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Why determination wins over talent every time

By Veronica Merry

As a coach, I help people clarify, set and achieve goals. As part of this process, I have witnessed many people experiencing the ‘ups and downs’ of making progress and having setbacks along the way to achieving their goals. But the key attribute that sets apart those who achieve their goal and those who don’t is undeniably determination.

 

In fact, I strongly believe that determination is more important than talent when it comes to achieving goals. And this belief applies across disciplines. Let me explain.

 

Before I entered the coaching profession, I taught singing to secondary school students and sang professionally. In this role, I was often asked “can people really learn to sing? Aren’t they just born with singing talent or not?”.

As a coach, I help people clarify, set and achieve goals. As part of this process, I have witnessed many people experiencing the ‘ups and downs’ of making progress and having setbacks along the way to achieving their goals. But the key attribute that sets apart those who achieve their goal and those who don’t is undeniably determination.

 

In fact, I strongly believe that determination is more important than talent when it comes to achieving goals. And this belief applies across disciplines. Let me explain.

 

Before I entered the coaching profession, I taught singing to secondary school students and sang professionally. In this role, I was often asked “can people really learn to sing? Aren’t they just born with singing talent or not?”.

The story of two students

I want to answer this question by telling you a story about two singing students who both wanted to study voice at university.

 

Both students started lessons in Grade 11 which gave them 2 years of singing lessons to prepare for their university audition.

 

The first student had amazing natural talent. Although she had never had a singing lesson, she was able to sing well beyond the skill level of students who had been studying voice for several years.

 

The second student possessed average singing ability but had real passion for singing. At her first lesson she told me she was willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to realise her goal of getting into university to study voice.

 

After 6 months of lessons, the first student’s ability remained pretty much the same. She wouldn’t implement a daily practice schedule and therefore her progress was quite minimal. However, the second student began to improve out of sight. In the same amount of lessons, her vocal agility, projection, resonance and range increased. Her overall ability as a musician also exponentially improved as she had taken on keyboard and music theory lessons.

 

After two years of lessons, can you guess which student got into study music at university?

Of course it was student number 2. Why?

 

Because determination beats talent every time.

 

This realisation can be applied to all the goals we set for ourselves in all aspects of work, life and study. Achievement is directly related to how determined we are to achieve. In other words, how badly we want it.

 

And this is very closely linked to our mindset and self-efficacy of believing that we ‘can’ do it.

 

As Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you are right”.

 

Think about it. While student number 1 had oodles of singing talent, she wasn’t prepared to practice regularly to increase her ability. She didn’t want it badly enough. Even though student number 2 had less natural ability, with regular practice and determination to increase her musical ability, she improved exponentially. And it paid off.

 

How determined are you to achieve your goals in work, life and study?

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Veronica Merry (MerryCoach) is passionate about helping people and organisations learn, adapt and evolve to achieve their vision. Veronica has over 17 years’ experience in designing and delivering learning programs across a broad range of disciplines including organisation development, change management, leadership and performance development, mentoring and coaching.  Contact Veronica to help you design and deliver your next organisational development program.

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