Why Hard Work Beats Out Natural Talent


Tim Notke, a high school basketball coach, said, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” This is so true in business. As entrepreneurs, we have to learn how to work hard if we want to succeed. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss the importance of hard work.

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Key Takeaways

Here are some of the key takeaways from this episode:

  1. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
  2. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Entrepreneurship takes a lot of hard work. We have to put in the time and effort if we want to become successful.
  3. We should be the hardest workers in the building.

Learning to Work Hard

For many years, I was part of a group of more than 100 very successful entrepreneurs. We met together a couple of times a year and judged business plan competitions and entrepreneurship competitions. It was an amazing group to be part of. When I participated in that group, there was a joke among the members of the group that they had to work hard to keep their success from ruining their children.

I remember one successful entrepreneur who made a lot of money in a tech company he built and sold. When his son graduated from high school, his son informed him that he wasn’t going to go to college. He told his dad, “I don’t need to go to college because you’ve got plenty of money.” Sometimes, our success can create an entitlement in the next generation of our family. We should make sure to teach our children the importance of hard work.

I have not seen anywhere near the same success as some of the people in that group, but I’ve tried very hard with my daughters to not allow my successes to hurt them in a negative way. For example, my youngest daughter loves to dance and she puts in a lot of hours in practice each week. These dance classes are expensive and even though I could pay for all of it, she has to pay 25% of it herself.

She does jobs around the house, she pulls weeds, cleans the garage, etc. and works hard to pay for her portion of her dance classes she is committed to. This deal we have with our daughter is to teach her the principle of hard work. The things we want in life often don’t come for free. We have to put in the work necessary to achieve the results.

Hard Work Beats Natural Talent

Hard work beats out natural talent when talent doesn’t work hard. This is a particularly relevant principle for me. In my early life, I was a runner. My father would take me to go run 10k races with him. I remember winning those 10k races in my age division, but it wasn’t because I was naturally the fastest of all the kids my age. It was because my father helped me train harder and more often than anyone else. Hard work helped me win those races and has since helped me achieve success in my entrepreneurial journey.

When I was in college, I didn’t have the luxury of someone else paying for my college education for me. I really needed a scholarship to pay for my education. I wasn’t the smartest of all of my peers in college, but I knew I could work hard. So, I studied, worked hard on my grades, and very regularly stayed in the library until they closed. As a result, after my freshman year in college, I received the largest private academic scholarship from the university, even though I wasn’t the smartest one there.

We don’t have to be the smartest or the most creative. If we take the time to practice and work hard, we can still accomplish just as much as those who have more natural talent.

Entrepreneurship is Hard Work

I have a concern for new entrepreneurs who I hear making statements like, “I want to be an entrepreneur because I don’t want to work very much.” And that worries me. Every successful entrepreneur I’ve known and worked with has had to work hard. Harder than most. I have never met or spoken with an entrepreneur who has not had to work very hard.

When an entrepreneur creates a business, they have to put in a lot of hard work to create something amazing. Eventually, that business may reach a spot where the entrepreneur can hire other people to run the operation. That entrepreneur then has the freedom to start taking a lot of money out of that company and increase the amount of travel and recreation they do.

The next generation sees the success, but they don’t see the many hours of hard work. They don’t see all the hours that entrepreneurs had to put in without making a lot of money at the beginning. When the next generation sees this, they want to start where the entrepreneur is now. They don’t want to start where he was when he started and I think that’s very damaging and detrimental.

If you’re a new entrepreneur and you’re wanting to be an entrepreneur because you don’t want to work hard, then you might want to think twice about that. Entrepreneurship may not be the right place for you. I do not personally know any successful entrepreneurs that have not had to work very hard. Now, if you’re willing to work hard, you have a very good chance of becoming successful and reaching that spot where you don’t have to put in the hours. But, that is the result of what comes after you’ve worked hard.

Let me give you a few examples of this. Many of us look at the Beatles as one of the most successful bands in the history of music. But the Beatles didn’t become an overnight success. The Beatles became so good because they had to put in hours and hours of practice. They had to perform their music for four hours every day during their two year stint in Hamburg.

Oprah Winfrey is another incredibly successful entrepreneur, but she didn’t get there without hard work. She said, “I would never see daylight. I’d come into work at 5:30 in the morning when it was dark and leave at 7:00 or 8:00 when it was dark.” (Source: Medium)

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was famous for his work ethic. When Jordan first entered the league, his jump shot wasn’t good enough so he spent his off season taking hundreds of jump shots a day (Source: Insider). He said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

We look at these people that are successful and think that it just happened overnight. But it is usually a result of a lot of hard work.

When I started my first business, I had very, very little money. I remember working until I couldn’t stay awake anymore and falling asleep under my desk. The employees coming into the office in the morning would turn on vacuums to try to wake me up.

That’s what entrepreneurship looks like for most people in the beginning. We cannot go into entrepreneurship because we don’t want to work hard. If we do that, we are likely going to fail. We need to set our expectations and be the hardest worker in the building.

Michael Phelps, one of the best swimmers in the history of the sport, said, “There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits.”

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Monetization Nation | with Nathan Gwilliam

Nathan Gwilliam helps entrepreneurs and digital marketers transform into better digital monetizers with revolutionary marketing and monetization strategies.