When you think of talent, most times you think of success and unconditional greatness. However in John Maxwell’s book, “Talent Is Never Enough”, we find that talent is a great treasure to posses but it is only the beginning of a successful life or profession. There are far more attributes that we should posses and build on, that will cause us to be a “talent plus person”. When individuals fail to see that talent is not enough, they fail miserably at most things in life. As I read this great book by Maxwell, there are several things I observed.
In life, we find that one thing, sport or profession that we are comfortable in or excel at and we consider that talent. Most times we think that practice is not needed, focus is not required and working with others only gets in the way. We tell ourselves that we are good enough and initiative, preparation and perseverance are not needed, but only talent. There are others that we see around us at times and think that they are the most talented people we have ever met, and that must be what has propelled them to greatness. But if talent is all that they posses or all they depend on, the notoriety and fame they may seem to have will be short lived, and crumble at the same pace as it was attained. Maxwell suggests that ingredients such as Teamwork, character, preparation and passion are necessary to multiply, protect position and energize your talent, and I have found that he is correct. As I reflect back on these leadership laws and proverbs, the resounding call to consistently learn is clear. When we fail to do right, we fail to protect our talent. When we fail to prepare, we fail to position our talent and when we fail to learn we fail to grow our talent. Through reading this retrospective book, I am reminded that talent is awesome when used in the correct parameters and conduits that these other characteristics provide. So many routine things in day to day life such as relationships, are overlooked and brushed aside for the purpose of relying too much on what we at times think too highly of, our own talent. We overlook teamwork, so the glory of success is ours alone. We overlook practice because we already feel that we are good enough, when the result proves us otherwise. We try and play the victim, yet we are actually the facilitator of our own demise, all because we stopped becoming better, thinking we were satisfied where we were.
There is more than reading this book to discover that there are so many more ways to enable your personal growth but you must take chapters three and eight to heart and muster the courage to place initiative in growing in whatever area your core values and passion will drive you. Having the knowledge and putting it into practice are two different things. Sometimes, I think we know but we fail to act, causing us to become like a new car and losing our value after we drive off the lot of comfort. What is it that cause so many of us to decide that we are through or burn out earlier in life than what we dreamed? I think the answer is simple, yet hard to admit, dependency! What do we depend on so much that could hurt us or slow us down? Talent! There are times we don’t even realize the enormity of the impact we could have in our profession, church, or life because we are so focused on the parts we can see, instead of developing the potential that you can’t. There is a great quote in the book that bears repeating, “Some people are like an ice berg; you only see the top 15% but what you cant see underneath the water is so much bigger”. We don’t take the time to master ourselves but instead we allow circumstances and even our abilities master us. One story that caught my attention was the tale of the great golfer Bob Jones. Jones had problems with his temper, and was even known to throw clubs on occasion. Obviously his character was scared and known throughout his social circles, yet so was his talent. He was advised several times through his teen years to take charge of his temper, or he would never succeed at the game he was gifted to play. Jones, relied heavily on his gift until one day it sunk in. With perseverance and focus, he eventually broke his temper and became known as one of the best professional golfers not to mention one with great character. One English scholar remarked of Bob Jones, “Bob was fourteen when he mastered the game of golf but he was twenty one when he mastered himself.”
Coming to the conclusion that one’s talent is not enough is sometimes a long process. It does not happen overnight, and sometimes needs prodding, but when reality is clear, and you find that you must make some changes, then talent is not seen as the only virtue but only a building block, on which God wants to build and grow you for His kingdom and glory. When talent stands alone, without any other stones, then that is how your life will stay…incomplete!