – and we have much more of it than we care to admit (and often use).

If you can spare 15 minutes a day, you will have 3.8 full days each year to build a skill, network with extraordinary people, experiment with new productivity tools, and (fill in the blank). The only question remaining is, will you? Will you eradicate time waste? Will you stop blaming a lack natural talent?

When your response is a resounding “yes,” barriers to the uncommon become not only surmountable, but also somewhat irrelevant.

Stay uncommon,

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